How to Effectively Use and Store Leftover Food

Last updated on May 5th, 2024 at 09:22 pm

Photo by Ella Olsson from Pexels

Are you having trouble deciding what to do with your leftovers? Don’t throw them away just yet. If you cringe every time you have to throw good food into the garbage rest assured that it can be recycled into a good meal.

There are several leftover ideas that you can use to repurpose the food for a brand-new meal.  Here are some ideas that will help you to use leftover foods efficiently and also show you how to properly store them.

Storing Leftovers

Storing leftovers in the proper way is just as important as knowing what to do with them. If leftover foods are not stored properly they can be detrimental to your health. 

Speed is Important

Any leftover food that you have should be put in the fridge or the freezer within two hours of being cooled. Putting leftovers in the refrigerator or freezer quickly will prevent harmful bacteria from spreading throughout the food.

 A lot of people believe that food should be completely cool before you put it in the fridge or the freezer this is not the case. What you should be doing is putting leftovers in the refrigerator the first two hours after it is cooked. This will stop any bacteria from spreading. 

When you are ready to defrost frozen food the best place to defrost it is in the cooling section of the fridge. 

Freeze Leftovers Safely

Leftover food must be frozen at below five degrees Celsius and reheated at sixty degrees Celsius. Any temperatures that are in between will allow bacteria to survive in the food.

If you are fond of freezing rice then this is one food that needs to be dealt with carefully. You should freeze or refrigerate rice at least one hour after you cook it and it should not be in the fridge for longer than six days. 

Reheat rice at sixty degrees Celsius failure to do this puts you and your family at risk for food poisoning. 

Storing Leftover Meat

If you have leftover red or white me you can put it in the freezer for another day. However, that other day must come at least two days later. Eating red meat that has been frozen any longer than two days is not a good idea.

Make sure that you reheat the meat at about seventy-five degrees Celcius. Ensure that it is served hot. 

It is best to store leftover meat in a sauce or even a soup. This will help to keep the meat moist and it will taste better when it is defrosted for use.

Storing Your Vegetables

Leftover vegetable should be allowed to cool a little. After that, you can put them in a sealed container and store them in the fridge. Refrigerated leftover vegetables should be consumed in two days.

Leftover Bread

Leftover bread should not be stored in the cooling area of the fridge. This not only takes away from the taste but also does not lengthen the life of the bread. The best way to store leftover bread is to freeze it. 

Frozen bread can be eaten many months later. Let the bread defrost on its own and it will be just as fresh as the day you put it in the freezer.

Use the Right Containers

Before you can even think about what you will do with your leftovers you have to make sure that you have the right containers to store them. Glass containers are a good option because they last long providing you don’t let them break and as an added bonus you get to see what is inside them.

Seeing what’s inside is important because often leftovers are forgotten when they are stored away in containers that are not transparent. If you can’t afford glass containers use plastic ones that you can see through. Just be aware that they may not be microwavable.

Leftovers should be labeled and dated. This is an important step that you should not skip. The freshness of your food can directly impact not only the taste but your health. 

If you want to freeze food use zip lock bags. The great thing about zip lock bags is that they can be washed and reused. 

Ideas for Using Your Leftovers

Now that you know how to properly store your leftovers the next being you should know is what you do with them and how to use them. There are many creative ideas out there. Some people even do beauty mask recipes with food leftovers! Here are some traditional ways of using leftovers.

Have a Leftover Night

If you find that your leftovers are getting piled up, you can have a leftover night with the family. Doing this night everybody can eat different leftovers from the fridge.

This is great because it usually means you won’t have to cook dinner and if you are a busy mom this can be a lifesaver. Just make sure that the kids are all satisfied with what they get otherwise you may get some bickering. 

Eat Leftovers for Lunch

One of the best ways to deal with your leftover food is to have some of it for lunch. If you find that you have leftovers every day this is the perfect opportunity to have a pre-prepared lunch ready every single day.

If you normally go out for lunch this can save you a lot of money. Not to mention it frees up your time. You can just sit and relax and eat instead of having to join a line to buy food or going to the cafeteria to get served. 

Recycle Your Bread

When bakery bread goes stale after a few days you can borrow a little trick from the Italians. Cut the loaf in half crosswise and sprinkle it lightly with some olive oil. Cut a ripe tomato and rub it on the bread.

Add salt and pepper to taste, wrap it in some foil paper, and put it in the oven until it gets warm. You can enjoy it with any meat that you would like or by itself. 

Make a Soup from Leftover Vegetables

Creating soup from leftover vegetables is easy. If you have vegetables that you steamed or roasted the night before put them in a blender and puree them with fresh vegetables or you can use some chicken broth.

Transfer this to a pot and add any other forms of seasoning that you would like. Add some salt and pepper to taste. If you like you can add some olive oil to give the soup a bit more flavor.    

Make Stock, Broth, and Meatballs from Your Leftovers

You can use leftover turkey bones to make stock. If you have large pieces of beef leftover you can collect the trims and bones from the meat and make a  broth.

You can also use the trims from beef to make meatballs. Simply grind them and shape them into balls. You can use your hands to shape the meatballs or use a cookie scoop to shape them

Reduce Waste

One of the best ways to ensure that you do not waste your food is to use them as leftovers. There are so many ways you can use food that has been prepared for another day there is no need to throw it in the garbage most of the time. 

However, as noted here before you use leftover food you should consider how you are going to store it and for how long you are going to store it. This is important for the safety of the food. The last thing you want is to eat bad leftovers it will make you sick. 

Store and reheat your leftovers carefully and then use them in creative ways to make meals for another day.


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