For many of us, the holiday lives on for several days after the day itself through lots and lots of leftovers! If you are looking for creative ways to use those leftovers and avoid food waste, check out these tips to re-create delicious meals while keeping food safety in mind.

First, store your food properly. Put leftover food in the refrigerator promptly when you are done eating and avoid keeping it at room temperature for longer than two hours. After these two hours are up, it is best to discard perishable foods for food safety reasons. If you know you won’t eat the leftovers within the next three to four days, you could freeze the leftovers instead. Use sealed plastic containers or plastic freezer bags to store food.

Second, reheat safely. No matter how you are re-creating leftovers, reheat hot foods to 165 degrees in the microwave, in the oven, or on the stove. If you are thawing and reheating leftovers from the freezer, thaw in the refrigerator or during cooking and never on the counter. Leftovers last three to four days in the fridge or three to four months in the freezer. That means that the Monday after Thanksgiving should be the day that you either decide to throw away or freeze leftovers.

Third, be creative! Look for recipes that use multiple of the leftover foods you have on hand and that repurpose them in different ways. For example, if you have excess turkey, you could eat it on a sandwich, in a salad, or added to a soup. For a tangy and tasty twist on the typical turkey sandwich, try spreading some cranberry sauce on whole wheat bread with goat cheese. Puree your leftover sweet potato casserole and add it to other ingredients to make whole grain muffins for breakfast. Leftover stuffing works great in a frittata for brunch too.

In a holiday season all about food, try to avoid food waste as much as possible by cooking just enough for your family, storing leftovers properly, and being creative to use those delicious leftovers in a timely fashion.

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