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The Best Way To Store Macaroni And Cheese In The Fridge Or Freezer

Macaroni and cheese in baking dish
Macaroni and cheese in baking dish - Sunny Forest/Shutterstock

Macaroni and cheese is an indulgent comfort food whether it's made from scratch and baked in a casserole dish or the store-bought kind that goes directly from the box to a saucepan on the stove. Unless you're feeding a family or hosting a dinner party, there's a good chance you'll be happily stuck with leftovers. There's a lot to consider when storing those extras because the dish contains an array of dairy products like butter, cheese, and milk — and you don't want to risk any of it spoiling.

The first step to storing leftover macaroni and cheese is not letting it sit out for more than two hours, otherwise it might start to spoil, per the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Contrary to what some believe, you don't have to let the mac and cheese cool down before it goes in the fridge. But for the sake of convenience later, when you're ready to store it, portion it out and store individual servings separately. For storage in the fridge, place the leftovers in glass or silicone containers that fully seal. Otherwise, tightly wrap the container in aluminum foil or plastic wrap. To freeze mac and cheese, transfer it to a freezer-safe container with a lid that fully seals to present freezer burn. Either way, don't forget to mark the container with the date so you know how long it's been in there.

Read more: Ina Garten's 12 Best Cleaning Tips For A Mess-Free Kitchen

Tips For Storing And Eating Leftover Macaroni And Cheese

Hands placing container in fridge
Hands placing container in fridge - Dragon Images/Shutterstock

Once you have your leftover macaroni and cheese wrapped or stored in a container, it's essential to know how long it will last both refrigerated and frozen. In general, leftovers stored in a refrigerator set at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or lower should be eaten within three to four days, according to the USDA. If you can't eat it within that time frame, transfer it to the freezer at 0 degrees Fahrenheit. Once in the freezer, it can technically last for a quite a while, but ultimately it should be eaten within three months so the cheesy goodness doesn't lose its flavors.

When you're ready to reheat the macaroni and cheese, only heat the portion that you want to eat. If you're pulling it out from the fridge, it can be heated in the microwave or on the stovetop. Add a splash or milk or a pat of butter if you're worried about the pasta drying out while reheating, and use this time to add extra cheese, seasonings, or other additional ingredients to spruce it up. For frozen macaroni and cheese, put it straight into the oven or let it defrost in the fridge or on the counter, then warm it up in the microwave or on the stovetop. Just don't forget that you should put it back in the fridge within two hours if you don't manage to devour all of the leftovers.

Read the original article on Tasting Table.