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Are you sick of wasting food and money? Do you want to be able to eat healthily but don’t have time to cook every night? I know that feeling all too well. That’s why I meal prep.
Meal prepping is great because it saves a lot of time and money. However, there’s one problem: you need to reheat meal prepped food before eating it.
While that does sound easy, improper reheating can make your otherwise delicious meal prep overcooked, dried out, or soggy. I’m sure we all have been there and made this mistake.
However, to make things easier for you, I’ll walk you through the essential tips of how to reheat meal prep food so that they taste just as good as when they were first cooked.
Is it Safe to Eat Reheated Meals?
The most important things to remember when reheating meal preps, or any food for that matter, is temperature control and duration.
Make sure to heat the food up to 165f in the deepest part of the meal to be properly reheated. A good rule of thumb is to reheat cooked foods once, to reduce any chances of food poisoning.
How to Reheat Meal Prep: Basic Tips
Food should be reheated the same way it was cooked
When you’re reheating your meals, think about how it was cooked. Most of your meal preparation was probably done on the stovetop or oven.
If parts of your meal were cooked on the stovetop, consider getting out a pan and heating it again. If the meal was oven-prepped, consider using an oven to reheat it.
However, if your meal-prepped food using a slow cooker or instant pot, consider using the stovetop or microwave to heat it up.
A thin, even layer is best for microwave reheating
Microwaves heat food by causing molecules in the food to vibrate rapidly, building up heat. The electromagnetic waves can leave cold spots so make to throughly check that the food is hot. We recommend probing two parts of the recipe.
For even heating, place your food in a thin, even layer across the plate. This will best distribute the heat around the food.
If possible, arrange your food in a ring around the perimeter of the plate instead of piling it into one big clump.
Reheat meals to a temperature of 165 F or above
As mentioned earlier, temperature control is an essential part of heating meal-prepped food.
To ensure your food is piping hot and all bacteria are killed, always reheat meals to a temperature of 165 F or above.
Most regular microwaves will reach this temperature within a minute, but some models may need up to two minutes for best results.
How to Reheat Meal Prep in Microwave
A microwave is usually the go-to method for reheating meal prep or leftover food as it’s convenient and quick. You can reheat pretty much all meals ranging from curries to baked goods, breakfasts to soups, and stews to egg dishes.
To reheat meal prep in a microwave, you can place it either covered or uncovered, but I have found that slightly covering works best. Ensure that the lid is microwave-safe and adjust the lid properly to release steam while it cooks (avoid using a sealed container inside a microwave.)
Heating for a minute should be sufficient for most meals, but for some ingredients, such as fish, heating on lower power and longer duration works best. If you require piping hot food, reheat for up to 90 seconds.
If you don’t want to use a microwave, the best alternative is an air fryer. It is an excellent alternative to reheating by microwave. Make sure to check our guide for reheating with an air fryer.
How to Reheat Meal Prep on Stove
Reheating food on the stove is best for anything cooked on the stove, which generally includes stews, soups, sauces, curries, rice dishes, pasta dishes, and meat dishes.
The advantage of using a stove is that you get more control over the heat. Similar to microwave, you can reheat your food covered or uncovered, but I find that slightly covering the dish will keep it moist and cook evenly.
Also, make sure to use a little bit of oil or water on the pan, which helps keep the food temperature constant. You can reheat it by either stirring or not, depending on whether you want to break the food apart while heating it.
For soups, sauces, curries, and chilis, make sure to bring it up to a boil before reducing the heat again. This maintains the temperature and ensures that your food is fully cooked and piping hot.
For dishes like rice, pasta, and stews, bring it up to a simmer before reducing the heat again. This will ensure that your meal-prepped food is warm enough but not overcooked.
How to Reheat Meal Prep in Oven
Reheating meal prepped food in the oven is also an excellent option to consider. Remember that reheating with an oven is best with food initially cooked in the oven.
Despite taking slightly longer than other methods, reheating in the oven is effective for meat dishes, baked pasta, casseroles, sheet pan meals, and more.
To reheat meal prep or leftover food in the oven, stick them uncovered or covered with aluminum foil to maintain moisture.
How to Reheat Meal Prep in Toaster Oven
If you prepare a meal in a toaster oven and want to retain its crispiness, you should use a toaster oven to reheat it. It works best for pizzas, quesadillas, sandwiches, roasted veggies, breakfast burritos, etc.
To reheat meal prep food in a toaster oven, place your leftovers on the grate of the toaster oven on top of aluminum foil (to prevent moisture gathering underneath.)
Adjust the distance between racks and set the preheated temperature to 400 degrees F for 10 minutes.
How to Reheat Frozen Meals
If you want to reheat your frozen foods, it is best to thaw in the refrigerator to avoid the food getting contaminated.
After they’re thawed and at room temperature, just reheat them in the stove or microwave as mentioned above, depending on your preference.
If you’re worried about the food being unsafe, get a thermometer and ensure that your meals are heating up to 165°F.
More How to Meal Prep Guides You May Like…
Yes, you can reheat meal prep chicken, but ensure not to overdo it as that can cause the chicken to become dry. You can use a bit of olive oil when reheating to keep the flavor.
As long as you are using microwave-safe containers and lids, reheating food in a microwave is safe. Make sure that the food has reached a temperature of at least 165f.
Most meal prep containers are freezer and microwave-friendly, meaning they can sustain the heat and cold. So, if you have microwave-friendly meal prep containers, you can heat them without any problem.
Reheating meal-prepped food can be done in many different ways, and these are some of the basic tips everyone should know. Hopefully, you feel confident in how to reheat meal prep, but if you have any questions about reheating meal prep, drop them in the comments. If you’re still have a look for more meal prep tips, have a look at our meal prep 101’s.
Richmond Howard started Meal Prepify in 2019 and has helped over a million people learn how to meal prep, get better at meal planning, and create a kitchen they love to use. He’s an avid home chef and loves to bbq, grill out, and make awesome food for family and friends. He’s been featured on MSN, Renaissance Periodization, and Good Financial Cents.