Leftover food items are of great use to us when we want to skip cooking. Leftovers can make a quick lunch or brunch or dinner. Or the very thought of not wasting it compels us to consume leftover items the next day. But we should be careful in handling and storing leftovers so that consuming them won’t lead to problems like food poisoning or any other unhealthy side effects.
Important tips by health experts for storing leftovers
- First of all, food that has been cooked should be refrigerated or frozen within two hours in a proper way for further use.
- If food is kept outside for more than 2 hours in room temperature, especially in hot seasons, there are chances of bacteria growing on the food, thus making it unsafe to eat.
- Infant food should never be stored.
- Leftover food should be stored in new container. It should not be kept in the same container where it was cooked or served in.
- If you have hot food to store, then wait for the food to cool down.
- Always keep leftover food covered.
- Do not keep leftovers for more than 2-3 days.
- Do not mix leftover food with fresh food.
- Do not reheat food over and over again.
How to reheat food? Reheating tips for popular and general food items
We usually reheat leftover food. So, just as we take care of storing leftover food, we should also follow certain tips to reheat food so as to retain its taste and nutrition. Like cooking, reheating is also an art. With microwave heating, things have become easy and simple nowadays. But there are certain foods which require stove or gas top heating with a little added oil. We give below some tips to reheat some of the most popular foods that we consume in our day-to-day lives:
- Rice: Boiled rice can be reheated in both microwave and stove top. If you do it on stove top, put rice in a pan with little bit of water and heat over medium flame. Occasionally stir so that the rice does not get stuck to the sides and bottom of the pan. Keep on heating till the rice becomes hot and fluffy. In case of microwave heating, put it in a microwavable bowl, with a splash of water, and cover the bowl with a microwave-proof plate and heat for about 3 minutes.
- Soups, dals, sauces and gravies: Bring to a boil leftovers such as sauces, soups, dals and other gravies while reheating. Add about 1/4-1/2 cup of water to avoid making them too thick.
- Mutton and Chicken: Heat a pan with little oil over medium-high. Then sauté the chicken or mutton piece till they are warm. If there is gravy, then pour over the gravy on the meat pieces with little water and cover the pan. The chicken or mutton gravy taste just the same.
- Dry or gravy veggies: For reheating veggies, you should follow the same procedure as above.
- Fish: For fish gravies, take the fish pieces out first. Take a pan and heat the gravy with some water first. When the gravy becomes hot, add the fish pieces. Let it remain in the gravy for just 2-3 minutes. In this way, the fish won’t break inside the gravy.
- Roasted Potatoes: If you heat it in the microwave, it won’t be as crispy as earlier. It will be soft and hot. It is better to reheat in the oven. Spread potatoes on a sheet pan, cover it with an aluminium foil and put it in the oven for 10-15 minutes at 400 degrees. Roast until warm, and then uncover and heat it for 5 more minutes to make it crispy.
- Mashed Potatoes: Place the mashed potatoes in a microwave-safe bowl. Cover it with a paper napkin. Heat it in intervals for 30-60 seconds and mix after each heating so that it does not gets overcooked. Some experts suggest reheating in a double boiler over boiling water until warm.
- Pizza: Your leftover pizza usually becomes a solid crust after heating it in the microwave. The best way to reheat the pizza is to take it in a skillet or a pan and heat it in gas stove over medium-high heat. Cover the pan for about 3–4 minutes till the cheese is melted. Then uncover and cook for 2-3 minutes until the crust is crispy.
- Pasta: For pasta, you can heat it in the microwave directly for about 2-3 minutes. You can bake it an oven at 350 degrees putting the pasta in a baking tray and cover it with a foil. This should be done for about 20 minutes. Or warm it in a saucepan over medium-low heat.
- Boiled Pasta or Noodles: The best way to is to put the noodles or the pasta in a metal strainer, and dip it into a pot of boiling water for a few seconds so as to get back the desired texture and warmth.
- Chowmein: Warm it in a pan with little oil or microwave it for 2-3 minutes.
- Muffins and Bread: Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Put your cold loaf or muffins on a tray and cover with tinfoil and heat in an oven for 15 minutes, then uncover and reheat for another 3–5 minutes.
Foods that should not be reheated
Following are popular food items that should not be reheated. These foods could result in food poisoning if reheated or stored improperly:
- Boiled or scrambled eggs
- Celery and Spinach
Experts also say that items like potatoes, chicken or rice should preferably not be reheated because it can lose its nutritional value after reheating. Even Coffee or Tea should preferably not be reheated. But if by chance you have stored some extra quantity, you can put it in the mug and heat it in the microwave for few seconds. But generally it won’t taste the same.