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Food Factor: Making the Most of Leftovers

Leftovers can be a huge time-saver, but they also have the potential to go to waste. Food tossed is money lost!

One way to keep your family and yourself safe from food-borne illness is to remember the 2-2-4 rule:

  • Refrigerate within 2 hours.

  • Use shallow, 2-inch-deep dishes for storing leftovers to allow food to cool quickly.

  • Eat the leftovers within 4 days.

While this rule doesn’t universally apply to all foods—some last longer than 4 days, while others should be eaten in 1–2 days—it’s an easy-to-remember guideline.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture website includes a full cold storage chart by food type that offers recommendations for both refrigerated and frozen foods.

Food waste is a serious problem in many ways. Not only are you losing money, you’re losing time having to grocery shop and cook more food. Plus, most of it ends up in landfills. (Hats off to all of our composters out there!) So remember 2-2-4 and make the most of your leftovers!

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