How many times can you really reheat leftovers?

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In a time when we are all keen to reduce food waste, reheating leftovers may seem like the best and budget-friendly thing to do. But just how many times we can get away with warming up that leftover lasagne or curry without putting ourselves at risk of food poisoning?

There seems to be many opposing views on the matter, so we at The Healthy Mummy HQ have endeavoured to find out exactly what the go is.

Here’s what food experts have to say on the matter…


How many times can you really reheat leftovers?

You can reheat food as many times as you like, according to science journalist and television presenter, Michael Mosley – as long as the temperature is 75 degrees all the way through! Use a cooking thermometer is perfect to check this.

Label your food

Leftovers stored in the freezer compared with the fridge is deemed safer –  food doesn’t last as long in the fridge aa bacteria can grow on it.

Bacteria cannot form on food stored in the freezer at freezing temperatures. This being said, it is smart to label your leftovers with the date they were made, that way your not eating something that is months old!

However, when it comes to pregnant women, they need to consume refrigerated leftovers within 24 hours, advises Lydia Buchtmann – a spokesperson for the Food Safety Information Council – to minimise the risk of exposure to bacteria and foodborne illnesses.

A good rule to go by is ‘if in doubt, throw it out’!


Risk factors

Reheating leftovers to 75 degrees celsius will kill most bacteria that causes food poisoning, but there are some exceptions, one being bacillus cereus, a pathogen which lives in rice.

“Bacillus cereus is that it produces a toxin, and unfortunately the toxin is heat stable,” says Mosley.

Therefore, this will stay in the rice when it is cooled slowly or if you leave in the pot after steaming, in the microwave after heating or in a container after the rice has cooled.

You can prevent this bacteria from forming by dividing leftovers up into small containers so they cool quickly and as soon as the food has stopped steaming you can store in the fridge or freezer.

Microwave vs. stove top and oven

Microwaves are a HUGE time saver for us busy mums – especially if have young hungry kids that want their food on the table ASAP.

If reheating your leftovers in a microwave, make sure to stop it every few minutes and stir to ensure there is an evenly dispersed heat throughout the food.

Every microwave is different so make sure you read your manual and know its voltage.

Not a fan of microwaves? No worries, using your oven or stop top is another excellent way to reheat food. Make sure the oven is preheated to its set temperature and this will make reheating quicker and more thorough.

If using the stove top use a saucepan big enough to ensure all the food is getting touched by the heat. This will require some time but it is worth the wait!

february challenge

Take on the 28 Day Weight Loss Challenge for our month of Meal Prep & Time Saver! The best way to meet your healthy eating goals is to up your game in meal planning and prepping to keep organised and reduce your stress levels at meal times. Starting January 29!

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