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In a pickle: How to prevent leftover food from getting soggy

Leftovers can be really good as long as the food doesn’t get soggy. Here are five ways to prevent just that.

 In a pickle: How to prevent leftover food from getting soggy

Photo credit: Warren_Price/iStock360/Getty Images

I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve never been a huge fan of leftovers. It used to just seem like “old food” and was never appealing to me. Now, looking back, the main reason was because I would always end up with soggy food the next day. I didn’t know how to store or reheat the leftovers in a way that the food tasted fresh a day or two later. Fast forward to today, and leftovers are actually one of my favorite foods to eat — whether for lunch the next day or dinner the next night. Here’s how to prevent your leftovers from getting soggy so you can actually enjoy them.


Store leftovers the right way

If you think you can loosely wrap your leftover dinner and it’ll taste fine the next day, think again. This is the perfect recipe for creating stale food, soggy food or even contaminated food. Instead, store leftover food in a dry, tightly sealed container. This includes food from a restaurant. Transfer the Chinese food, for example, into a different container before refrigerating. Food should be stored within two hours of cooking or less.


Don’t cram your fridge

Piling food and containers on top of each other in the fridge will not allow food to cool properly, thus creating food that doesn’t taste nearly as good the next day. Space your food so there’s about an inch of air all around, allowing the cool air to evenly circulate throughout the fridge. Clean out your fridge regularly so you don’t forget about your leftovers and always store them toward the front of the fridge for easy access.


Only microwave dry foods

Pasta is a perfect example of a food that will never be soggy reheated in the microwave. But, it will tend to be significantly drier than it was when it was fresh. Prevent this from happening by placing a damp paper towel on top of the pasta while reheating in the microwave. If you don’t have any paper towels, fill a coffee cup with water and microwave it along with the leftover food.


Reheat the same way it was prepared

If you sautéed vegetables for dinner last night, sauté the leftovers again for lunch today. Pizza is always made in the oven, so heat up the leftovers in it, as well. Rice is made on the stove, so heat it up on the stove with a splash of olive oil to restore the flavor. Though these methods are a bit more time-consuming than the traditional microwave, your food will taste notably better.


Eat leftovers the day after, if possible

Most leftover foods will last up to four days in the fridge, but there’s no guarantee they’ll taste the same on day four as they would have on day one. Try to eat the leftovers the next day, if possible. Your food will reheat better, the flavor will be the same (if not better) than the night before and you lessen your chances of forgetting about them.


You can sometimes create a whole new meal out of leftovers. Try this chicken adobo sandwich made from leftover chicken.

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