Freeze or toss? What to do with those Thanksgiving leftovers

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Feeling overwhelmed about the post-Thanksgiving cleanup? Here are some tips on how to handle those leftovers.

Most families likely had a smaller Thanksgiving celebration than in previous years, but probably still have plenty of leftovers from the feast. So, what to do with all that food before it goes bad?

“The thing is to look in your refrigerator and say, ‘What do I have, and what do I need to use up?’” said nutrition expert and registered dietitian Dr. Susan Mitchell with Breaking Down Nutrition.

Mitchell said the first thing to focus on is deciding what to do with the meats, and how they might be repurposed. “Make that big Dagwood sandwich that you like, or right away make it into some type of soup,” Mitchell said.

Next, freeze any meat that won’t be eaten in two to three days, because that’s about how long it will last in the fridge. Slices can be frozen for sandwiches in the weeks ahead, and the same goes for chunks of meat that can be used in soups.

Mitchell recommended making those soups now so they can be frozen as finished meals.

“Then, on those days that you’re dog-tired, you come home from work and you’ve got something to pull out,” Mitchell said.

Most of the other leftovers — such as grandma’s sweet potato casserole — won’t freeze well, so eat it within two to three days, or throw them out.

“Casseroles, things like that, you just have to eat them up, give them away and share them,” Mitchell said.

Bacteria can’t be seen or smelled for a long time, so going by appearances or doing a sniff test are not reliable ways to judge the safety of food, Mitchell added.

Need more ideas for your leftovers? Check out WTOP’s “Ideas for what to do with your Thanksgiving leftovers.”

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