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The Ultimate Guide to Perfectly Reheating Leftovers: The Heating Leftovers Rule You Should Always Follow

The heating leftovers rule you should always follow

Leftovers are a valuable resource that can save you money, provide convenient meals, and allow you to enjoy your favorite dishes multiple times. In fact, a survey conducted by OnePoll found that 72% of Americans are fans of leftovers, with soup being the favorite leftover for 79% of respondents (source: Yahoo! Sports). However, when it comes to reheating leftovers, many people struggle to achieve the same level of deliciousness as the original meal. Fortunately, there is a leftover heating rule that can help you reheat your food to perfection.

The Importance of Adjusting Power Levels

If you’ve been using your microwave by simply setting the timer and pressing a few buttons, you may not be getting the best results when reheating leftovers. According to Cook Anyday, adjusting the power levels of your microwave can make a significant difference in how your reheated food tastes. The trick is to heat your leftovers at a slower, gentler rate, allowing the residual heat in the chamber to do the work instead of relying solely on the microwave’s heat.

Understanding Power Level Settings

Different foods require different power level settings for optimal reheating. Whirlpool recommends that you adjust the power level based on the type of food you are preparing. Here are some general guidelines:

  • For ham and stew: Set the power level to 50%. This moderate power level allows for even reheating without overcooking or drying out the food.
  • For defrosting food and melting butter: Consider using a power level of 20%. This lower power level helps thaw frozen foods without cooking them.
  • For rice and pasta: Increase the power level to 80%. This higher power level ensures that the food is thoroughly heated and ready to eat.

Retaining moisture in reheated food

A common problem when reheating leftovers is the loss of moisture, which can result in dry and unappealing dishes. To combat this, the Food Network suggests adding a little water to your dish before reheating or covering the food with a wet towel to create steam. These moisture-preserving techniques can help preserve the texture and flavor of your leftovers, making them as enjoyable as the first time you ate them.

Benefits of Following the Heating Leftovers Rule

By following this rule for heating leftovers and adjusting the power levels of your microwave, you can enjoy several benefits:

  1. Improved flavor: Heating leftovers at a slower, gentler rate allows flavors to develop and distribute evenly, resulting in a more delicious meal.
  2. Consistency: By using residual heat and direct heat in a half-and-half fashion, you can achieve consistent reheating throughout your leftovers.
  3. Time-saving: Reheating leftovers in the microwave is generally faster than using other methods such as the stovetop or oven.
  4. Saves money: Properly reheating leftovers can extend their shelf life, reduce food waste and save you money at the grocery store.
  5. Convenience: Having delicious leftovers on hand makes mealtime convenient, especially for busy individuals or families.


Don’t let the fear of reheating leftovers keep you from enjoying their benefits. By following the leftovers heating rule of adjusting the power level in your microwave and incorporating moisture preservation techniques, you can take your leftovers to a whole new level of deliciousness. So the next time you have leftovers to reheat, remember to take a little extra time to adjust the power level and add some moisture, and you’ll be rewarded with a satisfying and flavorful meal that tastes just as good as the first time.


Why is it important to adjust the power levels when reheating leftovers?

Adjusting the power levels ensures that your leftovers are reheated evenly and prevents food from overcooking or drying out.

How do I adjust the power level on my microwave?

Most microwaves have a power level button or setting that allows you to adjust the power level. Check your microwave manual for specific instructions.

Can I use the same power level for all types of leftovers?

No, different foods require different power settings for optimal reheating. It’s important to follow the recommended power levels based on the type of food you are reheating.

How does adding water or using a wet towel help retain moisture in reheated food?

Adding a little water to your bowl or covering the food with a wet towel creates steam, which helps retain moisture in reheated food and prevents it from drying out.

Can I reheat leftovers other than in the microwave?

Yes, you can reheat leftovers on the stovetop or in the oven. However, adjusting the power level in the microwave is generally faster and more convenient for reheating small portions.

Are there any other benefits to following the leftover heat rule?

Yes, following the Heating Leftovers Rule not only improves the taste and texture of reheated food, it also saves time and money and reduces food waste. It is a convenient way to enjoy delicious meals without compromising flavor.

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