Food Safety - How To Store And How Long To Keep Leftovers

Updated:Oct 30,2014

SCWH - Food Safety

Food Safety - How To Store and How Long To Keep Leftovers

  • Make sure your freezer is set at 0°F and your refrigerator between 24°F and 40°F.
  • After making a dish, divide out the food you want to store.
    • Cut smaller portions of the dish and place in shallow, air-tight containers.
    • Meat should be cut less than three inches thick. Items such as bread can be wrapped tightly in plastic wrap to avoid freezer burn.
    • Divide food into portions you can realistically see you or your family consuming at one given time.
    • It’s also a good idea to label your frozen goods. Just write the name of the dish and the date on a piece of tape with a permanent marker. Then you always know what’s in there!
  • Properly portioning leftovers avoids unnecessary reheating and refrigerating of food; changes in temperature and the middle-ground between properly heated and properly chilled — between 40°F (4°C) and 140°F (60°C)— make food susceptible to spoiling and bacteria growth.
  • Leftovers will keep up to four or five days in the refrigerator and up to six months in the freezer.
  • Reheat leftovers thoroughly to a safe temperature of 165°F (74°C).
  • If you are in doubt about the safety of the food you are about to eat, it is best to throw it away.

Article copyright © 2014 American Heart Association. This recipe is brought to you by the American Heart Association's Simple Cooking with Heart © Program. For more articles and simple, quick and affordable recipes, visit