Next-day Chinese Food

By Sharon Naylor

August 15, 2013 4 min read

If your family frequently orders Chinese food for takeout or delivery, you know there's typically too much food in those takeout boxes to eat in one sitting. So leftovers go into the refrigerator intended as a next-day meal. But many families find that the small amount of lo mein or tung-ting shrimp in each box isn't enough for a full meal. So in a few days, those containers wind up in the trash. According to the food bloggers on, American families throw out 30 percent of their food, which is a tremendous waste of money.

So even if you have a small amount of each of your Chinese food dishes left over, you can use the leftovers as dish-builders to create an entirely fresh and new meal. Food health safety experts advise eating leftover Chinese food the next day, because bacteria can grow in food that was kept out on the counter for too many hours or put into the refrigerator while the food at the bottom of each container was still warm. Make your Chinese food leftover dishes a next-day plan to keep your family safe from food-borne illnesses.

Here are some ways to turn those Chinese food ingredients into tasty new menu options:

--Turn them into noodle dishes by adding freshly cooked Asian noodles such as shirataki noodles, or even thin spaghetti you have in your pantry, and mixing the veggie-filled Chinese food with the noodles for a big family-style stir-fry, says the blog "Married Food."

--Add more fresh vegetables, advise the healthy food bloggers on Snap peas, broccoli, cauliflower, julienned carrots, julienned zucchini and asparagus are among their recommended nutrition-boosters and dish-stretchers.

--Add more lean meat or seafood. Freshly cooked strips of pork loin or heart-healthy salmon fill a veggie and noodle dish, or a rice dish, with great proteins and keep fat levels low.

--Fill omelettes with Asian food leftovers, or create an Asian-flair frittata or quiche for a full family meal.

--Create Asian tacos, burritos or quesadillas using those saucy veggies as your fillings and fresh plum sauce added for sweetness.

--Those batter-fried meats, such as those in General Tso's chicken or sweet-and-sour chicken, are likely a bit soggy the next day, so pluck them out and use the flavor-infused veggies as a side dish for a healthy protein or seafood meal.

--Combine portions that go together naturally, like fried rice and beef with broccoli, and then add fresh crunch with those leftover baked flat noodles in the cellophane bag crumbled on top.

--Add a small amount of a leftover soup such as egg drop, hot and sour, or wonton to a stir-fry to add extra flavor and liquid. suggests several uses for that box of white rice that nobody touches and so it stays in your refrigerator until trash day. Give that white rice new life by mixing in freshly cooked meats and vegetables and stirring in leftover Chinese food sauces from the dishes that lost their fried meat pieces.

--Use white rice as a base for a veggie- and herb-stuffed green or red pepper, stuffed cabbage or stuffed tomatoes. suggests a sweet treat made from leftover Chinese food white rice, one that costs a pretty penny in your grocery store: rice pudding.

Considering that a Chinese food takeout order can cost more than $30 in some instances -- and much more if you have a large family or like to feast on multiple dishes and courses -- making two meals out of your order gives your food budget a break, and your second-day dishes can be healthy, as well as delicious.

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