How many times have you eaten leftovers from last night the next day? Or cooked extra servings to save time? The common procedure involved in both the cases is refrigerating and reheating the extra food. But is this practice bad for your health? Let’s find out.
Reheating precooked cooked can be bad when done multiple times as the food loses its nutrient value as well as some taste. Depending on the kind of food, it can become rubbery or soggy as well. But if you follow simple tips while reheating, you can make sure your food is still tasty and healthy like the fresh meal.
First and foremost, pack the extra food in a container and refrigerate it quickly after cooking. If you let it stay outside for hours, it can go bad there itself as bacterial growth is prompted in high temperatures and shunned in low ones. But that does not mean you put it in the fridge right after you take it off the gas burner when it is piping hot. Let it cool down a little and then store it in the fridge. (Read: Frozen food – healthy or unhealthy?)
When you reheat it the next day, sprinkle a few drops of water on top of the dish before you heat it especially if you are using the microwave. This will prevent it from getting too dry.
Foods like leftover breads, pizzas, fried foods, etc can become very soggy in the microwave. You cannot get that crispiness it had when it was fresh. In order to avoid this, try heating it over the gas or in an oven instead of the microwave.
In case of gravy dishes, dals and even soups, heat with the lid on for about a minute and then take off the lid, stir the contents and then continue heating. This will ensure uniform hotness in the food.
Try and include at least one fresh dish or topping in your meal. It can be the form of a salad, a garnish of fresh mint leaves or even a sprinkle of lemon juice on the dish. This will not only add some more taste to the food but the fresh ingredients will provide the required nutrients and energy to your body which the leftovers may not.
Use leftovers within two to three days of cooking even if you’ve stored them properly in the refrigerator and preferably don’t reheat food more than once. If you have too much extra food, take out the quantity required at that time and reheat only that much instead of the whole bowl. (Read: Give your leftover food a makeover!)
If the food smells funny or tastes too different than the original meal, do not consume it as it has gone bad. Throw it away at once and eat something fresh instead.
Though fresh food is always better and much more nutritious, you can reheat food once in a while when in a hurry but try not to make it a daily practice.
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