Health Advice



Using leftovers safely

By Michael Roizen, M.D. on

The price per pound of vegetables shot up almost 20% and fruit increased by 10% from December 2020 to December 2021, and the price of meat, poultry, fish and eggs jumped 12.5%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Ouch!

One smart solution is to prepare meals that S-T-R-E-T-C-H, like big pots of soup, stews and casseroles. But you need to store the leftovers safely. Freezing individual portions in airtight containers keeps them good and good-for-you for three to four months.

But if you don't freeze 'em -- or if you leave leftovers out at room temperature for too long -- be careful, especially with rice and noodles, sauces and soups, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They can harbor bacteria, such as Bacillus cereus, that can lead to severe illness or even death. Several journals report instances of life-threatening illnesses related to neglected leftovers.

Tips for safety:

-- Throw out perishable foods left at room temperature for more than two hours. Above 90 degrees? Ditch within an hour.

-- Move foods to the fridge as quickly as possible after serving. Leftovers can be stored in the fridge for three to four days.

-- On the stovetop, in the oven or the microwave, cover leftovers to reheat evenly and destroy harmful bacteria. Reheating sauces, soups and gravies? Bring them to a rolling boil. Zapping leftovers in the microwave? Cover and rotate the food for even heating.


Looking for great recipes that make multiple meals in one batch? Check out my "What to Eat When Cookbook" for WTEW Vegetable Soup, Ultimate Chicken Meatballs and more.


Health pioneer Michael Roizen, M.D., is chief wellness officer emeritus at the Cleveland Clinic and author of four No. 1 New York Times bestsellers. His next book is "The Great Age Reboot: Cracking the Longevity Code for a Younger Tomorrow." Do you have a topic Dr. Mike should cover in a future column? If so, please email

(c)2022 Michael Roizen, M.D.

Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

(c) 2022 Michael Roizen, M.D. Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.


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