When we want to prepare our own meals we need to decide what food can last longest, and what meals are best for meal prep. Depending on what you like to eat and what you know and want to make, you can choose the food that is appropriate for you.
The most common problem is that we are sometimes unsure about how long meals can last in the fridge. We don`t want them to go bad, and we need to know when is certain food going bad. But, it happens that is safe to eat but not very tasty, and the worst part is when you need to throw the food away.
These are all valid concerns about meal prepping. In this text, we will mention what meals are best for meal prep and how long different types of meals can stay in the fridge or freezer.
How to start and how many meals a day should you prep
If you are new to meal prepping, you might find it confusing at the beginning. But, don`t worry, once you get a hold of it, you will see that it will save you a lot of time, and money and that is healthy.
First, when you decide to start, make sure that you have enough food containers. You can use reusable plastic or glass containers. The best kind is inexpensive, lightweight, and can hold plenty of food. You may find them online or in grocery stores.
Secondly, you don`t need to cook meals for the whole week. Start small, and make meals for 2 or 3 days at first. That way you will cook only a few times a week, instead of every day. The main focus should be on creating fun, delicious, nutritious and balanced meals.
After a while, figure out your meal prep schedule. If you have time or want diversity, cook 2 or 3 times a week and prepare 3, or 4 different meals. If you want to save time, and you don`t mind eating similar meals throught the week, you can cook once or twice a week, and prepare as many meals as you wish.
Further, you can make meals for three to four days. For example, if you are using seafood make meals for 3 days, if you are using beef or chicken, 4 days or even more. Food doesn`t get soggy if you keep sauces on the side and add them before you eat.
Lastly, there is no right amount of meals that you should make a day or week. Find the right schedule and number of meals for you and your own needs. You will have a well-rounded, healthy diet that has all the important nutrients. Your body will thank you.
What meals are good for meal prepping
Starting meal prepping includes making meal plans first. You need to decide what food you like to eat and what to make. Additionally, you need to choose food that can stay some time in the fridge, or food that you can freeze.
Prepared meals can stay in the refrigerator for up to four days. If you are not sure that you can eat your meals within four days, you should freeze them. When they are frozen they are safer for a longer time.
As long as you cook your meals properly they will be safe to eat even within seven days. However, after the fifth day, they might not be as tasty.
Meals that include chicken are great for meal prep because they last up to four to five days in the fridge after you have cooked them.
Bach cooking is a good idea, too. Prepare your ingredients, measure and chop them and your cooking will be easy. You can do that for overnight oats, pasta dishes, green salads, sheet pan meals, soup, chili, stew, rice and grain bowls, and as previously mentioned meals with chicken.
Here are some ideas for meals that you can prep and safely store in the fridge:
They last up to four days in the fridge but, you can usually eat them for five days. You will find them delicious after that time, too. These dishes can get a little dry because the pasta will soak up extra sauce overnight. But, don`t worry, just add more sauce before you reheat it, a few drops of water, or put more sauce than you would normally do when you cook it.
This is one of the best meal prep breakfasts. There are many ways to prep and store them. Add some fruit and you can store them in the fridge for 3 to 4 days. You can even stretch them to five days or eat them within two. It is up to you to decide. Leave the fruit on the side until you decide to eat them, then, mix them together.
Grain and rice bowls
These make great meal preps. You can leave them in your fridge for up to four days and they are usually freezer-friendly. The great thing about meal-prepping rice is that if there were any issues with cooking it, you can microwave it and fix them. For example, if rice is mushy microwaving will be a great solution to that.
Those are salads that have a base of kale, spinach, lettuce, or green leafy vegetables of any kind. They can be tricky to prep because there is a risk of getting soggy if you don`t prep them properly. The trick you can use is to keep the dressing, cucumbers, and tomatoes (because they are watery) on the side until you eat the meal. Most salads are good within 4 days.
Stews, soups, and chili
These are amazing meal prep because they last longer than most meals. They can last up to five or six days. Additionally, they are very freezer-friendly. If you are a beginner to meal prepping and not sure how food will taste after a few days, you should start with stew, soup, or chili.
Sheet pan meals
These meals are easy to prep. But, the tricky part can be keeping the texture of what you cook. You should not expect potatoes to stay crispy unless you reheat them in the oven, air fryer, or toaster oven. They can last in the fridge for up to four days, but they are not freezer-friendly.
Another delicious and easy meal prep options are baked goods. Muffins and bread can stay for a few days on the counter or up to one week in the fridge. Freezing is also fine.
These dishes can last up to four days in the fridge and up to three months in the freezer. Start with a base of rice, corn, black beans, and cooked meat. Store toppings like salsa, guacamole, hot sauce, and sour cream on the side.
These meals will give you variety and help you start your meal prepping. If you are unsure how long a meal can last, think four days. For instance, if you cook on Sunday, eat your meal by Thursday and it will still be safe and tasty.
Additionally, we will provide a list of food that you can or can`t keep in the freezer. That way you can organize your meal prepping even better.
What food can you freeze?
Freezing food can help you save money. You can buy foods on sale and then save them for later. Most foods will freeze well. But, there are some that you need to prepare before you place them in the freezer.
Foods that you can freeze:
- Cottage cheese
- Raw egg whites
- Ice cream
- Whole eggs
- Whipped cream
Seafood, meat, poultry:
- Lunch meat
- Wild meat
- Brussels sprouts
Produce that can be in the freezer, but only in certain circumstances:
- Garlic, only in oil
- Cabbage can be soggy but you can use it in cooked dishes
- Celery, only to use it in cooked dishes
- Herbs, you can freeze them in water or oil and use them in dressings or cooked dishes
- Peled, overripe bananas
Produce that you can freeze in syrup packs:
- Citrus fruits
Nuts, grains, and seeds:
- Flours high in oil content
- Nuts, and nut flour
- Banana bread
- Fruit cake
- Yeast bread
Batters, pastries, and uncooked doughs:
- Uncooked pizza dough
- Cookie dough
- Pie shells
- Yeast dough
- Cake batter
- Pesto sauce
Food that you should not freeze:
- Cooked egg whites
- Deserts with meringue
- Cream-based soups and sauces
- Frostings or icing that has raw egg whites
- Fried foods
- Fully cooked rice
- Fully cooked pasta
- Hard-boiled eggs
- Mayonnaise and mayo-based salads
- Sour cream
- Lettuce and other leafy greens
- Non-fatty fish
Make sure that the food you want to freeze is completely cool before you put it in the freezer. If you want to freeze bread, make sure that you wrap it. It tastes great when you reheat it in the oven. You should debone and chop turkey or chicken. Also, ground beef should be in freeze-in-cup portions for easy use later.
All food must be properly placed in the wrapper because it will not be exposed to oxygen, which can change its appearance and taste, and it can be dry. Additionally, it can absorb other odors from the freezer.
Your freezer is an extension of your pantry and fridge. Make the most of that space and get a headstart when you have unexpected guests or don`t have time for cooking. Food in the freezer can come in handy if you have to postpone your meal prep day.
Prepping meals ahead can be a great game-changer. Additionally, you will not feel stressed about your next meal because you will know that you are eating nutritious, healthy, and delicious food. Start slow and keep expanding your menu. Therefore, you will soon see all the benefits that this can bring.
There are many ways to do your meal prep. You are the one who is deciding how many meals you want to make, how often, what food to choose, etc. That said, it all depends on your schedule, goals, and meal preferences. You can make full meals, large batches that you can freeze, or separate portions that you can combine as you wish.
Your meal prep plan will help you with your routine and needs. Variety is essential in providing your body with minerals, nutrients, vitamins, and all the beneficial things you need. For anything else that you need, we are here to help you with answers, advice, and ideas.