No party is complete without a big platter of wings, but in reality they should be eaten right out of the fryer, while they’re still hot and crispy. As soon as wings are put in a to-go box, they begin to steam, which rapidly reduces any crispiness and leaves you with flabby, fatty chicken skin with mushy meat underneath. And because they’re sauced, a trip to the oven won’t come close to crisping them back up.
Once a fry goes soggy, there’s nothing that can bring it back from the dead save for another visit to the deep-fryer. Fries taken to-go rarely maintain their crispiness during the ride home, and ones kept overnight in the fridge are essentially inedible. Sure, you can pop them in a hot oven for a few minutes, but the end results are definitely “last resort” fries.
Runny egg yolk does not travel well. First of all, the yolk will most likely break in transit, coating whatever it’s adorning with sticky, gloopy, congealed yolk. Second, even if it doesn’t break, it’ll be cold and unpleasant by the time you eat it. If you want eggs on your food, and you’re not in a restaurant, you’re going to have to cook them yourself.
If you eat half a burger or steak and assume that you can take the rest to go, reheat it, and it’ll be good as new, think again. A re-heated burger will be a well-done hockey puck on a stale bun every time, and that steak will never turn out to be anything other than well-done. Don’t even bother taking the burger to go; re-purpose the steak into a cold sliced steak sandwich.
It’s a fact that nobody wants to admit: Delivery pizza is never that good. New York-style pies are supposed to have a firm, crisp crust; after steaming inside a box for 20 minutes there’ll be a limp, soggy crust topped with half-congealed cheese. As for Neapolitan-style pizza, which has a slightly soggy crust to begin with? It’ll be a lost cause. If you want to re-heat pizza, we recommend bringing your oven (along with a baking sheet or pizza stone) up to 450 degrees, then bake the pizza until it’s crisped back up and the cheese has re-melted. But remember…
...Any time you re-melt cheese, you’re moving it further and further away from its most natural state and ruining its integrity. Re-heating a slice of pizza (that’s most likely already been reheated a couple times) will turn the cheese into a gloopy, greasy mess. There are few foods sadder than re-microwaved nachos. And as for, say, enchiladas? The cheese will only serve to steam what’s beneath it; talk about a gloopy mess.
Not only will reheating pre-cooked shrimp overcook them to oblivion, you really don’t want to be eating shrimp (or any shellfish, for that matter) that’s been hanging around for a little while, even the time it takes to get it home from the restaurant, due to the risk of foodborne illness.
Breakfast foods need to be eaten when they’re hot and steaming. Pancakes and waffles, in particular, are made with a buttery batter so that when fresh they have a pleasing crisp to the outside that really doesn’t stand the test of time. They go stale as soon as they start to cool down; pair that with steaming inside a to-go box and you’ve got a recipe for an unsatisfying breakfast.
Salads begin to wilt the moment dressing is applied, and it seems as if pre-made salads are always so overdressed that there’s a puddle of dressing on the bottom as well. Ask for the dressing on the side and wait to dress it until you’re ready to eat it. But don’t wait too long; pre-chopped lettuce will wilt in your fridge quicker than you think.
There are few foods more delicious than fried chicken right out of the fryer. But as soon as you put it into a to-go box the hot chicken will begin to steam itself, and by the time you get it home not only will the breading be soggy, it’ll be starting to fall off as well. At this point, there’s only one thing to do: put it in the fridge and eat it cold.
A word of advice: don’t attempt to reheat a wet sandwich. There’s no way to do it without completely sogging out the bottom bun to the point where it’s inedible mush. If you’ve got a sliced beef sandwich, like a French Dip or a beef on weck, you’ll be overcooking the meat while you reheat it as well. If you must get it to go, sacrifice the bread and re-assemble it on a new roll when it comes to time to eat it.