One of the biggest hassles with eating healthy is preparing several fresh meals each and every day.
It can be tiring to spend that much time in the kitchen. This is why a lot of people end up ordering out or going through the drive-thru.
While those options can save time, they also end up costing money and health. Instead, a healthier, more affordable option is already available in your kitchen.
Storing leftovers for the following day saves time and helps you continue to eat healthy meals. But, when you reheat a meal, it tends to taste soggy or bland.
By sprucing up the meal, you can restore the flavor and even make the meal taste better than it did when it was fresh.
Here are a few creative ways to save your leftover meals and stop wasting food.
Make Sure That Your Food is Stored Properly
The very first solution is to make sure that you properly store your leftovers. This increases the freshness of the meal, which helps increase the flavor of the meal.
So, use plastic storage containers to ensure you have an airtight seal. You can also use plastic freezer bags. If you reuse containers, also remember to properly wash them before reusing.
Within about two hours of preparing the meal, you should decide if you’re going to finish it or save it for later. After two hours, you risk contamination.
How long can you store your food? Generally, you’ll want to eat your leftovers within 4 days. After that, the food should be tossed. But, you may find that some meals begin to spoil after a couple of days.
Typically, if there is a lot of leafy greens or veggies in the meal, the quality will begin to suffer from each passing day. Whenever possible, you should try to consume your leftovers the following day.
Reheat Dishes in Your Microwave
The microwave isn’t always thought of as the best appliance for creating flavorful meals. But, it can be much more effective than a standard oven for reheating your meals. The oven will end up drying out your meal, resulting in a shriveled mess.
With a microwave, you have much more control. You don’t have to dry your food.
When you microwave a meal, place a damp paper towel over the plate or bowl. This will help lock in the moisture, even add a little moisture, and keep your food from drying out.
Add Seasoning After Reheating in the Microwave
You should wait until you’ve heated your meal to add a bit of flavoring. There’s a good chance that you already added salt and pepper when you prepared the meal, so you don’t’ want to overdo it.
Instead, reheat your meal, allow it to cool slightly, and then use seasoning to resurrect the flavor.
Reheat Stews, Soups, and Sauces on the Stovetop
The microwave is great for reheating most meals, but stews and soups should be heated on the stovetop. The process is simple. Pour your leftovers into a saucepan or pot and begin to heat.
Add a small amount of water, to help thin the soup or sauce. As your meal sits in the fridge, it will likely thicken. The water will help without causing the meal to become too runny. Add about 1 tablespoon of water at a time. Wait until the soup or sauce begins to heat before adding more water.
Use Your Leftover Meat for Salads and Wraps
Meat is one of the easiest foods to reuse. When you’ve got leftover chicken, steak, or turkey, you’ve got instant ingredients for salads, wraps, and even stir-fry.
If possible, store your meat without any sides. This gives you more options when reusing the meat. So, if you cooked chicken and veggies, store the chicken separately from the veggies.
You can easily cut cooled meat into cubes or chunks to add to a salad or to combine with other ingredients and add to a wrap. Since the meat is pre-cooked, it’s up to you whether or not you should reheat the meat.
Throw Away Lettuce and Delicate Veggies
Salads are more difficult to store, as are any meals that include lettuce or leafy vegetables. These items will likely wilt inside your fridge. So, in some cases, it is best to remove these veggies before you store your leftovers.
You can easily freshen up a meal by replacing the lettuce as you prepare the leftovers. This actually brings us to the next tip…
Use Fresh Ingredients to Breathe New Life into the Meal
The next suggestion is to add fresh ingredients. This easiest example is with salad. You can replace the lettuce to create a fresh salad while keeping the chicken, tomato, and other ingredients.
Another example is stir-fry. As you reheat the meal, add a few chunks of fresh veggies and fruit.
Start Making Larger Meals and Spend Less Time in the Kitchen
Becoming a pro leftover chef will require practice. You’ll need to experiment with different meals and learn what works best. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll find the leftovers can taste just as good as the original meal.
This is when you’ll want to start making larger meals to store more leftovers.
When you have leftovers, you don’t have to cook. This makes it easier to eat healthy meals and find healthy options. This is especially helpful if you’re cooking for one or two people.
Every time you prepare a meal that is intended to serve 4, you have an extra meal ready for the following day.
Continue to use these tips to improve the quality of your leftovers. The main consideration is the process that you use to reheat the food.
The oven can dry out your meals while a microwave can help the meal retain moisture while the stovetop is perfect for reheating soups and sauces.
There’s no reason for your food to go to waste. Start boosting the flavor of your leftovers and spend less time in the kitchen.