Cooking a large meal and then saving the leftovers is a great way to save time and money, but if stored improperly and not enjoyed promptly, they can also be a health hazard. Thankfully, the 2:4 rule can keep your leftovers safe to eat: Package and store your leftovers within two hours of cooking, and eat them within four days.
Photo by Pixel Playa.
There's a longer version of the rule — that leftovers should be stored within two hours, stored no more than two inches deep for quick and even cooling, and then eaten within four days, but the shorter version is a little easier to remember, and since the middle rule is a bit more subjective, it's a bit more universally applicable.
Either way, remembering to get your food into the fridge quickly after serving and adopting the first-in, first-out approach to managing your leftovers will make sure your next-day masterpieces are stored and eaten safely. If you're still worried, and you aren't sure whether your leftovers are good, there's always previously mentioned StillTasty, a great reference for shelf and storage-life for all types of food.
Are you familiar with the 2:4 rule? How do you make sure your leftovers are stored and eaten before they turn south? Share your tips in the comments below.