A Leftover Thanksgiving Feast

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Provided by Patient First

What is the best part of Thanksgiving? Is it being with family? Is it the fun? Or, is it what happens after the feast? Leftovers!

Many people cannot wait for a day-after Thanksgiving turkey sandwich. It is always fun to find a new way to enjoy leftover stuffing, cranberry sauce, and all of the fixings. Let your feast live on by safely storing leftovers in your refrigerator or freezer.

Proper Storage

Follow these simple rules so that you don’t spoil Thanksgiving – The Sequel:

  • Refrigerate leftovers within two hours of serving.
  • Divide large amounts of hot food into smaller portions so they cool quickly.
  • Refrigerate leftovers in airtight packaging or containers.
  • Freeze leftovers that will not be eaten within four days.
  • Dispose of foods that sit at room temperature longer than two hours.

Leftover Shelf Life

How long will leftovers last when stored properly? The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics suggests these guidelines for refrigerated leftovers:

  • Cooked turkey should be eaten within three to four days.
  •  Stuffing and gravy will last up to two days.
  • Casseroles and cooked vegetables will be good up to three or four days.
  • Fruit and cream pies should be eaten within two to three days.
  • Frozen leftovers last longer. For example, meat lasts up to three months in a freezer.

Reduce the Risk

Proper storage also helps reduce the risk of foodborne illness. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that one in six people gets sick by consuming contaminated food and beverages. Common symptoms include nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, and diarrhea. These four steps can help prevent foodborne illness:

  1. Cook to the right temperature. Use a food thermometer to be sure food is heated to a temperature that kills harmful bacteria.
  2. Wash your hands and cooking surfaces often.
  3. Do not cross-contaminate. Keep raw meat, poultry, seafood or eggs separate from other foods in the fridge. Dripping juices can spread bacteria.
  4. Refrigerate or freeze leftovers promptly.

Remember, no matter how long leftovers have been in your refrigerator or freezer, if in doubt – throw it out.

For your care and convenience, all Patient First Neighborhood Medical Centers are open 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. every day of the year, including Thanksgiving.


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