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Can Meal Prep Be Reheated? (How-To)

Meal prep always feels so satisfying when we finally have all our beautifully portioned containers laid out in front of us.

The urge to pull out your camera to savor the memory of your masterfully crafted, artistically assorted meals is almost too much to bear.

But what happens after you vacuum down your first meal and you have to consider the best way to bring your other meals up to a palatable temperature?

Can meal prepped food be reheated?

Meal prep food can be reheated. What typically happens is you microwave it regardless of the food contents inside of it, like myself and many others.

That doesn’t have to be the case, though. The truth is, depending on what type of food you are warming up, there are a number of different ways to reheat it.

beef and broccoli Stir fry meal prep in lunch box containers

In this article, we are going to go through different foods by category and establish how to reheat a prepped dinner without drying it out or losing that freshly made flavor!

The Best Methods for Each Type of Food

Your friends and coworkers might not understand the quiet pain of going home to the same dinner that is slowly lowering in quality with every passing day, but I do. You deserve better.

Meal prep is fantastic for your diet, your wallet, and your dwindling free time, but like all good things in life, it has its drawbacks.

The two biggest drawbacks for long-time meal preppers are the repetition of the same meal throughout the week and the uncomfortable knowledge that day four is going to taste much worse than day one.

What if I told you that life didn’t have to be this way every Thursday evening? I know I sound like a salesman, but the beauty of this article is that I’m not selling you anything but solid, helpful advice at no cost to you.

So sit back and hold off on hitting the pizza setting on your microwave because we are about to make reheating food quite a bit tastier.

The Microwave Can Be Very Useful

First off, I wanna point out that your microwave is not the enemy and can actually reheat certain foods quite effectively.

First off, when you do microwave, make sure things aren’t clumped up and uneven across the plate. You want to try and create a thin calorie-dense layer of food across the plate to ensure that everything is evenly cooked.

You can also choose to avoid the middle of the plate entirely and create food donuts on your plate. It works wonders on a meal and prevents gross cold spots in your supper.

Anyone who has heated up a frozen meal for too short of a time knows the immediate regret when you bite into the frozen center of a once appetizing snack.

heat Food in the microwave

Foods that Reheat Well in the Microwave

Now for what reheats well in the microwave—look to things that are primarily a liquid. Have you ever reheated a beef stew? It is as delicious as the moment you removed it from the crockpot.

You can also look to foods that are heavy in sauces like lasagnas, different types of pasta, or even meatloaf. The reason for this is the sauce helps the rest of the food retain moisture and prevents it from drying out, which is typically what ruins the taste of food in the microwave.

Instructions

All of the above options should be covered with a lid or, at the very least, a moist paper towel to prevent the food from drying out during the microwaving process.

Depending on how dense the amount of food is, it may help to move it around halfway through cooking time to make sure every part is getting cooked thoroughly.

If it is soupier in texture, then grab a spoon and whisk the contents around a bit so if there are cold spots, they are removed. Throwing in a slice of butter into a meal can also add a bit of moisture though it isn’t the healthiest option, so do so at your own discretion.

woman slowly getting the cooked food from the oven

Don’t Be Afraid to Use Your Oven

It feels weird to even mention the oven in the same breath as the word reheat, but it has several benefits.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t stress that using the oven is going to take quite a bit more of your evening up than using the microwave, but you only get one dinner a day; you deserve to enjoy it.

This is especially nice in the winter when you come home to a cold house. Nothing warms the belly and the body like a warm oven and a hot meal.

A good rule of thumb I’ve heard is that if you cooked something a certain way, you should reheat it in the same manner.

Obviously, you won’t be able to do this with every prepped dish you make, but it doesn’t hurt to try it on occasion when you are especially sick of desert-dry red beans and rice.

Foods that Reheat Well in the Oven

The best type of food for the oven is going to be anything that has bread or starch in it.

This can be as obvious as something like garlic bread to something a bit more protein-based like fried chicken. You can also venture over to things like paninis, pastries, or other bread-heavy food products.

The reason for this is that when you microwave bready food, it tends to turn incredibly mushy and almost slimy, which can be nauseating for most.

You can also utilize the oven for reheating fish, shellfish, and other seafood. The low and slow method is far more preferable than nuking some salmon and having to choke down that dried-out result.

Instructions and Reheating Time

Typically speaking, if you are going to reheat food in the oven, you will want to keep the temperature on the lower side at about 350°F.

Covering food with aluminum foil is a good way to prevent overcooking while also making sure the meal doesn’t dry out!

Depending on the size of the portions involved, you are looking at a time of 5 minutes all the way up to 20 minutes if you are reheating food from the freezer.

Put It Back in a Pan

Sometimes the best thing you can do for a meal is heat it up like you are cooking it for the first time.

It can also be done relatively quickly as well because you are worrying less about it being cooked through and more about it being warmed throughout, which takes considerably less time.

There is no shortage of dishes you can breathe some life back into by throwing them back into a skillet on top of the stove.

fried vegetables with sauce on a pan

Foods that Reheat Well in a Pan

If you have a big portion of meat, then you should absolutely reheat it on the stovetop. It will taste much juicier than if it was reheated in the microwave, and you can even reseason it and add in a bit of oil or butter to freshen it up.

When reheating meat in a pan, you will want to keep the temperature on the lower settings, so you don’t sear the meat, which is more vulnerable to overcooking the second time.

Another great option is any meal that is heavy in rice, pasta, or even stir-fries.

Not only can you keep a lot of the moisture reheating by pan, but you can also sprinkle in a bit more liquid with whatever you find appropriate for the dish.

While you can microwave saucy pasta, it will come out better on the stovetop if you have the time to spare.

Instructions and Reheating Time

Like with the microwave and oven, you are going to want to cover most of these dishes if possible to prevent vapor from escaping.

You will still want to grease your pan like normal and ensure that the dish is receiving a sufficient amount of attention or you risk overcooking it.

Typically speaking, reheating on a stovetop will take around 5 minutes or less, though bigger servings could require more time.

Conclusion

See, day four doesn’t have to be so grotesque after all.

If you take a little bit of time to baby these leftovers back to life, you can make delicious meals well after their initial creation. So the next time you are staring at dinner number five like it stole your happiness, remember that you have more than just the microwave at your disposal!

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