One of the signs that you’ve become a skilled home cook is that you usually know exactly how much food your family needs for one meal, which means you rarely have to deal with leftovers. However, sometimes leftovers are inevitable – for example, when you’re making a huge one-pot dish or casserole and the family can’t finish it in one sitting. We’re about to tell you what to do if you have leftover food without wasting any products.
Handle leftovers safely
Generally, you can expect leftover to be safely refrigerated from two to five days. However, some foods can go bad before then. Since leftovers are already cooked, they tend to get spoiled much faster than raw foods. It means that the sooner you put the food into the fridge, the safer it will be and the longer it will last. Generally, cooked meals should be refrigerated within two hours from cooking, although this time needs to be shortened to an hour on particularly hot days.
In order to ensure food safety, you should store leftovers in special plastic containers or bags, and not the pots and pans the food was cooked in. The containers or bags should be airtight, so that the air couldn’t get inside the container and spoil the food quicker. If you have a batch of leftovers to store, you can divide them into several small containers, so that they would be easier to store and reheat. It’s very important not to pack your fridge full of leftover containers and place them separately, so that every container could be effectively cooled down.
Meat, poultry, and fish
Meat needs to be handled especially carefully, since spoiled meat leads to all kinds of diseases. Refrigerated cooked meat shouldn’t be left in the fridge for more than 3 days. However, you can also freeze your meat leftovers, in which case they can easily stay edible for up to three months. That doesn’t include fish – fish needs to either be eaten at once, or refrigerated for not more than 2 days. Cooked meat can be used in all kinds of dishes where you mix the protein with vegetables or grains and cook everything together in one pan. Shredded meat also makes great sandwich filling.
If you have leftover vegetables or fruits, they can survive in the fridge for up to 5 days. Avoid freezing cooked vegetables, since they tend to get soggy and unappetizing when thawed. Reheated veggies and fruits work best when they’re mashed, so you can turn vegetables into sauces and blended soups, while reheated fruits will make a great base for healthy smoothies and flavorful sauces.
Baked goods and grains
Baked goods like bread and cake are especially sensitive to the influence of other refrigerated foods, so if you’re considering putting baked goods in a fridge, it’s better to wrap them in cling film and then place them into an airtight container to ensure maximum freshness and maintain the original flavor. Baked goods can also be frozen for up to three months. Grains, including rice, couscous, and quinoa, tend to get very dry when reheated on their own in a microwave oven, which is why you can combine them with sauces or other ingredients like meat and vegetables to turn them into a delicious dinner.