Healthy Thanksgiving: Food Safety and Leftover Meals

Thanksgiving is often a day of indulging in your holiday favorites and spending time with family, leaving you with a full stomach and a refrigerator full of leftovers. When preparing food for others or for storage, it’s important to practice food handling safety. Any time you’ll be handling meat, you need to make sure that you use different plates and cutting boards for the raw meat, and that you wash your hands after handling it.

Once the food is served and everyone has had their fill, cover and store any leftover food. This will keep the food from going bad and will help you and your guests refrain from grazing even after you’re full. When saving food, it’s important to store it in a safe way that minimizes the risk of it spoiling. Seal and store food in clean, air-tight containers within 2 hours of cooking at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below. Food stored in air-tight containers in the refrigerator are good to eat for about 3 days. Freezing food can help it last longer.

Leftovers can make great meals after the holiday. If you have more leftovers than you think you can eat, consider bringing some to a friend, neighbor or loved one who wasn’t able to make it to a celebration. Other ways you can give leftovers new life include:
• Packaging your leftovers into individual Thanksgiving frozen dinners.
• Freezing the leftover broth from the turkey in ice cube trays to use later.
• Using leftover broth and veggie tray vegetables to make a soup.
• Reheating roasted vegetables to eat over greens or grains.

Cone Health has an exceptional network of registered dietitians dedicated to educating families in the community on making nutritional choices and promoting healthy lifestyles.

Physician Background:

Laura Jobe is a registered dietitian with Cone Health Nutrition and Diabetes Education Services and has been working for Cone Health for over 17 years. Jobe received a Bachelor of Science in nutrition and diatetics from Central Michigan University in 1991.