What do you do with your leftovers? Most of us don’t think of people who go for days without food. Statistics reveal that about 40% of the American population throws away leftovers. Though leftovers can cause stomach problems, if you handle them well, you will save money and create something delicious from them. Let us look at how to handle leftovers safely to avoid wasting excess food.
Cook foods safely
The safety of leftovers stems from cooking your meals safely. You need a food thermometer to test the safety of cooked food considering its temperature. For instance, red meat should have a minimum temperature of 145degrees. Let it rest for five minutes after you have cooked it before you can begin serving.
Poultry, on the other hand, should have 165 degrees F internal temperature. Meat such as pork, lamb, and ground beef should be cooked at 160 degrees F. Your chicken salad should always be below 40 degrees F. Maintain cold perishable foods by surrounding them with ice as you use warming trays to maintain the right temperatures for your hot meals.
Store them in a shallow container
The container that you use for your leftovers should not exceed 2 inches in depth. Shallow containers allow your leftovers to remain cool longer than using deep tins. Shallow tins also save time for your food to remain cool inside your refrigerator. It also prevents warm centers from harboring bacteria. Maintain small portions of leftovers so that they can cool efficiently to prevent food illnesses.
Refrigerate your leftovers immediately
Since the surrounding contains warm temperature, if you don’t refrigerate leftovers immediately, bacteria will be formed. A fridge uses a temperature controlled mechanism to keep your kales and beef free from rotting. The cool temperatures in your fridge prevent bacterial growth. Maintain 40 degrees temperature and below.
Put raw food and cooked food separate in your fridge to avoid cross-contamination. The extra compartments in the refrigerator prevent the smell of a certain leftover from reaching the other items in it. You can label on your container so that you don’t forget certain foods that may overstay. You can also date them as you keep the ones that may go stale towards the front. Use clear containers such as glass to keep track of what is in your fridge.
Use aluminum foil to wrap certain foods. Do not use aluminum containers to store vegetables such as tomatoes and fruits since they are acidic. You don’t want your meals to change taste right? Take note that any extra food should go into your fridge after two hours of preparing it. Your refrigerator needs cold air circulating in so that everything remains fresh.
Reheat leftovers thoroughly
Your microwave will come in handy when it comes to reheating leftovers. Maintain temperatures of 165 degrees F as you reheat food to prevent food poisoning. A microwave can be uneven in heating all elements in your meal. You can facilitate the process by stirring your food as it heats in your microwave.
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Ge a vacuum sealer
Have you ever wondered how restaurants survive with so many leftovers? They make use of a vacuum sealer which can store your food up to one month without worrying about it spoiling. You can seal your bag of leftovers and eat them at your convenience. A vacuum sealer is better than your freezer.
Thaw frozen food
You can use cold water to thaw frozen leftovers. This mode is easier than using your fridge to melt frozen food. You, however, need to be cautious while using cold water. Use a plastic bag or a package that is free from leaking to thaw. If there is a leakage in the process, bacteria from the atmosphere, as well as water, can get access to your food.
A microwave can also thaw food. Heat it inside your electrical appliance until it gets to 165 degrees F. Use a food thermometer to monitor the temperature. Later refreeze your food after it has gotten to the right temperature.
Give to charity
The world is full of people who don’t have enough food on their tables. Help a needy person on the street with food that remains after a party. You will both be benefiting them as you get rid of your leftovers.
Turn your leftovers into a new dish
The beauty of cooking lies in experimentation. You can use your leftovers to come up with a delicious meal for your family. For instance, your leftover noodles can produce sweet soup. Turn the extra white rice into delightful vegetable rice.
Use a pet
Thank your pet for always being at your side by feeding them with your leftovers. Ensure that you don’t give them something that has stayed in your fridge for months. You need to check with a pet doctor to learn what leftover food is healthy for your pet.
Refreeze leftovers that you had previously frozen
These kind of leftovers are delicate and need to get to the safe temperature of 165 degrees F. If you have lots of leftovers but only require a small portion, thaw the leftovers in your fridge. Remove whatever amount you need and refreeze the rest of it without necessarily heating it.
Get rid of uneaten leftovers
If your leftovers in the fridge last for more than four days, get rid of them. You should avoid tasting leftovers if you doubt their state.
Sometimes, we overestimate the quantities of foods we need or plan for someone who does not show up. This leads to leftovers that can be a dilemma for us. Fortunately, the above tactics teach us what you can do with your leftovers before throwing it away. Let disposing it off be your last solution. Be keen on what you eat in case of a sensitive stomach.