Chopped spinach in a frying pan

Using up leftovers

Meals you shouldn't reheat

Pre-cooking, heating up leftovers – many of us are grateful for a quick lunch. But what can you reheat and what should go in the bin? We separate fact from fiction.

Claudia Schmidt


Do you have leftover rice still in the pot on the stove from the previous evening? You should throw it away. As it slowly cools, particular bacteria in the rice multiply and produce toxins. If you put your leftover rice from the previous evening in the fridge, you can warm it back up with peace of mind. The rice should be thoroughly heated. You can do so in a pan on the stove, in the oven at 150°C or in the microwave. The rice should be steaming. However, you shouldn't keep the rice for longer than a day.


Reheating mushroom dishes was a big no for many of our grandparents and great-grandparents. Mushrooms spoil quickly due to their high protein content – particularly at room temperature. Back when there were no great options for chilling, it made sense not to reheat mushrooms. However, if you make sure to put your meat and mushroom stir-fry or similar dish into the fridge while it's still warm, the food will keep for longer. You can reheat it the following day without a worry. That being said, you must make sure that the food reaches at least 70°C to ensure you kill any bacteria. You should avoid reheating foods more than once.


Much like with mushrooms, reheating spinach was unthinkable for a long time. Bacteria is responsible in this case too. They turn the nitrate found in spinach into nitrite, which can be harmful to the human body. However, if you chill the spinach quickly and store it in the fridge, you can stop this process and reheat the spinach the following day without a worry. Once again, make sure to heat it to at least 70°C to kill off any bacteria. If you've reheated spinach once, however, you shouldn't keep it any longer. Reheating once is fine but heating it again after that is not recommended.


Never reheat fish was the general rule for a long time. A lack of chilling options was behind this recommendation as well, as the protein in fish spoils quickly at room temperature. However, if you quickly cool fish in the fridge, you can reheat and enjoy it again the next day. Heating it thoroughly is the key to safe enjoyment. Storing it for many days or reheating it more than once, however, is not recommended.


Chicken can be reheated without issue. As with all foods though, you must heat it thoroughly (to at least 70°C).

Pasta and potatoes

You'll always find information online that says you should only reheat pasta and potatoes to a limited extent. This is true. As with all foods, bacteria grows rapidly at room temperature and will cause food to spoil quickly. However, there's no issue with reheating potatoes and pasta that you've stored in the fridge. Just make sure you heat them thoroughly.

Taste and smell

Ultimately, you should always trust your senses when it comes to stored food. If it doesn't look, smell or taste good, it unfortunately needs to be thrown away.

Chilling and heating – a bunch of nonsense?

You may think: well I've always reheated foods left on the stove from the previous evening and I've never gotten ill from it? Why chill the food if I'm just going to eat it the next day? That may be. Perhaps you've got a strong stomach. However, vulnerable people, children, the elderly and sick individuals may react to "a little bacteria" completely differently. So it's best to put the food in the fridge and then reheat it thoroughly.

Preventing food waste

Do you hate throwing food away too? Here you can find out more on the topic of food waste. We'll give you valuable tips & tricks about planning and storage. You'll also find tasty ideas for how to reuse your leftovers on this page.