Storing Leftovers: How Long Do Leftover Last?

  • A giant sandwich is stacked high with turkey, stuffing, and cranberry sauce.
You cooked. You baked. You hosted. And now you have a table full of leftovers. The question is, how long will they last—and what’s the best way to store them? In this post we’ll share some easy tips for extending the life of your thanksgiving leftovers and reducing the stress of cleaning up after the big feast.

Prepare Your Fridge & Freezer in Advance

If you’re anticipating a lot of leftovers, take time to make some extra space in your fridge or freezer before dinner hits the table. Also, make sure you have a good supply of freezer bags and shallow airtight storage containers. That last part is especially important because it’s easy to forget to re-stock your supply of food storage containers until you’re faced with a mountain of mashed potatoes to put away.

Put Leftovers Away Quickly

While you certainly don’t want to start packing food away before your guests are done eating, make it your goal to have all leftovers in the fridge within two hours.

One of the keys to keeping food safe is to cool it as quickly as possible. You can accomplish that by putting food in multiple shallow containers. It’s tempting after a long day of cooking to just cover big serving bowls with plastic wrap, but that’s far from ideal. When you place a large, warm bowl or pot of food into your fridge, the residual heat can actually raise the temperature inside to unsafe levels.

And no matter how tired you are, don’t just shove the turkey in the fridge. Remove the stuffing from the cavity and separate the meat from the bones before storing. Not only will this take up way less space, it also allows you to properly seal the meat which could help prevent cross contamination.

How long do leftovers last when stored in the fridge? It varies, but typically you’ll have up to four days.

How to Store Leftovers in the Freezer

Slice turkey and wrap it in aluminum foil before stashing in freezer bags or airtight containers. Make sure you remove all the air from the bag before sealing it. Side dishes can go in airtight containers or freezer bags as well. The less air inside your food storage containers the less you’ll have to worry about freezer burn.

How long do leftovers last when stored in the freezer? Again, the exact time may vary depending on how well you packaged your leftovers, as well as what kind of food it is. But, in general, frozen food stays good for around three months.

Happy Thanksgiving from StorageMart

At StorageMart we’re passionate about making life easier for our customers through helpful organization and storage tips—not just for the stuff inside your self storage unit but also your fridge, home, office, and anywhere clutter has a nasty habit of creeping in. There are many, many things that are great to keep in self storage units. Leftovers are not one of them. We are, however, happy to help you with any of your other storage needs. At StorageMart we’re proud to be involved in the communities we serve—and would like to wish you a Happy Thanksgiving.

About Sarah Little

Sarah Little, Marketing Director at StorageMart, holds a Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration. She serves as Vice President on the Board of Directors for the Central Missouri Foster Care & Adoption Association, a non-profit group dedicated to improving the lives of children.

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