Thanksgiving leftovers tell us Americans everything we need to know about our culture: we’re greedy, wasteful, and able to make something out of abundance. Moreover, we are some of the most creative amateur chefs in the world, probably generating the inspiration for some of the country’s most decadent fast-food sandwiches.

Seriously, the excitement that surrounds Thanksgiving leftovers highlights our ingenuity, a characteristic that helps our standing across the world despite our genocidal tendencies.

Regardless, keeping your leftovers fresh is paramount, protecting them from bacteria that may need a little nourishment as well. According to The American Dietetic Association, it’s a good idea to make sure your refrigerator is at or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit and the freezer is 0 degrees or colder. Bacteria thrives in warmer climates, so purchase an inexpensive thermometer and check your refrigerator’s temperature.

Take-out and other food that goes in the refrigerator directly after eating can usually last close to a week. But because most of us let our Thanksgiving food sit at room temperature for the duration of the meal, it may already be prone to potentially dangerous or sickening bacteria.

Any food, especially poultry or foods containing poultry, that sat out longer than five hours should be treated with caution. Make sure reanimate the food thoroughly as bacteria will tend to die under intense heat from an oven or microwave. Your leftovers should remain eatable and safe for up to 4 or 5 days.

Vegetarians and vegans listen up! Refrigerate cold foods like salads, veggies, sides, and appetizers as soon as possible. If your family was like mine, most of your family’s carnivores and starchavores probably skipped over them, leaving you with an bounty of leafy greens and other vegetables.

The most commonly identified food-borne illnesses, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, are caused by the bacteria trifecta of Campylobacter, Salmonella and E. coli, and by a group of viruses best known as Norwalk-like viruses. Symptoms of eating foods with these organisms are pretty much the same: diarrhea, abdominal cramps, nausea and sometimes fever and vomiting. Good times. More information on food safety and food poisoning can be found at

FrugiVoice: Tell us what you favorite leftover meal is, and what it consists of?

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