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You eat your fill at Thanksgiving dinner and maybe even come back for more after dessert, yet there are still leftovers at the end of the night. You diligently shovel everything into containers and squeeze them into your fridge to eat over the next couple days…and some you will, but others will likely go straight into the trash. Not this year! Here, everything you need to know to properly store, reheat and enjoy your Thanksgiving leftovers.

Store Immediately

With so many delicious dishes to choose from, Thanksgiving is a holiday on which people love to graze and continue to take thirds or fourths after the meal is “over.” But once your food has been out for two hours, it’s time to get it packaged and into the fridge or freezer. Leaving food out for longer than this increases the chances of bacteria growth. In fact, the sooner you store food, the better. Warm food can go straight into the fridge or freezer and condensation inside the container will help keep the food moist. 

Use Clear or Label

It’s hard to eat leftovers if you don’t know what they are! Food packed in opaque containers or on low shelves is much more likely to be passed over than foods in see-through containers or with labels clearly stating what’s inside. As far as the actual containers go, BPA-free plastic or glass will do the trick. If you’re freezing leftovers opt for borosilicate glass, which can go straight from the freezer to the oven without leaking or shattering.

Minimize Air

Air is the enemy when it comes to storing leftovers—the more air exposure, the higher the likelihood of bacteria growth. Containers with tight seals and plastic bags with secure zip tops are key, but you also want to minimize the exposure to air inside the container to lower the rate of oxidation, which creates potentially harmful compounds. To do so, press all the air out of zip top bags or use the smallest container you can so that it is filled to the brim. If you must use a too-big container, cover the top of the food with plastic wrap to limit its exposure to oxygen. 

Reheat the Right Way

The microwave is often the fastest method of reheating leftovers, but it doesn’t always yield the most satisfying textures or the tastiest results. Whenever possible, try to use the same method you used to cook the food to reheat it. Simmer soup in a pot on the stove (or warm it up in the slow cooker), pop roasts, casseroles and pies in the oven and heat cornbread in the toaster. The hardest texture to replicate on the second go is crispy, but tossing some stuffing in a skillet will yield a mouthwatering crunch. 

How do you store and reheat your holiday leftovers? Let us know on Instagram @powerforlifefitness!