The Best Way to Store Thanksgiving Leftovers

Created by: Cathy Pollak, Noble Pig

Cathy Pollak, food blogger for NoblePig.com, has a tried-and-true method for packaging up Thanksgiving leftovers. Follow these tips so that everyone can wake up the next day and enjoy a turkey-stuffing sandwich with a side of mashed potatoes, and enjoy other memories from the meal for weeks and even months to come.

Storing:

Turkey: Remove any stuffing and cut leftover meat into smaller pieces and separate into appropriate-sized Ziploc® bags. The carcass can also be bagged and placed in the freezer to make stock at a later time. Tip: freeze one bag of cubed turkey meat for casseroles, soups or turkey salad sandwiches.

Side dishes: Store veggies, sweet potatoes and casseroles separately in their own clean bags to avoid contamination.

Gravy and soups: Cool down quickly by setting containers in bowls of chilled water, then transfer them to storage bags. Lay flat.

Desserts: Everything from sturdy pie slices to brownies and cakes can be placed in Ziploc® bags and stored in the refrigerator, freezer or on the counter.

Freezing:

Getting freezer-ready: Cool down food in the refrigerator a few hours before moving it to the freezer. Don’t forget to label and date each package – everything tends to look the same after it’s frozen.

Bags are better than containers: Make sure to use freezer-storage Ziploc® bags if you're planning on freezing your leftovers. If you freeze a liquid such as gravy, remember to leave room at the top of the package, as liquids will expand during the freezing process.

Take your time, the leftovers won’t go bad: Foods can be frozen for 6-8 months at 0˚ F without going bad, but for ideal taste, eat within 2-3 months.

Reheating:

Safety first: Make sure to reheat leftovers to a safe temperature of 165˚ F before eating (use a food thermometer to check). When using a microwave, stir the food a couple times to ensure the food is heated properly in all areas. But skip the microwave for liquids: leftover gravy, soups and sauces should be brought to a full boil on the stove during the reheating process.

Only reheat what you need: Food tends to lose moisture and dry out every time it's reheated, so warm up only the portion you’re planning to serve and place the unused portions back in the refrigerator.

Extra Bonus Tip:

Wine not: If a little wine is left in the bottle, try freezing it in ½ cup servings so that the next time a recipe calls for wine, you won’t have to look for your corkscrew.