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While I’m all for preventing food waste knowing which takeaway leftovers are safe to eat is important and could save you and your family from serious food borne illnesses.
We’ve all done it. Phoned for a cheeky Chinese or Indian on a Saturday night, ordered way too much food and been left with a huge pile of takeaway leftovers. Whether your sharing with friends or ordering a romantic meal for two there always seems to be more food than you could possibly eat.
I think what happens next often falls into two very different camps.
Will eat all leftovers the next morning, usually has a hangover. Shoves everything on a plate and microwaves for two minutes regardless of whether said foods go together or whether they have been reheated to the correct temperature.
Throws all leftover food into the bin when finished and feels mildly guilty about the waste but also doesn’t want to give family food poisoning from leftover food.
While these two sides are pretty extreme I think a lot people do fall into them. It’s a lack of knowledge in both directions on what is safe to eat and what is not. Hopefully with this post I can explain the best way to look after your takeaway leftovers and turn them into another meal to avoid food waste and avoid wasting money.
The first thing to do in regards to making takeaway leftovers safe to eat the next day is to store them correctly overnight. All left overs should be properly sealed and places in the fridge overnight, once they have cooled down. The only things I would avoid refrigerating are snacks such as prawn crackers and poppadoms.
If you are going reheat any leftovers make sure you are heating them to the correct temperature – which is higher than what food that is being cooked for the first time needs to be and is 82 degrees centigrade. Make sure food is piping hot before eating – if you don’t have a probe a trick I use is to put the tip of a knife into the center of the food and then place it on my hand just above my thumb. If the knife is burning hot the food is reheated enough to eat. If the knife is warm or you can bare it on your hand for a few minute seconds then the food is not hot enough.
The one food you should NEVER reheat after having a takeaway
There is one food that you should never, ever reheat if you have it from the takeaway and that is rice. Rice you have cooked yourself at home is fine to be reheated once provided you have cooled and stored it correctly.
Rice you are buying from the takeaway has already been cooked once and then reheated when you ordered it with your takeaway. Takeaways do not cook rice to order.
Cooked rice can contain spores that multiply into bacteria at room temperature and reheating rice does not kill these. Reheating rice for a second time is never advised as the rice will have been at room temperature not once, but twice and chance of it contain spores and bacteria that cause vomiting and diarrhea is much more likely.
Tips for what to do with takeaway leftovers
Here are my top tips for making the most of your takeaway leftovers to avoid wasting food and wasting money!
- Make sure leftovers are stored correctly if you do plan to eat them the next day – cover it and put it in the fridge – DO NOT leave it out overnight.
- Reheat leftover food until it is piping hot – not just warm.
- Don’t forget takeaway leftovers can be eaten cold too – I often turn leftover salad and chicken tikka from the Indian into a lovely light lunch.
- If you don’t think you’ll eat your takeaway leftovers the next day why not pop them in the freezer? This works particularly well for left over Pizza. Just defrost and reheat.
- NEVER reheat rice you have bought from a takeaway as it has already been reheated once and is more likely to contain harmful bacteria that could cause illness.