YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN)- Thanksgiving is just two days away, and many people are getting ready to cook that big holiday meal.
Making a Thanksgiving meal can be an overwhelming task. There are so many things you need to remember, more than just what dishes you want to prepare for the meal. Not only should it taste good, but you’ll want to make sure your food is safe to eat, too.
WKBN spoke with the Youngstown State University Food and Nutrition Program Director Dr. Zara Rowlands about what to do when it comes to cooking holiday meals. Rowland said most of the precautions need to be taken before you even start the cooking process.
It starts with where you put certain items in your fridge.
“You cannot put raw meat or anything with raw eggs or anything. It’s not going to be cooked on a top shelf. You want to put it on the lowest shelf possible, and that way you avoid contaminating anything that you may not cook,” Rowlands said.
The FDA says your turkey cannot thaw on the countertop. It should be at a safe temperature in the fridge. Also, if you have a bigger bird this year, it should already be in the thawing process. It is recommended to allow one day of thawing for every 4 to 5 pounds of turkey.
But what happens after the meal?
The Cleveland Clinic says leftovers should be divided into smaller portions to cool more quickly. It is also important not to let most food items sit out too long after the meal.
The rule of thumb is usually getting leftovers put away within two hours. But what if you still have no room to store leftovers?
“Pass on some of those leftovers to them, and that way, you’re not stuck trying to figure out, ‘Oh my God, what can I make with turkey for the fourth meal?'” said Rowlands.
Dr. Rowlands also says to limit the amount of times you grab food from a container. This is because every time you open it, you are exposing the food to bacteria.
Experts say you can have leftovers in the fridge for three to four days, even longer if you can freeze any items. Leftovers can last upward of six months when stored properly in the freezer.