HAMPTON ROADS, Va. (WVEC) -- Many will argue that there's nothing better than opening the fridge after Thanksgiving and loading your plate up with leftovers. But how long after the holiday can you enjoy the food?

Doctors with Patient First Medical Center recommend you follow a few rules on the day of Thanksgiving to ensure your food is properly stored.

  • Refrigerate leftovers within two hours of serving.
  • Divide large amounts of hot food into smaller portions so they cool quickly.
  • Refrigerate leftovers in airtight packaging or containers.
  • Freeze leftovers that will not be eaten within four days.
  • Dispose of foods that sit at room temperature longer than two hours.

As far as shelf life, The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics suggests that food should be enjoyed within a few days of preparation.

  • Cooked turkey should be eaten within three to four days.
  • Stuffing and gravy will last up to two days.
  • Casseroles and cooked vegetables will be good up to three or four days.
  • Fruit and cream pies should be eaten within two to three days.
  • Frozen leftovers last longer. For example, meat lasts up to three months in a freezer.

And don't forget-- if in doubt, throw it out.

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