This Simple Habit Will Keep You From Wasting Leftovers

Let's be honest, leftovers can be some of the best meals. It gives food the time to soak up all of the different flavors and can sometimes be even better than the original entree. But it's not always easy to know the best way to store leftovers. Fortunately, we have some easy tips that you can follow to make sure your creamy mac and cheese is just as mouthwatering the next day.

Katie Heil, a certified professional food in safety, told Real Simple a common mistake is putting uncovered plates into the refrigerator. "This may seem like a no-brainer, but it's easy to forget when you're in a hurry," she said. "In addition to protecting it from contamination, storing food in covered containers also helps it last longer."

Another thing that can sabotage us from not being able to enjoy our leftover stir fry days later, is not labeling or dating it. Angela L. Murad, a dietitian at the Mayo Clinic Healthy Living Program, told NBC putting labels on leftovers helps to remind us when we need to eat things, so they don't spoil. Especially because most of us don't have time to regularly be cleaning out our refrigerators.

Another prevalent mistake is not rotating your leftovers in the fridge

Sometimes when we reach to the back of the fridge we realize items, like those delicious mashed potatoes from Thanksgiving, have now gone bad. Unfortunately, when we restock our fridges, a lot of those items get pushed to an area where we don't see and then we forget about them. Heil told Real Simple, an easy way to avoid this is to rotate your food.

"After you go grocery shopping, put the new food items you just bought behind older items of the same type," she explained. "Commercial kitchens use this method to help reduce food waste, and it can help you too. When you get into this habit, you'll always eat the oldest food first, before it goes to waste."

Other simple tips to keep your food fresh are making sure your leftover food has cooled down before it's put away, it's stored in airtight containers and keeping your refrigerator at the right temperature. Murad explained to NBC that many of our fridges are kept too warm and can cause food to go bad. She said ideally the temperature should be set below 40 degrees. 

Now you're all set to enjoy that leftover fried rice you've been craving and know it will taste just as incredible.