After more than a year of a global pandemic, everyone’s ordered takeout from their favorite restaurant a time or two by now. It may not feel the same, eating your favorite meals in your own kitchen, without the ambiance of your favorite local kitchen and bar. But it’s close enough, and hey—you’re not going hungry, and you’re still supporting an establishment you love.
We know, though, that after not going out to your favorite restaurants for so long, you may be feeling ambivalent about food in general. Never fear! We have five tips for enjoying better restaurant takeout.
- Don’t Just Run to the Microwave!
Tossing it into the microwave and hoping for the best might work some of the time, but some meals aren’t meant for that. Restaurant meals are usually a little on the large side, so you may not finish the whole meal in one sitting. Pre-pandemic, you might have boxed up your leftovers for a treat at lunch the next day, but they never really matched the delicious dish from the night before. Your first thought might be to run to the microwave if you have something that needs reheating, but it may not be the right appliance for the job.
Consider your other appliances: you also have your stovetop, your oven, and the broiler in your oven. You may also have a toaster oven.
Pay special attention to the texture of your food when you’re reheating it as well. For instance, beef, chicken, and seafood are all intended to be moist, so you should reheat at a low temperature for a longer time period in order to keep that moisture present. You can also add a little oil or butter if you note your takeout needs a little revitalizing.
- Appearances Matter
Studies have shown that if you arrange your takeout food (or even fast food) on a plate, use cutlery, adjust the lighting in your dining room, and sit at the dining room table instead of on the couch, you’ll enjoy your meal a lot more. Also, put your phone away. Being away from your devices while you eat will help you be more mindful of your meal, and you’ll pay attention to the flavors and textures of the food in front of you. You’ll also be more aware of when you feel full, which means you’ll consume fewer calories.
Pay attention to the lighting in your space as well. If you’re eating something with strong flavors, humans tend to enjoy eating it in a stronger light. Eating foods with more subtle flavors are better served and consumed in a dimmer or intimate light.
If you turn on a little background music, you’ll capture a little ambiance as well, except you’ll have the power to skip songs you might not like, unlike in a restaurant.
- Spruce Up Your Salads
If you order a salad and take half of it home for lunch tomorrow, you might experience a little sogginess the next day. The lettuce may be a little wilted and not as exciting as you first thought. Whether you’re getting your salad greens from a grocery store or a restaurant, whenever the cut ends of the lettuce, mixed greens, or spinach are exposed to air, they begin to lose moisture from their leaves. This is why grocery stores have that sprayer that inevitably wets your hand as soon as you reach for a head of lettuce.
You may not be able to give your leftover salad a bath in order to perk up those leaves, but storing your salad in the refrigerator and then adding something crunchy or something with an interesting texture the next day will go a long way toward revitalizing it. Some of these add-ons could include croutons, sliced carrots or celery, raisins or dried cranberries, crunchy lo mein noodles and sections of mandarin oranges, or nuts and seeds. Some of this texture could include creamy or soft ingredients too. How about a hardboiled egg or a few slices of avocado?
Try not to add too many of the same kinds of texture—too much crunch may make it hard to work your jaws later.
- Dinnertime Is Family Time
Whether you’re enjoying your meal with your family, a friend, or your roommates, you’ll not only enjoy the companionship of the people around you, you’ll also feel more satisfied with the experience of dining. If you live alone, why not schedule a regular dinner time video chat with friends or family? If you’re too busy during the week, how about lunch or brunch on the weekend? It’s an easy way to feel connected to your loved ones, even if you live far away from them.
This sort of bonding also leads to better self-esteem, improves communication skills, and feelings of connection in adults. It also has a number of benefits for the children in your household, promoting healthy coping skills, healthy eating habits, and helping kids bounce back from ugly things like cyberbullying. Spending a regular amount of time with your family—having conversations and enjoying a meal—also helps you blow off steam from the day, and you can expect to lower your stress levels as well.
- Drink Out of a Glass
Along the same lines as our second point, if you pour your water or another drink into a glass, your takeout meal is going to have a little something extra. While we can’t sell you our Famous 48 custom drinks or cans and bottles of craft beers, you can buy them separately and mix them yourself if you want to pair your adult beverage with your takeout meal. It just requires a little bit more planning if you know exactly what you’re going to order.
Plus, drinking beer from a glass will promote better enjoyment of the beer itself since your sense of smell won’t be hampered by the can. Pouring the beer into a glass activates the carbonation and creates a foamy head. Inhaling the scent of the beer mixes with the flavor your taste buds register. It’s the equivalent of surround sound for your tongue. So enjoy that beer from a glass, and may your takeout meal (and your leftovers) be a wonderful experience at home.