March 2, 2018
by
in Lifestyle

The whole point of meal prep is to reduce the amount of time spent preparing food while creating healthy alternatives to the modern food cycles. However, this would be futile if the food was not stored properly.

We all know the basics of not leaving food out and whatnot but meal prep contains foods that are easily perishable and others that can stay for a while. It is critical that you know exactly how to store the food properly. Generally, cooked meals can last up to four days if well stored.

I thought it would be better to write something to give you a few tips on how to properly store your prepped food. There are several checkpoints when it comes to storage.

Smart washing

Washing of most products under a stream of cool tap water is common knowledge for almost anyone in the kitchen. It helps rid you of the dirt and germs that come with most unprocessed products.

It is misunderstood that products with inedible peels do not require washing. The American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics released a paper saying that the dirt and bacteria on these peels can travel to the inside as it is cut or peeled. Therefore, wash all of them.

A common mistake made by most cooks, even top-notch chefs is the washing of raw chicken and fish.  This is wrong as it increases cross-examination. This is the spreading of germs to other foods, utensils and surfaces through splashing of the water. Words like salmonella are very common in relation to food poisoning.  The only way to rid yourself of the germs is by proper cooking of the meats.

Also, remember it is wiser to use paper towels for drying since they can be discarded after one use. Cotton towels can retain bacteria.

Refrigeration

There are several main points about storage that include:

  • Perishables should not stand at room temperature for more than two hours.
  • Freshly cooked food should be left to cool so as not to bring down the refrigerator temperature.
  • Raw meats should be kept on the lowest shelf so that the juices cannot drip onto other foods
  • The refrigerator should be between 2-5 degrees Celsius. Anything above that is a breeding ground for bacteria. It should also be kept clean.
  • Use the drawers in some refrigerators that usually show where meats, fruits and vegetables should be kept.
  • Do not let food sit out. There are some foods such as rice that become contaminated easily through its pores.
  • Do not store fruits and vegetables in the same place since fruits produce a chemical known as ethylene that helps things ripen faster and would ruin vegetables. Also, bananas should not be stored with other fruits. One bad apple ruins the batch right?

Containers

You can either wrap your products or store them in containers. For wrapping, aluminium foil and plastic resalable bags are mostly used.

Open dishes usually lead to refrigerator odours, dry out the food, cause loss of nutrients and mould growth.

When looking for a good container, there are several things that you should put into consideration:

  • Temperature safety – you should ensure the container can withstand both hot and cold temperature
  • Freshness – it is important that the container should be able to keep your food fresh for as long as possible.
  • Clean-up – still looking for a way to save time, the container should be easy to clean leaving no residues or ways for bacteria to multiply.
  • Purpose – if the container is just for storage, for carrying or for heating the food should also be put into consideration.
  • Easy on the wallet – obviously this always comes into consideration.

There are two types of containers, plastic and glass containers.

Plastic

Plastic containers are cheaper to buy and lighter to carry. However, if you want to reheat your food in the container you stored it in, admittedly, these might not be the way to go. Plastics contain chemicals that can change the taste of food and have been linked to chronic diseases such as asthma, cancer or autism.

Plastics can also absorb the juices after a long while making them soggy. They are also not environmentally friendly due to being unrecyclable.

Glass

Glass containers are oven safe, freezer safe, microwave safe, have leak-proof lids for the longer freshness of up to two weeks continuously, BPA-free, dishwasher safe, stain resistant, odour resistant, green friendly and multifunctional (in case you like serving the food in the containers).

There are some glass prep manufacturers who have a lifetime warranty on lids such as Snapware.

Labelling

As stated in our 40 tips for Meal Prep, labelling of containers makes things more organised and easy to locate. Labelling the container by the date of the packaging and the contents helps you to keep track of what is in your refrigerator and its due date.

Read the packaging

Most product packages usually have instructions on how to best store its contents. This will give you a nudge in the right direction.

This will also help when knowing the sell-by dates of bread and meats. It is advisable to buy these products with the sell by dates far off in the future.

Freezing

When done correctly, freezing can help reduce the amount of time spent on meal prep. This works especially well with soups and crockpot related dishes.  It provides a high level of convenience. Unfortunately, this comes with its disadvantages. Freezing is likely to change the composition of food in terms of flavour and consistency.

Some foods like lettuce and gelatins diminish by a great measurable amount and are best left in the refrigerator.  It is more of a game of value of convenience or quality of the food.

Airtight high-quality containers will prevent freezer burn that renders food inedible. You can also wrap your container in a layer of freezer plastic wrap for added protection. The cooling source should not be blocked under any circumstances and the temperatures should be below 0 degrees Fahrenheit or 18 degrees Celsius.

I hope this is an eye-opener in terms of storage of prepped meal. I would not want you to waste time and money. Most of all, remember, trust your nose!

1 Comment on This Post

[…] You do not have the correct storage containers  […]

7 Common Mistakes to Avoid during Meal Prep | Chef Dine
April 8, 2018

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Hi, I’m Chef Jaime

I’m a personal chef that covers the whole of Melbourne. I take care of all your shopping, meal prep and cooking. Leaving you with a fridge of healthy meals.

I have a range of diets that I cook for, including:
Paleo
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Weight-Loss
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Failsafe and Fodmap.

With packages starting at just $180 its Melbourne’s most practical and affordable chef service.

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