Greensboro, NC -- If you're hosting a graduation party, a Mother's Day or Memorial Day picnic, there are a few rules of thumb to keep in mind.
When cooking for a crowd, it can be tough to judge when to put out the food and when guests are ready to eat.
Darrice Monk, food safety and sanitation manager at Lowes Foods, had some helpful tips.
Monk said food should never be left out for more than four hours, especially if the dishes contain eggs, dairy, meat or leafy greens.
According to Monk, if food is left out for four or more hours, any leftovers need to be thrown into the trash. He said if you want to save the leftovers, you should plan to put dishes away after two hours.
If you have guests coming at different times, Monk suggests you put out smaller portions of food as people come.
When it comes to cooking meat, poultry and seafood, Monk said there is no good substitute for a cooking thermometer.
Additionally, Monk said you should only keep leftover meat and seafood in the refrigerator for up to four days after it is cooked.