Thanksgiving dinner leftovers are usually given a bad rap, but leftovers can be fantastic for an overworked cook in need of a break after a holiday (especially if that overworked cook is planning to shop on Black Friday). However, fitting leftovers into a stuffed refrigerator can be a hassle. Here are a few tips on storing Thanksgiving dinner leftovers:
Store Thanksgiving Dinner Leftovers as Soon as the Meal is Finished
After everyone has had their second or third helpings, it’s time to store the leftovers. There are two great reasons to put the food away right after dining. Firstly, it’s simply healthier for food to not sit out. Oftentimes, Thanksgiving food is left out while families chat or relax, under the assumption that someone might want another serving, but is it necessarily safe to leave food out for hours and then store it for a later time? In order to assure that your leftovers last as long as possible, store them as quickly as possible.
The second reason for quickly storing your food is less obvious to those individuals not left with the mess. Pots and pans covered in hard cheese and turkey dressing need to be cleaned as quickly as possible to insure that food doesn’t have to be scraped off later.
Store Thanksgiving Dinner Leftovers in the Freezer
While some leftovers require the refrigerator, others can be put into the freezer until a later time.
Deserts such as pies, cakes, and cookies can often be put into well-sealed containers or covered in plastic wrap and frozen for a later time. When you’re ready to eat, simply sit the item out until it has defrosted. By freezing sweets, you’ll be less likely to gorge yourself on them in an attempt to finish off the leftovers before they expire. Also, you’ll be able to spread out the amount of sugar your family consumes.
Other foods can be put into the freezer as well. Casseroles are kept fresh and ready for a later date in the freezer. Also dressing and gravy are excellent after being frozen. Simply remember to sprinkled these dishes with water when you’re reheating them. This will keep them moist while they’re cooking. Also, rolls can be frozen, if you happen to have an abundance of leftover bread.
While cooked turkey can be frozen, I advise that you refrigerate it. Though it can be tasty reheated after defrosting, it usually doesn’t pack the same juicy flavor as fresh turkey.
Store Thanksgiving Dinner Leftovers in Tupperware and Ziploc Bags
Don’t keep food in its original dish. Most dinnerware isn’t microwaveable and doesn’t come with a tight sealing lid. Move food into small Tupperware containers or Ziploc bags. Divide food into smaller servings if you’re not going to prepare it as another whole meal. This will take up less space than using a large container that will be emptying over time.
While Tupperware containers are excellent for storage, they do take up space and can’t fit into oddly shaped spots in your refrigerator. Try using sealed bags for some of the food. Bags are great for storing shredded turkey meat and can lay flat in your meat drawer.
Keep storage ideas in mind as you prepare large quantities of food this Thanksgiving holiday. It may seem necessary to cut down Thanksgiving dinner serving sizes after you’ve thought out a plan for food storage.