By Molly Patrick
Nov 13, 2021,
Some people love microwaves, others do not.
I’m somewhere in between. I have one because it came with my house, but I rarely use it. Not because I think microwaves are evil, I just didn’t grow up using one, so I never think to heat up my food this way. If heating up food using a microwave is your jam, go on with your bad self! If you don’t have a microwave or want to learn how to reheat food without one, here are some pointers on how to reheat leftovers without a microwave.
These are the methods I use in my day-to-day life, and they preserve the flavors and the textures of your food. In other words, this is how to reheat leftovers so they don’t taste like leftovers. Aim for medium heat with the following methods. It’s better to reheat slowly than to use higher heat and dry out your food.
Reheating soups, sauces, and oatmeal without a microwave
When I reheat soups, stews, beans, sauces, or any kind of oatmeal or porridge (when I’m not eating it cold!), I reach for a basic, appropriately sized pot and reheat my food on the stove at a medium temperature. This method is simple, and it heats more evenly than a microwave, especially with larger portions. If something looks too thick, I add a bit of water or plant milk (whichever makes more sense) and stir.
Reheating stir-fry on the stovetop
When I reheat stir-fries or fried rice, I use the stove as well, but I reach for a big wok or skillet so everything has space to reheat evenly and doesn’t clump together.
Reheating starchy foods like potatoes and squash
When it comes to reheating starchy foods that were originally roasted or baked in the oven, like potatoes, winter squash, beets, or carrots, I like to return them to the oven to reheat. The same goes for any kind of patties/burgers and veggie loaves.
Microwaves turn starch to mush, whereas the circulating oven air helps starchy food maintain a firm, crisp texture. There’s no need to use the same oven temperature with reheating as when you cooked something the first time. I’ll usually set my oven to about 350ºF and check it after 10 minutes, depending on the size of what I’m reheating.
If you don’t want to wait for your oven to heat and you’re preparing a smaller portion, a toaster oven works well and is quicker. Better yet, if you have an air fryer, the hi-speed circulated air helps heat and crisp food quickly.
Reheating grains and non-starchy vegetables by steaming them
If you’re reheating things that don’t need to be crisp or firm, like lasagna, grains, or non-starchy veggies such as broccoli or greens, you can use the steam method. People have been steaming food for thousands of years, so this one is time-tested and super easy. There are many ways to steam food, but it all comes down to these four simple things: some water, a pot, something to hold the food, and a lid.
Using a steamer basket to reheat food
My favorite setup is a pot with a tight lid and a steamer basket that fits inside the pot. This reheating method is better known as the pot-in-pot technique (or PIP for short).
- Put about 1/2–1 cup of water in the pot
- Place the steamer basket in the pot, making sure it sits above the water
- Add the food to the steamer basket
- Cover the pot with a lid
- Place on the stove over medium heat for 3–5 minutes, depending on what you’re reheating.
Using an Instant Pot to heat up your food
You can also do the PIP technique by using an Instant Pot. Add a cup or so of water to the inner pot, followed by an oven-safe bowl. Place your food in the bowl, lock the lid into place, and cook for 1–3 minutes (depending on what’s being reheated) using the Manual setting.
Reheating cooked pasta without a microwave
If I’m making something like mac and cheese or pasta with red sauce and veggies, I always store my cooked pasta separately from my sauces and veggies in the fridge. This way, the pasta doesn’t absorb all of the sauce, and it’s much easier to heat up. When I’m ready to eat, I place however much cooked pasta I want in a bowl and cover it with boiling water. If I have some steamed broccoli, I add it to the pasta and boiling water to reheat. As the pasta and broccoli are warming up, I heat my sauce in a pot on the stove. When my sauce is hot, I drain the pasta and broccoli, put it back into my bowl, and add the sauce. Easy peasy!
Did you know that some people don’t reheat our Meal Plan food at all? They batch and then eat everything cold! The beautiful thing about batch cooking is you have food in your fridge ready to go when you get hungry. All you have to do is decide how to heat it up (or not!) and chow. It’s so much easier to reheat food than to cook a meal every night from scratch. Once the cooking for the week is done, the rest is golden.
Do you have any other methods you use to heat up your batched food? Talk to us in the comments below!
- 1½ cups beets, peeled and cubed (½-inch cubes)
- 3 tablespoons red onion, diced
- 1 clove garlic, peeled and left whole
- 2 tablespoons dates, pitted (soaked in water for 10 minutes)
- 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1 tablespoon blackstrap molasses
- ½ teaspoon vegan Worcestershire sauce
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon onion powder
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper (about 10 turns)
- ⅛ teaspoon mustard powder
- ⅛ teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 pinch ground nutmeg
- 1 pinch ground ginger
- Preheat your oven to 400°F (205°C).
- Place a large sheet of aluminum foil on a baking sheet then place a sheet of parchment paper on top of the foil. Place the cubed beets, onion, and garlic clove on one half of the foil/parchment. Fold the parchment paper then the foil over the vegetables and seal the edge. Next, fold up the two sides to seal the packet.
- Slide the foil packet to the center of the baking sheet and place in the oven for 25 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool enough to handle.
- Drain the dates (discard the soaking water) and place them into your blender. Add the cooked beet mixture and all of the remaining ingredients. Blend until creamy and smooth. Refrigerate overnight for best flavor.
- Serve with your favorite french fries!
Wishing you a happy week. May it be filled with scrumptious leftovers that you can easily reheat without (or with!) a microwave! Tell us your best tips for reheating leftovers below.