How Long Should Food Sit Out For?

How Long Should Food Sit Out For?

After a long summer day out by the pool or sitting around the fire pit, you begin to pack up the food only to question if it should hit the trash instead. Many might find themselves airing on the side of caution each time, and avoiding leftovers altogether. However, with the right knowledge, you can not only decrease your chance of getting sick, but you’ll reduce your food waste too. So here are a few things to keep in mind: 

The Standard Time Limit

The USDA recommends that any food that requires refrigeration typically should not be left out for more than two hours. Any longer can increase the chance of bacteria growth and lead to illness. You can put out foods in small amounts as needed, or wrap up after everyone has had their first course. One way to make it fast and easy is by preparing containers beforehand, so cleanup goes rather quickly. 

Keeping Leftovers Longer 

When it is time to pack up your leftovers, make sure they are stored in airtight containers to prevent moisture from getting in. Though most refrigerated leftovers last 3 to 4 days, for large batches, consider freezing half. In larger freezer bags to save space, label each with the date so you can ensure freshness every time. 

When placing your leftovers in the fridge, keep the room on the top shelf, as this will help keep your leftover dishes at its freshest, and provide the best chance for them to last the 3 to 4-day span. 

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