Reheat & Relish: Time-Saving Hacks for Heating Leftover Food

Here are hacks we’ve tried and tested for reheating leftover food while keeping it tasty at the same time!

When it’s time to declutter the fridge, we often reheat all these leftover food that we’ve accumulated over the days and weeks. However, when we reheat food, it’s either not as tasty as before or doesn’t just look as yummy. If we don’t do it right then, we end up throwing it out and making a potential nest for cockroaches in our trashcans! Here are some ways to reheat leftover food at home to reduce food waste:

1. Reheating Chicken: Shred the meat and stew as a soup!

One of the most common leftover chicken parts are the breast or the ribs. With kids liking the drumstick, thigh, or on the rare ocassion — the wings, they usually don’t clean their bones well, leaving bits of meat attached. It may look like leftovers but to any cook, they’ll turn the bones into the base for soup. The meat closest to the bone is usually the most flavorful too!

In a pot, boil all the chicken bones with some garlic cloves, black peppercorns, and half red onions for over an hour. After that, take out the bones and we’ve just made ourselves a pot of chicken stock which is the base ingredient for most dishes.

2. Wrap the foods in foil instead of using bowls to steam them.

In the rice cooker, there’s a basket-like structure that comes with it. That’s the steaming basket where most people cook things like siomai, dumplings, and maybe, Hainanese chicken. But it’s also useful for reheating leftover food. Instead of storing the food in bowls, wrap them up in foil instead so that we can squeeze the leftovers together. And instead of pulling out so many pans, all the cooking is contained within the rice cooker which means, there’s less to clean!

3. Chopping it and stir-frying it!

While this may take a bit of knife work, this is especially useful when we have leftover pork dishes in thick cuts. With the remaining porkchops or pork belly, slice them up into thin strips while also cutting off the large bits of fat. In a pan over high heat, melt the fat to serve as your “oil.” While the fat’s melting, coat the pork bits with a bit of cornstarch, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and onion powder.

Toss the pork bits into a pan and fry for 1 minute and 30 seconds. After that, take 1/8 cup of water and pour it inside. You’ll only have a split second when the steam starts coming out so cover the pan right after and let the steam soften the pork.

What some parents even do is that they use cooking wine, rice wine, or shao xing wine to add more depth to the pork’s flavor.

4. Pan-cleaning hack: fried rice but with meat drippings!

After heating meat that comes with a sauce, it’s usually stuck all over the pan. Instead of fighting with a sponge and soap, add 1/8 cup of water and 1 bottlecap of any oil to remove the bits that are stuck. Next, if there’s leftover rice, use that to soak up all the sauce. This works especially when you reheat leftover food like roast chicken, grilled porkchops, beef tapa, and even hamburgers.

5. Reheating fried food: use an ice cube instead!

When there’s leftover fried chicken, potatoes, or anything fried in general, it usually looks and tastes soggy after reheating. But that’s because we put too much water. Instead, add an ice cube so that when it melts, it can gently heat the meat. Most fried foods also store oil in the batter which is all you need to heat so your beloved fried dishes become crispy again.

6. Heat the meats in an order according to thickness.

What usually takes meat long to reheat is because the cuts are thick. It takes time for the heat to cook all the way through. Sort the meat into two groups: one that’s at least half an inch thick and the other that’s not. Pork or beef, if it’s at least half an inch thick, is better off being cooked in a rice cooker. That way, we save on electricity or gas. The rice cooker usually takes an hour or 30 minutes to cook rice which is more than enough time to heat the aforementioned meats.

Chicken usually takes around 15 minutes to reheat especially if these are leftover breast parts.

7. Play around with the sauces.

The key to reheating leftover food properly is matching the color and taste profile. Adobo, because it contains both soy sauce and vinegar, can be heated with a bit of vinegar and water. The salt from the adobo’s soy sauce usually what lasts in the fridge, leaving it with a salty flavor. Cream-based pastas can be heated with either milk on low heat or water with salt to restore the flavor.

With better tasting leftover food, we have less to throw away and reheat.

Food waste is what usually attracts all the bugs into the house. Especially if you live in a condo, garbage collection isn’t instant — they usually schedule it so there’s time for the waste to “marinate.” However, there are some dishes you don’t reheat and there’s usually a limit. Some parents follow the Rule of 3: if they’ve reheated that leftover food over 3 times, it’s time to either reinvent the dish or toss it out.

We wouldn’t recommend feeding leftover to pets. Some dishes may contain ingredients that are harmful to our furbabies like high amounts of salt, pepper, coffee, eggs, and the like. Plus, it makes them “pickier” with their food.

When reheating leftover food, always remember that the dish will have lost some of its original flavor. But that doesn’t mean it’s inedible — we just need to play around with it until we figure out how to make it better.

More about cooking or kitchens?

No to Krazy Kitchens: 9 Hacks to Keep Your Kitchen Clean and Clutter-free
Easy Egg-less Recipes That You Can Make at Home
Easy Copycat Recipes of Your Favorite Japanese Restaurant Dishes

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