Using leftovers is a great way to minimize food waste and save time. Leftovers can be a great snack, next day lunch, or even be used to make a quick meal.

Take precautions with leftovers to make sure the food being eaten is safe. Cooked foods should not remain at room temperature for more than 2 hours. Refrigerate or freeze food within 2 hours of cooking or being served. Discard any food left out longer than 2 hours. Label and date leftover containers to keep track of how long it has been in the refrigerator or freezer.

Reheat leftovers thoroughly on a stove or in the microwave to a temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit or until hot and steamy. Bring soups, sauces and gravies to a rolling boil. Wash hands before and after handling leftovers; use clean utensils and surfaces; and never taste a food to determine if it is safe. There is a limit to how long food can be kept safely, so when in doubt, throw it out.

Your refrigerator should be kept at or below 40 degrees. For quicker cooling, separate big amounts of leftovers into shallow 2-inch containers and cut large pieces of food into smaller pieces.

If you are not planning to eat your leftovers within a few days, store in the freezer. Your freezer should be kept at or below 0 degrees. Store food in good quality, air-tight freezer containers and label.

For more information on food safety, contact Claudann Jones, Smith County Extension Agent for Family and Community Health at 903-590-2980 or email at Like our Facebook page: Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service Smith County. Stay well and stay safe.


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