How long should you keep leftovers in your fridge?


Jackie Schmidt cooked for two this Thanksgiving.

“We just had a small turkey breast with the mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberries, pretty traditional,” Jackie Schmidt said.

That’s why the Sioux Falls woman and her husband Bob don’t have many leftovers.

However, if you did bite off more than you can chew this holiday, you probably have lots of turkey and side dishes sitting in your fridge.

Hy-Vee Registered Dietitian Kristin Sousek warns you don’t have long to eat up all of your leftovers, before they could become unsafe.

“Typically, if they’ve done the proper cooling down of the foods and putting it in the fridge, you’re maybe looking at probably 3-4 days,” Hy-Vee Registered Dietitian Sousek said.

Any longer, and you could risk getting a food-borne illness.

“If you have a bacterial overgrowth it can be very, very serious. You can disrupt the normal flora that’s in the body. You can fight that for a long time. It can make you sick; it can give you fatigue; it can give you GI distress; it can give you headaches. It can really cause some big problems,” Sousek said.

If you don’t want to eat all your leftovers right away, there’s another option. Once you get done with the big Thanksgiving feast, put some of them in the fridge for the coming days and throw the rest of the leftovers in the freezer.

“Now, if you cool it down and you get it into some Tupperware, airtight, you can throw it in the freezer and you’ve got anywhere from 2-6 months,” Sousek said.

The Schmidts won’t have to worry about that, but they have a little turkey left to enjoy before it’s on to the next holiday.

“We just had a really nice Thanksgiving and everything turned out real well,” Schmidt said.

Here’s another tip that will help keep you healthy this holiday season: when it doubt, throw it out.

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