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Saving Money With Leftovers
Leftovers can be a great and tasty way to save money on food. Some leftovers – especially those with sauces or soups – often actually taste better after the spices and flavors have had a few days to blend. But most people end up tossing leftovers because the food is unappetizing or spoiled. NBC News has some suggestions for how to save and use your leftovers.
Store Them Properly
Put your leftovers in an airtight container and label the container with the type of food and the date you put it in the refrigerator. Don’t push leftovers to the back of the fridge; instead, place them somewhere you can see them – and remember them.
Make sure your refrigerator is set at 36 to 38 degrees Fahrenheit. You can check using a refrigerator thermometer. And don’t fill your refrigerator too full. That keeps the air from circulating and keeping the food at the proper temperature.
Properly stored, these common leftovers can be kept fresh for this long after cooking:
3-4 days: Pizza, seafood, meat, vegetables, and soups and stews.
3-5 days: Pasta or rice dishes without meat, and egg, ham, tuna or macaroni salad.
Reheat Them Correctly
Regardless of how you reheat leftovers – microwave, stovetop or oven – do it quickly and thoroughly. Make sure the temperature throughout is at least 75 degrees.
Don’t reheat food in a slow cooker because it doesn’t get food hot enough soon enough. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, bacteria grows most quickly when the temperature of the food is between 40 degrees and 140 degrees. Bacteria can double in only 20 minutes in this temperature range.
Toss Them As Needed
Don’t take chances with leftovers. If they smell, taste or look funny, throw them out.
Don’t forget that food can be spoiled without having any outward signs. Check the date on your container and, if the food has been refrigerated for more than the recommended time or if you think the temperature in your refrigerator might not be low enough, toss it.
Finally, it can help you avoid wasting food if you plan a meal schedule that includes when you are going to serve leftovers. That way, you can save time as well as money.