Safer food storage for the Holidays
Keep your Holiday leftovers safe from harmful toxins and from spoiling. Here’s our guide to safer food storage.
As the holiday season approaches, you’re bound to be doing a lot more entertaining and preparation of holiday meals. Seasonal and flavorful dishes take the forefront and summer smoothies take a backseat. With all of this extra cooking also comes the need to store more leftovers.
Cooking for large numbers of people involves making nutritious choices and taking time and care to prepare healthy hearty meals for your loved ones. The last thing you want to do after all of that time and effort is to store those delicious leftovers in containers that can potentially leach toxic chemicals into your food. Selecting the right food storage will also help you to reduce waste.
What are the best food storage options?
- Glass. Glass is a top choice for storing food and for reheating. Its non-porous and will not leach anything that you don’t want in your food. While glass may sound a little hazardous, it’s good to know that many brands provide tempered glass that is durable and safe. Mason jars are a great go to for storing dry goods or you can check out the Wean Green Kitchen Starter set which features a variety of sizes with BPA-free, leak-proof lids in fun colors. The Wean Green cubes are great for dressings and sauces too.
- Stainless steel: Food grade stainless steel is another great option due to its non-porous nature, and not to mention its durability. There are no issues when your child drops one because stainless steel can stand up to the test of a toddler. If you are sensitive to nickel, stick to glass or silicone food storage but otherwise stainless steel it’s a great safe option. Thinkbaby has fun little stainless steel-lined bento boxes that are free of toxic materials and seal up tightly, which means no spills. These fit nicely inside a lunchbox too.
- Silicone. Food grade Silicone is safe for food storage and can be used in the microwave and tossed in the dishwasher. Silicone is BPA, Phthalate, latex, PVC and lead-free and if you can’t deal with glass or stainless, then this is a viable option. Now you can even ditch your plastic bag habit with the silicone Stasher which is perfect for bagging up leftover veggies or freezing them. These are a great washable and reusable alternative to plastic baggies.
- BPA-free plastic. Plastic is still a good reusable option as long as it’s BPA-free so make sure to seek out BPA-free options that you can use again. A good practice if you decide plastic is the way to go, is to check out the recycling code on the bottom of the product. A 3, 6 or a 7 are probably worth avoiding as they could possibly be made of vinyl, polystyrene or polycarbonate plastic which can contain harmful chemicals that may migrate into your food. Just be aware that you should never heat food in plastic in the microwave. It’s best not to store acid-based foods like tomato sauces or citrusy dressings in plastic containers either. Marcus & Marcus makes a fun little collapsible sandwich cube that is molded from BPA-free, PVC-free and Phthalate-free materials. Wash and reuse for that mid holiday road trip lunch break!
- Organic cotton. You can’t store wet or cooked foods in fabric but dry snacks and crackers are fine if you’re on the go visiting relatives and friends for the holiday. Fluf makes certified organic cotton snack and food bags that keep food fresh. They are lined with a tested food-safe lining (phthalate, BPA and lead-free) that can be wiped and reused!
Food storage tips
- Label and date your leftovers so you don’t encounter any mystery food in your fridge. Holiday food can be heavy on the sugar sometimes which is a welcome mat for bacteria. Keep an eye on your leftovers with a date label to make sure you’re not snacking on month old sweet potato casserole.
- Freeze! If you’ve made too much, portion the remaining stuffing or turkey into lunch-sized containers, label and send them to the freezer. You can easily thaw one for lunch on a busy day.
- Plan ahead for leftovers. Made a 25 lb turkey for 3 people? No problem, find a turkey soup recipe and whip it up the next day for freezer meals.
- If you have plastic containers be sure to check them for wear and tear. Even the BPA -free ones can deteriorate over time so if they’re scratched or stained it’s time to recycle them.
Steps to follow when consuming leftover Thanksgiving food via FoodSafety.gov:
- Refrigerate leftovers within two hours to prevent bacteria from growing on the food.
- Store leftovers in shallow pans or containers to decrease cooling time. This prevents the food from spending too much time at unsafe temperatures (between 40 °F to 140 °F).
- Do not store stuffing inside a leftover turkey. Remove the stuffing from the turkey, and refrigerate the stuffing and the meat separately.
- Avoid consuming leftovers that have been left in the refrigerator for longer than 3 or 4 days. Use the freezer to store leftovers for longer periods of time.
- Keep leftovers in a cooler with ice or frozen gel packs if the food is traveling home with a guest who lives more than two hours away.