Open Accessibility Menu

A Menu for Healthy and Safe Holidays

A Menu for Healthy and Safe Holidays

When planning meals for the upcoming holidays, keep your family healthy by eating smart and storing food properly to prevent spoilage.

Watch the Calories

It’s easy to pack on the pounds during the holiday season, but the damage done could permanently affect your health.

Lighten the Load

  • Keep portion sizes small.
  • Make substitutions to your traditional recipes (i.e., skim milk, low fat/sodium broths/soups, sugar substitutes).
  • Choose lean cuts of meat (i.e., loin, breast meats). Otherwise, trim the fat off.

Food Safety Tips

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 48 million cases of food poisoning occur each year. Of those cases, more than 128,000 people are hospitalized, and about 3,000 deaths occur. Follow these simple tips and make safety a priority on your family’s menu:

  • Always wash your hands before and after handling food. Keep your kitchen, dishes and utensils clean too. Always serve food on clean plates—not those previously holding raw meat and poultry. Otherwise, bacteria which may have been present in raw meat juices can cross-contaminate the cooked food.
  • Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold.
  • Remember the “2-hour Rule:” Perishable food should not be left out at room temperature for more than 2 hours. If it’s been out longer than that, throw the food away.
  • Eat take-out and delivered food within 3-4 days.
  • Store eggs in original cartons in the coldest part of the refrigerator—not the door.
  • Homemade ice cream and eggnog are safe if made from a cooked egg-milk mixture.
  • Avoid icing recipes using uncooked eggs or egg whites.
  • Use leftover turkey, stuffing and gravy within 3-4 days or freeze for up to 6 months.

Shelf Life

  • Remember that shelf life is the length of time that perishable items are allowed to stay on the shelves before they are unsuitable for sale. If you have not used a food product by the expiration date, throw it out.
  • Best before" is a date to indicate when the food or drink is of best quality. It may be safe after that date, but not taste as good.
  • Foods that have a "use by" date should not be eaten after that date.
  • The "sell by" date indicates the last day the foods can be offered for sale, although the food is still safe to eat.

Food Poisoning

The signs and symptoms of food poisoning illness range from upset stomach, diarrhea, fever, vomiting, abdominal cramps and dehydration to more severe illness—even death.

If you become ill and believe you have food poisoning, contact your doctor, especially if symptoms persist or become severe, such as:
  • bloody diarrhea
  • excessive nausea and vomiting
  • high fever.
For victims in an at-risk group (pregnant women and their unborn babies, newborns, young children, older adults and people with weakened immune systems), seek medical care immediately.

Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, United States Department of Agriculture