Thanksgiving has sadly come and gone. Now we wait for our favorite December holidays, like my birthday! Just kidding. I know you're excited about Christmas, Hanukkah, or whichever holiday you choose to celebrate. One of my favorite things about Thanksgiving has always been the leftovers. After stuffing my face every year on Thanksgiving day, I know I can basically do the same thing for the next few days.

If you were lucky enough to have leftovers from your Thanksgiving dinner, now is the perfect time to find out just how long you can keep those in your refrigerator before you have to throw them out.

I'll warn you...the answer is a little bit disappointing.

Unsplash - Pro Church Media
Unsplash - Pro Church Media

How Long Can You Safely Keep Leftovers in the Fridge?

In my house, my wife isn't the biggest fan of leftovers that have been in the fridge for more than 2 days, which really works out for me. She'll just tell me to go ahead and eat whatever it is if it's been in there longer than that. I'll normally wait until the food has been in the fridge for about 5 days and then we'll get rid of it. It turns out that I might be tempting fate.

According to the Mayo Clinic, "leftovers can be kept for 3 to 4 days in a refrigerator."  After that, your chances of getting food poisoning will increase. It's best to freeze leftovers if you don't believe you can finish them within 4 days. If you freeze them, they'll stay safe for months. Supposedly, frozen leftovers will taste better if you eat them within 3 or 4 months if you put them in your freezer.

If my math is correct...this means that today (November 27) is the day you're supposed to get rid of any Thanksgiving leftovers that you still have! I told you this information was a little bit disappointing.

Reheating Leftovers Safely

99 times out of 100, I just reheat my leftovers in the microwave and call it good. I don't measure the inside temperature, I'll just throw the timer for 1 or 2 minutes and eat the food when it feels hot enough. This strategy isn't exactly great either.

According to the Mayo Clinic, you want to "reheat your leftovers until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees." Stir the food when it's done reheating so that it heats evenly, and it is suggested to not use a slow cooker. The rate at which a slow cooker, cooks, isn't fast enough and can promote bacterial growth.

Do you have to toss some of your Thanksgiving food today or were you able to finish everything you had on turkey day? If you have leftovers, hopefully, you can pack a really big lunch or you can have a Thanksgiving meal for a second time. You might as well try! Who would want to waste all of that amazing food?

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