When you have leftovers from a night out, to-go containers are the norm for transporting food. But when you look to reheat the next day, you may ask yourself, “Are restaurant to-go containers microwavable?” Figuring out if you’re in the clear to reheat the next day can be a tough call. So, we found out what can be nuked without incident and what may cause a mini-fire in the microwave.
What’s Safe for the Microwave
It’s safe to heat up foods in glass, ceramic and containers with a waxy finish. This includes Chinese takeout containers—but remember to remove the metal handles prior to microwaving. You’re also good to use paper goods (such as paper plates and paper towels) as well as parchment paper.
This is how to microwave leftovers—without destroying them!
What’s Not Safe for the Microwave
Unfortunately, single-use plastic containers are typically not microwave-safe. This tends to be the majority of restaurant to-go containers, so check for a microwave-safe label before putting that container in the microwave. You can also repackage your leftovers in microwave-safe containers. Psst! Here’s the best way to store every type of leftover food.
The other containers not safe for the microwave include:
- aluminum goods
- styrofoam products
- anything that is meant to be used in the cold, like butter tubs or yogurt containers
Plus, anything with a metallic or metal rim is bad news for heating in the microwave. Transfer these leftover foods to a plate instead. Find clever ways to repurpose your leftovers, too.
The Great Plastic Debate
The question of reheating food in plastic to-go containers is a hot topic. Melissa Bailey, a registered dietitian and founder of The Nourished Fork, explains that even if the container may not look damaged after microwaving, single-use plastic may not be the best choice for reheating food. In some cases, chemicals may leach into the food if the food reacts to the container itself.
“I would recommend reheating all food on a plate or switching to a glass container to heat, rather than keeping food in the plastic container,” Bailey says. “While the jury is still out on this topic, I would try to limit the use of plastic containers as much as possible, and definitely avoid heating foods in them. It is better to be safe than sorry.”
However, according to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA), plastics that are deemed “microwave-safe,” are, in fact, safe for the microwave.