Even when you and all your guests stuff yourselves to the max, there still will be plenty, and we mean plenty, of Thanksgiving leftovers. Some of the best meals actually come after the main meal, so make sure you store the turkey and all the scrumptious side dishes properly so the food won't spoil.
Step 1: Declutter your fridge
Make room for all the leftovers by cleaning out the fridge prior to Thanksgiving Day. This allows for all the leftovers to fit nicely. Ideally, you want each container to have two inches of space on each side, letting cold air circulate freely. If possible, place the containers on a wire rack to allow for extra circulation. Make sure the internal temperature is set to 40 degrees or cooler.
Check out these tips on cleaning out your refrigerator >>
Step 2: The turkey
If you have a lot of turkey left, feel free to keep it in the pan and place in the fridge. Turkey lasts about four days in the refrigerator and up to three months in the freezer. If you don’t have an enormous amount left, finish carving it and separate the white meat from the dark meat. Store the meats in separate airtight containers to ensure maximum freshness and taste. By the end of the week, throw out any meat that’s left, as it is no longer safe to consume.
Step 3: Stuffing and mashed potatoes
Make sure to remove all leftover stuffing from the turkey and store in an airtight container. Mashed potatoes need to be stored in an airtight container as well. This prevents smells from mixing and causing an odor in the fridge. Both the stuffing and mashed potatoes will keep for about a week, but the gravy only lasts a day or so in the fridge. When reheating the gravy, bring to a full boil before consuming.
Step 4: Food in tin cans
Cranberry sauce and candied yams, for example, come prepared in a tin can. If you have leftovers, make sure to transfer to an airtight container to prevent the dish from tasting like metal. Cranberry sauce lasts the longest in the fridge, topping out at about two weeks.
Additional storage tips
Since the main dishes need to be stored in airtight containers, feel free to use aluminum foil for leftovers such as baked potatoes or anything else that’s small and holds its shape. Aluminum foil works just as well as plastic containers at preventing smells and also preserves the flavor and taste.
Pies, such as apple or pumpkin, will last three to four days in the fridge. If your family isn’t much of a dessert fan, consider giving guests a slice to go.
Place all cooked leftovers in the fridge or freezer within two hours of eating. This prevents the food from spoiling if left on the counter for too long and exposing it to air and other food-killers.
And if you really just don’t want to clean the fridge, store all this food, recook it and eat it for the next few days? Doggie bags! Your guests will love you, and it will save you the hassle of storing food you may not even eat.
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