Refrigerate or freeze leftovers as soon as possible after they've been prepared. A good rule of thumb — if heated food isn't refrigerated within two hours of mealtime, it's no longer fresh. There's no need to cool down warm foods before placing into a freezer for long-term storage. Label with the contents and the date.
Airtight, leak proof and clear containers are ideal for storing leftover food. Some even offer self-venting lids that are ideal for reheating in a jiffy. Tomato-based sauces can stain some plastics. For best non-staining results, use glass containers.
Temperature fluctuates the most on a refrigerator door. Store eggs and milk on a shelf rather than a door to prolong freshness. Don't overfill the shelves of your refrigerator — the air needs to circulate freely around the contents to keep them cool.
Keep vegetables and fruits separated in produce drawers and don't wash produce before refrigerating it. Use bubble wrap along the bottom of the fruit drawer to prevent bruising.
When storing things like sauces and soups in the freezer, only fill the container three-quarters to allow room for expansion when frozen. Store these in small quantities so the food freezes more quickly, which gives it a fresher taste.
Packing a lunch? Use reusable containers to save money and reduce disposable packaging sent to landfills. If you're taking dinner leftovers to work in the morning, fill a small container for yourself while putting away the rest of leftovers and save time in the morning!
If you are ready to prepare food that's been frozen, allow it to thaw slowly instead of placing directly into microwave for reheating. Safe thawing options include in the refrigerator, the defrost setting on a microwave or using a bowl of cold water changed every 30 minutes for no more than two hours. Be sure to know how long food should be stored.
When re-heating food in the microwave, be sure to loosen the lid of your food storage container or remove it altogether. Use a splatter guard to reduce the mess.