How To Plan, Prep, And Store Food For Healthy Meals All Week
Most of us know the feeling of coming home after a long and exhausting day at work and being too tired to even open the fridge, let alone cook a decent meal. That being said, finding nothing than cold and bland leftovers of a meal you made two days ago is not much better. Planning your meals ahead can be one of the best gifts you could give yourself, as it can save you a lot of time, stress, and money you’d spend on takeout. With that in mind, here are a few suggestions that should help you plan and prepare tasty meals for the whole week.
Plan the Preparation
Preparing the food can take you two to three hours, depending on how many days you want to cover. The key to doing it successfully and easily is planning your day in advance. First, you should clean all the containers, prepare all the kitchenware, make sure you have all the necessary ingredients, etc. When you start actually cooking your meals, try to multitask as much as you can. For example, while you’re cooking one meal, you could slice the veggies for the next one. Of course, if you’re simply not good at it, don’t push yourself too far – not being able to keep an eye on everything could lead to more disasters than one. After all, practice makes perfect, so you’re bound to get much better at multitasking in time. Also, try to split your preparation process in a way that makes sense to you – you could prepare breakfasts first, then lunches, snacks, and dinners, or you could prepare meats, then veggies, and fruits.
Put Food in the Fridge Right Away
Once you prep your food, it’s extremely important to put it in the fridge within two hours (one hour if the room temperature is above 30°C). Letting it stay in the open for too long can lead to the development of harmful bacteria and eventually food poisoning. Also, the temperature of your fridge should be set to 5°C or lower in order to preserve the food properly and keep it fresh. Make sure there is plenty of room in the fridge so the air can circulate freely, and always cover your food thoroughly in order for it to stay fresh for longer.
Know how Long Food can Last
Different foods get spoiled after different periods of time, and you should know how long a certain type of food can last so you don’t accidentally poison yourself. For example, cooked meat is typically safe for 3 to 4 days, just like deli meats, rice, and pasta. Salads can usually last for about 4 to 5 days, same as soups and stews. Boiled eggs are good for about a week, and vegetables and fruits can last for a while too, depending on the type. They last longer if you don’t cut them, but if you do, don’t do it on the same chopping board that you use for cutting the meat.
Freeze Our Meals
If you want to prepare food for more than five days in advance, you might want to think about freezing some of your meals. The most important thing about freezing your meals is storing them properly, as you want to prevent food poisoning. With that in mind, you want to use high-quality, air-tight containers, preferably those made of glass. They are healthier, since plastic has been shown to release Bisphenol-A, which can be extremely harmful, and glass containers also make reheating much easier. If you still prefer plastic containers, make sure they are BPA free.
Know how to Reheat Properly
If you’re using glass containers, reheating your food in the microwave should not be a problem. Just keep in mind that glass can get hot, so don’t burn yourself when taking the food out. Moreover, don’t use any plastic wrap when reheating, and try to spread your food evenly in the container. You can leave the lid of the container on, but not for too long – let it vent out so as to avoid any food explosions. The actually tricky part, though, is thawing your food before reheating it. Most people do it by simply leaving the frozen food on the counter, but this way, you’re also increasing the risk of bacterial contamination. The best and safest way to do it is to leave the food in the fridge overnight.
There are many benefits of preparing your meals in advance, from saving time to preserving your health by not buying unhealthy fast food just because you are too tired to prepare anything on your own. So, if you think this kind of organization could help you improve your lifestyle, follow the above-listed tips, and with some practice, you’ll be preparing healthy meals for the whole week in no time.
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