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How to Store Food in the Fridge: Leftovers & Meal Prep

After putting so much effort into prepping and cooking meals, why not put the same effort into storing your ingredients and leftovers? Use these tips to make busy weeknights easier for you and your family.

Read on to learn the best tips on how to store food in the fridge to maintain freshness and flavor.

1. Use Airtight Containers

If repurposing empty food containers such as glass jars and plastic tubs for left-overs and storing prepped ingredients, make sure they are food-safe before reusing.

Storing food in clean, airtight containers helps to minimize the risk of bacterial contamination, prevent spoilage, and keep the food fresh, which helps to retain and preserve the delicious flavors.

Glass containers are better for preserving food flavor and quality, as glass is less porous than plastic. They are, however, more breakable and heavier than plastic containers.

2. Refrigerate Quickly

A valuable tip that is easy to overlook is to quickly refrigerate leftovers. To help ensure food safety and quality, store prepped ingredients and leftovers in the fridge within two hours of making them.

The optimal refrigerator temperature for storing food is below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. If your fridge is above that temperature, bacteria can multiply to cause spoilage or food contamination. Also, note that you should only store foods like prepared meats, salads, pies, and soups in the fridge for a couple of days. After that point, spoilage may begin to occur. If you’re not going to eat leftovers or prepped ingredients within three to five days, store them in a below-zero degrees Fahrenheit freezer or throw them out. Use the FoodKeeper App for more detailed information on food storage.

3. Use Labels and Dates

Leftovers tend to look the same when refrigerated or frozen, so labeling with the proper date and meal will help you figure out the contents of each container without having to open them.

Writing the date you stored the food on the label will also tell you how long it has been in the fridge. Leftovers that contain meat can be refrigerated for three to five days. If the label indicates that your leftover meat has been in the fridge for over five days, you should throw it out.

4. Freeze Leftovers

If you do not intend to use a prepped ingredient or leftovers within the next three to five days, put them in freezer-safe containers or bags and store in the freezer. Pro tip: if you can, select freezer- and microwave-safe containers. This will allow you to reheat your item without the hassle of changing containers before microwaving.

5. Separate Into Smaller Containers

If you prepare large-batch recipes or have lots of leftovers, avoid placing all the food in a large container. Portioning the food in several smaller containers will allow it to cool quickly for the best fridge or freezer storage. Splitting leftovers into smaller containers will also help preserve the freshness of the food.

Dividing leftovers into small containers can make life even easier for your family. Retrieving a portion-size container is a quick way to reheat and eat individual-size leftovers for lunch or dinner when everyone in the family has a different schedule.

Start Storing Your Food the Right Way

A little organization can help you meal prep and store leftovers on those busy weekdays. Click here to find our favorite Hispanic recipes and use the tips from this article to keep your leftovers fresh.