The Surprising Ways You’re Killing Your Leftovers

leftovers in open plastic containers

Have you at any time made a food that was so delightful you could not wait to take pleasure in the leftovers from it the subsequent day or two? The fact is, most moments, leftover food that is eaten on working day two or a few following it is been cooked just won’t flavor as tender and flavorful as it did the initial time you bit into it. Or, even worse, it could have spoiled in the fridge since it wasn’t effectively saved or was remaining in the appliance for significantly way too prolonged.

To enable call out some of these issues we make when we endeavor to keep leftovers, we consulted Meredith Carothers, the complex info professional at the USDA’s Food stuff Safety and Inspection Provider. Read on to find out just how you may be ruining your flawlessly excellent leftover foods!


You’re permitting leftover food stuff sit out for far more than two several hours.

roasted potatoes

We know that the very first detail you want to do when you have finished food prepping is sit down and love your foodstuff, leaving the rest to sit out on the stovetop or counter. Even so, this could be placing your foods at hazard of bacterial progress.

“One of the largest means that people kill their leftovers is by violating the 2-hour rule. Foodborne disease microbes improve swiftly amongst the temperatures of 40° F and 140° F, and just two hours at space temperature is ample time for food stuff poisoning microorganisms to arrive at risky ranges,” states Carothers. “Plus, there are some micro organism that, if authorized to multiply, produce toxins that are unable to be killed by reheating your leftovers, so it is very significant to make positive leftovers are refrigerated inside this time!”

The food items safety pro offers some guidelines on how you can preserve your leftovers from spoiling.

  1. Proper right before sitting down down to eat, part your leftovers into storage containers and place in the fridge.
  2. If you are worried about your goods getting as well incredibly hot to put in the fridge, it is in fact risk-free to position very hot foods immediately in the refrigerator. Even so, you’ll want to minimize significant objects or divide large quantities of food items into lesser portions to neat rapidly.
  3. Set you a timer so that if you make your mind up to sit and delight in your food prior to putting leftovers away, you really do not sit for also long!

Your leftovers have been in the refrigerator for way too lengthy.

Putting leftovers away

Did you know that cooked foods is only very good involving 3 and four days after you prepare dinner it? Carothers says that this is frequently how people wreck their leftovers, by leaving them in the fridge for far too extensive until eventually they spoil.

“To steer clear of killing leftovers by leaving them in the fridge also very long, possibly take in inside 3 to 4 days or freeze them to get pleasure from at a afterwards time. Leftovers will be safe indefinitely in the freezer but will hold their finest freshness and quality for a few to four months in the freezer. Though protected indefinitely, frozen leftovers can reduce moisture and flavor when saved for lengthier periods in the freezer.”

How a lot of instances have you experienced to throw out foodstuff simply because they were being tainted with freezer burn off?


Your fridge is not set to the appropriate temperature.

refrigerator thermometer

Carothers states that placing your refrigerator to the appropriate temperature is critical for preventing bacterial expansion on foods and foodborne illness. You usually want to make confident fridge temperature is 40°F or under.

“Foodborne ailment bacteria will get started to multiply at temperatures over 40°F and can attain dangerous ranges that could make you unwell,” she clarifies. “In addition, if the refrigerator temperature is larger than 40° F that signifies spoilage microbes will start out to multiply as perfectly.”

This is problematic mainly because it signifies that your food items will very likely spoil quicker.


You are not wrapping your leftovers in airtight containers.

leftovers in open plastic containers

How you retailer your leftovers is crucial for how very good your leftovers will style in the future three to four times immediately after they’ve been cooked.

“To maintain the finest high-quality, it is proposed to both address leftovers, wrap them in airtight packaging, or seal them in storage containers,” says Carothers. “These practices aid hold microbes out, keep humidity, and stop leftovers from picking up odors from other foodstuff in the refrigerator.”

Have you at any time had pasta that type of tasted like a banana? If you remaining a 50 %-eaten banana in the refrigerator upcoming to a bowl of pasta with not even plastic wrap in excess of it, then you have your respond to as to why your noodles scent like yesterday’s banana.

Relevant: These are the uncomplicated, at-dwelling recipes that enable you drop bodyweight.


You’re storing your leftover meals in smelly plastic containers.

Premade caesar salad

If plastic containers are what comprises most of your storage cupboards, then it may be time to consider a sniff of each individual. Why? Not like glass, plastic containers can truly absorb the flavors of pungent foodstuff about time. Have you ever had a plastic container that is forever stained pink from a garlicky marinara sauce? Just like the stain, the odor may well also never dissipate, which signifies any new leftovers you keep in there could working experience a change in flavor. Gross! If you use plastic containers, make absolutely sure to alter them out when they are starting off to reek.


You’re reheating leftover soups and sauces in the microwave.

putting soup in microwave with hot pad

Are you re-heating soups and sauces in the microwave? Miscalculation quantity 1! In an posting about how to properly reheat leftovers, Brian Bennett, executive chef of wellbeing forward meal supply company Consume Clean Bro, reported, “I reheat them in a saucepan slowly but surely on minimal on the stove top rated. I ordinarily will incorporate a small liquid, depending on the base for the soup or sauce,” says Bennett.

The liquid he adds will both be product, milk, or water, and he stirs the mixture gradually as it’s heating on the stovetop. Of course, you can put it in the microwave, but the sauce might develop into drier and either the soup or sauce could explode though in the microwave. The worst aspect? 50 % of the soup or sauce might however be cold, but your microwave is still left a mess.


You are not reheating your leftovers in the microwave effectively.

exploded food in microwave

Bennett experienced also shared that you need to steer clear of stacking leftover foods on best of each individual other although in the microwave.

“The considerably less dense anything is, the less difficult it will heat up,” he says, so you ought to avoid stacking that grilled chicken breast on top rated of that chilly bed of pasta! As a substitute, make absolutely sure that all of the food stuff is evenly spread out across the plate so it heats up at the very same charge, or choose turns heating up all of the diverse meals. Yesterday’s meal will be just as hot as it was then!


You’re storing raw foods on leading of cooked food items.

lower shelves fridge

Overstuffing your fridge is a problem in just itself because you run the threat of inhibiting chilly air from circulating adequately among all meals in the equipment. But preserving uncooked foodstuff (like cuts of meat) in close proximity to cooked food items in the fridge is also regarding. For illustration, let’s say you stack a few of slabs of purple meat on the shelf previously mentioned currently cooked food items. Depending on how the cabinets of your fridge glimpse, you could operate the threat of juices from the uncooked fulfill seeping into your leftovers. This, of study course, could cause a slew of health and fitness challenges if eaten, so make guaranteed you place raw meat on one particular of the base cabinets for right fridge corporation.

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