If your guests are delayed, do you know what to do with all of the food that you prepared?
If hot foods are in the oven and guests are expected to arrive within the hour, the food can usually be held safely in the oven. Put a meat thermometer in the thickest part of the meat or in the center of other dishes and adjust the oven temperature so that the food stays at an internal temperature of 140° F or above. To prevent food from drying out, cover the dishes or wrap with aluminum foil. Cold foods should be kept refrigerated until just before serving.
Hot foods may dry out if kept in a warm oven for more than an hour. If guests are delayed for more than an hour, separate the food in shallow containers and store in the refrigerator. When the guests arrive, reheat the food to an internal temperature of 165° F. Cold foods should be kept refrigerated until just before serving.
If raw meat or poultry was thawed but didn't start the cooking process, the meat can be safely refrozen provided it was thawed in the refrigerator. If the meat or poultry was previously frozen, the quality may decrease if frozen a second time, but it would be safe as bacteria do not grow in the freezer. If you plan to reschedule the party, poultry and ground meats can be refrigerated for two days; red meats like roasts and steaks up to five days.
If the party is rescheduled within three to four days, cooked foods can be stored safely in the refrigerator. For longer storage, freeze any cooked meat or casserole in shallow, airtight containers or wrap tightly with foil or freezer wrap. Cooked foods can usually be stored in the freezer for 3 to 4 months. Most side dishes can also be frozen, although those containing cream sauces may become lumpy when frozen and reheated.
Always reheat cooked foods to at least 165° F.