Leftovers 101 – How Long Do They Last?

What’s the best thing about a holiday meal? The leftovers, of course! Obviously, spending time with friends and family, as well as the delicious holiday cuisine plays a part. However, for a lot of people, eating what’s left over is just as fun. In fact, in a recent tweet and on a recent episode of Wheel of Fortune, Pat Sajak had some advice for lovers of leftovers like him. Cook on Wednesday and eat your big meal that evening. Then, on Thanksgiving Day, they eat the leftovers – something Sajak says he’s truly thankful for! As enjoyable as left-over meals may be, though, you have to think carefully about food safety. How long can you safely nosh on these foods before it’s time to toss them?

Are They Actually Safe to Eat?

leftovers holidays

The short answer is seven days. According to the FDA, you should discard any foods you have leftover by then. That’s not to say, though, that everything will be safe to eat or even taste good on day seven. You should eat some foods within a couple of days.

For example, turkey will last about four days in your fridge. But, if you want it to last longer, you can freeze it. Just make sure to label your storage container with a date because the turkey will only last for four months. Moreover, ham can last somewhere between three and seven days, depending on the type of ham. Unlike turkey, most types of ham will only last one to two months in the freezer. And, what about those mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, gravy, and pumpkin pie? They all last an average of three days in the fridge.

Storage Tips for Long-Lasting Meals

To ensure your leftover food is safe to ingest, make sure you take extra precaution and store it properly. Keep these handy storage tips in mind this holiday season:

  • Use Air-tight Containers– Your storage containers should be clean, have air-tight lids, and be in good condition. If air gets into the container, the leftover food will deteriorate even faster. And, if placed in the freezer with access to air, you will likely end up with freezer burnt food.
  • Divvy Up Portions– Divide large portions of food into smaller portions when storing. The food will actually last much longer if you do this. You’ll also want to put the food in the refrigerator or freezer as soon as possible. Your best bet is to store it within two hours of cooking time to avoid bacterial growth.
  • When in Doubt, Throw it Out– If there’s any doubt about the food, whether it’s been in the fridge or freezer for a while or it was left on the counter for hours after the meal, your best bet is to throw it out.

Not Sure You Want to Cook This Holiday? Go the BBQ Way

Holiday meal prep is stressful, and you want to enjoy the party, too, right? Thankfully, you can have your cake and eat it too with holiday catering from Adam’s Grille. The BBQ is delicious, the presentation will fit the mood of your party, and the prices are affordable. It doesn’t get much better than that. So, don’t get stuck in front of the stove this holiday season. Contact us to talk about our holiday catering options so you can enjoy the festivities.

Leftovers are great – for a while anyway. Once you get sick of your leftovers, head on over to Adam’s! Just a head’s up: We close at 6:00 pm on Christmas Eve and we’ll be closed all day Christmas Day.