Meal prep is an excellent time-saver and money-saver; there is no doubt about this. However, if you don't use the proper tools and storage techniques, your efforts will go in vain.
Think about it; a meticulously prepared favorite meal tossed away because it spoiled under improper storage conditions! What a loss of time, effort, and money too! That's the last thing you want after a successful meal prepping!
This is why it is crucial to follow proper storing techniques and choose the right containers so that you can savor your healthy meal prep. Refrigerating and freezing your meal are the two critical steps in meal prepping. Get these two things right. You're on your way to a week's worth of meals that are fresh and healthy.
Let's take a quick look at how to store and how long to store your prepped meal.
Storing your fresh meal prep
Type of containers
Glassware: Choose glass containers that are oven safe. Also, they are see-through, easy to re-heat your food and dishwasher- friendly. Mason jars work well for salads, breakfast oats/porridge, as well as storing salad dressings and sauces.
BPA-free freezer bags: These save space in the freezer, easy to label, and can also be washed and reused a few times.
What & where to store?
Perishables: Store salads, greens, herbs, fruits in an airtight container. Use a paper towel to wrap the salad greens, strawberries, cilantro, etc. so it wicks away moisture. Always store chopped produce in the front of the refrigerator at eye level. This way, these highly perishable items are not hiding behind other large containers, and you remember to use them ASAP. Avoid storing produce with high moisture content like tomatoes, melons in the freezer.
Cooked foods: Cooked foods are great for freezers as they tend to freeze well. Once prepared, allow them to cool to room temperature, store in airtight containers, and freeze them with the date labeled. If you plan to store cooked food within 3 – 4 days, it is good to stay in the fridge.
How long to store in refrigerator and freezer?
If you plan to refrigerate Refrigeration at 40°F or lower Ground poultry or ground beef (cooked): 1-2 days Whole meats, fish and poultry; soups and stews (cooked) : 3- 4 days Cooked beans: 5 days Eggs (hard-boiled); chopped vegetables if stored in an airtight container: 7 days Soft cheese, opened: 2 weeks Hard cheese, opened: 5 weeks
Freezing at 0°F or lower Soups and stews and cooked beans stay well for 2 – 3 months. Cooked or ground meat and poultry are safe till 3 – 5months. Berries and any chopped fruit stored in a freezer bag good for 6 -7 months
Whether you meal prep to lose weight or want fresh and healthy meal ready in hand, these guidelines are sure to save your efforts.
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