This site is privately owned and is not affiliated with any government agency. Learn more here.

What to do with Left Overs

Searching for a recipe but not really wanting to go through all the motions to make a meal? The answer may be right in your refrigerator. Left-over food is delightful to me no recipe needed. Some people I know can’t be bothered saving leftover food, it can be a fun challenge. I even plan meals I order to be dinner later, so I don’t have to cook a meal from scratch. The servings some restaurants give you, I can make a meal and a lunch from the next day. My budget loves that. With that kind of planning, eating takeout or at a restaurant is possible with limited budgets. See how this can make your life easier with left-overs.

How to Reheat Leftovers and Not Ruin Them

Knowing how to reheat and not ruin foods is the key to having the food be as good or almost as good as in the restaurant. This is what I am going to share with you. Some use of a microwave and some stovetop or oven.

Thai Food – Let’s start with grabbing some red curry at the Thai place on the way home.  They always give me a big enough serving for two people plus leftovers and even the mild is a bit spicy. BUT, if I add a can of coconut milk to it and some mixed vegetables out of the freezer thrown in or a sweet potato cooked quickly in the microwave and chopped up, that meal will feed a family of four for about $15. Or one for three dinners and a lunch. It can be frozen to make another meal if you get sick of it. Reheating is a snap in the microwave in a ceramic or glass bowl with a plate to cover it keeping the food moist. Start with 2 minutes at a time stirring until hot. The same process works for stews and soups and will be mentioned later.

Add some spring rolls for the first day and you really have a treat. If you find you didn’t eat those spring rolls, do not put into the microwave and expect to enjoy them a second time. Simply put your toaster oven on oven mode at 250F and pop them in on a small piece of foil for 15 minutes. They will crisp up just like new.

Pad Thai leftovers need to be kept moist while reheating. It is best to start out with them room temperature then put them in the microwave in a bowl covered with a very damp paper towel and with a plate over the bowl to keep the moisture in.

Here are some basics for reheating. Methods reviewed will work for similar types of meals.

Steak – If you had a great steak and it is medium rare and you want to eat it medium rare (or close to it) then take the steak out of the refrigerator. Slice it as you would want to eat it and let it get room temperature.  Place it on a plate with a wet but wrung out paper towel on it then cover it with an upside-down plate. Put in microwave for 10 seconds. Check and add 5 seconds at a time until it is warm. Don’t expect it to be sizzling like you got it in the restaurant. But, it will keep the juices and not be dried out.

Soups and Stews easily reheat in the microwave in a bowl with a plate on top for 2 minutes at a time testing and stirring at each interval.

Pastas with no sauce leftover can be heated up in a minute by plunging it into hot boiling water for a minute. Then drain in a colander or strainer. Add desired topping.

Tomato Sauce for pasta is easily reheated in a sauce pan on medium heat, small frying pan stirring often so not to stick. If it has thickened and you want to thin it down a bit, a little water can be added in increments so not to water it down too much.

Hamburgers and hot sandwiches are never as good the second day. Or are they? Certainly, a medium rare burger is not going to come out medium rare reheating but, it will be juicy with a steamed bun. Get out your medium sized non-stick frying pan. Remove the bun top and bottom. You may have to slice it off gently if it is stuck. Take the burger and put it into the pan on medium low and cover it with a top so it can steam slowly in its own juices. If it is really dry, coat the pan with a light coating of olive oil. Flip the burger once if there are no toppings on it. If there are toppings heat it on low covered for 10 minutes. At 10 minutes put the buns both in cut side down on top of burger or next to it and cover once again for 2-3 minutes. Shut off the heat and assemble your burger. It will be so good the second day.

Cheesesteaks, Chicken Philly or BBQ Sandwiches – Want your Cheesesteak to taste as good tomorrow?  Order the large and enjoy it again. I am not kidding here.  Here is how to do it. Get a medium non-stick frying pan. Open your sandwich by cutting it right down the middle of the meaty mixture cold out of the refrigerator. Place the whole thing meat side down in the pan. Cover it. Turn the stove on medium low and walk away for 10-15 minutes. (if your stove runs hot-you will have to watch that it doesn’t burn and turn the heat down. The sandwich will steam the bun and heat up the meat and other ingredients slowly. The sandwich is done when the bun is warmed through. Use a non-stick flexible spatula to lift out each side of the sandwich and reassemble. Eat.

Rachel or Rueben’s and other grilled sandwiches can be delicious for dinner or lunch if you could only eat half. Yes, they can! I do it all the time. Who can eat that whole thing? Follow the directions for the cheesesteak by cutting right down the middle and cooking slowly ONLY… reassemble in the pan with one of the bread sides down to crisp it up again then flip to crisp up the other side. It is yummy again!

Grilled Cheese is as good by simply heating the way it was cooked originally only on low heat and don’t cover it.

Baked Potatoes reheat into a fried delight. Didn’t eat that baked regular or sweet potato or have one left over? Cut in half put into non-stick frying pan lightly coated with 2 teaspoons of olive oil and mash them down gently to about ¾ inch thickness. Fry on medium high heat, oil and salt the top side and flip. Cook until brown on both sides. Serve for breakfast with eggs or as a side dish for dinner with a dollop of sour cream.

Mashed Potatoes only work for me when I fry them in butter until brown and make a potato cake from them.

Pizza left over? Don’t microwave that pizza! Heat up the oven or the toaster oven on 350F. Insert a non-stick cookie sheet into the oven to heat up with the oven. After the oven is hot put that pizza onto the hot cookie sheet in the oven. Crank up the heat to 400F and in less than 5 minutes. You have a perfect piece of pizza with crispy bottom. If you want the bottom more crisp, leave it in for another minute. No more rubber pizza. If you have a whole pizza to reheat. Follow the same way only put the pizza on the rack with no pan under it BUT, put foil on the lower rack to catch any dripping cheese.

Chicken wings reheat the same way as we did with pizza in conventional for toaster oven, but you may have to flip them at 3 minutes and take up to 10 minutes to reheat.

Mac & Cheese reheats in the oven easily in a covered casserole dish by adding a bit of milk on the bottom of the casserole and heated in a slow oven at 300F. How much you are reheating will determine reheat time. I also pour a bit of milk on the top to keep it creamy.

Watch for this page to expand for more tips on how to reheat so the taste is still there the next day.