When you’ve spent precious time on meal prepping, the last thing you want is for it to go to waste because it wasn’t stored in the best way.
But that’s not all you need to worry about when it comes to meal prep safety. Storing your meals in the “wrong” way can open the door to bacteria build up ...scary stuff!
How you store your prepped meals is obviously super important and it’s something you’ll want to nail early on in your food prep journey.
With that in mind, let’s talk about some of the containers and storage solutions that will make meal prepping a breeze and help to keep your food fresh and safe until you’re ready to eat it.
Glass prep containers
For the most part, glass prep containers can be heated in the microwave and most are dishwasher safe. This makes them super convenient for heating up meals and leftovers and getting them clean afterwards. They’re also free from BPA, a chemical commonly found in plastic that is known to be a hormone disruptor.
Glass containers tend to be a bit more expensive but they can be well worth the extra expense, especially if you’re super committed to meal prepping. Compared to plastic containers, they tend to be more air tight and are less likely to let in moisture or allow bacteria to form as a result.
Container sets can be super helpful as they’ll often come in a range of sizes and shapes, which can help you to cover lots of different bases when you’re meal prepping. You can also choose smaller glass prep containers that are designed with individual portions in mind. Perfect if you’re not cooking the same meal for everyone.
As well as the usual Tupperware style containers, you can also find glass prep containers that have multiple compartments, which is great if you’re prepping a main meal and a side dish or two at once.
Mason jars are another great part of your meal prep kit. They’re perfect for a whole heap of uses - from storing everything from pre prepared salads (especially for layering up salads and avoiding the dreaded super soggy lettuce!) to overnight oats, granola and other prepped breakfasts. Or you can also use them to keep smoothies, sauces, soups and dressings. They’re hugely versatile and can be super handy for storing lots of different aspects of your meal prepping.
Need to keep everything separate and organized? Bento boxes can be a great way to organize prepped lunches, especially if you’re taking them out and about.
You can easily freeze meals in foil containers and often, you’ll be good to heat them up in them too. This makes them a super convenient and hugely versatile part of your meal prep storage options.
Store prepped veggies, portioned meats and the like in freezer bags to make things super simple. Once you’ve prepped the veggies you’ll need for one meal or split your meat into the right portions, just pop it into a freezer bag and keep in the freezer or refrigerator.
One of the best things about them? They massively cut down on freezer or fridge space so you’re making even better use of both.
Other meal prep storage tips
Before you put your prepped meals away, let them cool down to room temperature before they’re covered and stored. This stops stream from collecting inside the containers, which can otherwise leave you with mushy veggies or dry meat. Extra moisture in your containers can make a great breeding ground for bacteria too. Not a nice thought!
Ideally, the temperature in your refrigerator won’t exceed 40F. If it goes any higher than this, there’s more chance of problems.
Where to store prepped meals
Unless you can really help it, try not to store your prepped meals in the door of your refrigerator. The temperature can fluctuate a lot in this part of your refrigerator as it’s the bit that’s most exposed to cooler air every time the door is opened.
How long to store things for?
Most of the time, you can store for around 3-4 days in the refrigerator, especially if you’re using glass containers. Sometimes, you can get away with longer than that but to be on the safe side, stick to prepping a maximum of 4 days ahead for meals that will stay in the refrigerator.
In the freezer, you’ve got a lot more time to play with. Most things will be good for around 3 months, sometimes longer. When you come to defrost frozen items, it can be better to let them thaw out in the refrigerator overnight.
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