Meal Prep and Storage
In the past two weeks, we’ve discussed meal planning and have begun talking about the prep work. This week we’ll continue our discussion of meal prep and storage, and I’ll share ideas for making your life easier when it comes to magically producing a meal on the table.
Containers to use
When you are prepping meals, you want to be mindful of the types of containers you use. These containers are not just storing the ingredients and cooked food items, but are meant to keep the food fresh in the refrigerator or freezer for an extended period of time. You need to be careful what you choose to store items in and how they are stored. Here are some recommendations for food storage containers:
Choose containers with airtight lids.
Make sure that your containers keep the food fresh with airtight lids. If you intend to use Tupperware-type containers, try filling them with water, then turn them upside down and make sure no water leaks out. This is a good way to tell how fresh your food will be in the containers.
Try storing items in mason jars.
Mason jars are perfect for storing certain items and meals. For example, if you like to take salad to work, try putting each day’s salad in a separate container. Choose the wide-mouth containers and add the denser items at the bottom. The greens should always be at the top so they don’t get wilted or weighed down. It’s best to keep your salad dressing in a separate container.
Be careful with plastic storage items.
Plastic is fine to use, but you should know what type of plastic you are using. Make sure it is refrigerator, freezer, microwave, and dishwasher-safe. Also, check to be sure any plastic type containers are BPA free. BPA is a hormone disruptor, and it’s in your best interest to avoid it. An additional note is to check any canned goods to confirm they say BPA free as well. BPA is often used in the lining of the can.
Consider casserole dishes that work for baking and storage.
When you are actually cooking bigger meals ahead of time to be reheated in the evening, it’s more efficient if you use multi-purpose casserole dishes. Use glass dishes that you use for baking, but that can also be used for storing in the freezer. Just make sure you leave them out at room temperature after cooking long enough to cool down before freezing them, or they might crack.
Tips for meal prepping
As you get started with meal prepping, there are some other things you need to keep in mind. Follow these simple tips for prepping your meals after you are done with meal planning:
- Cook all your meat at once.
- Label every container with the date it was prepared.
- Use ingredients that can be prepped for multiple meals.
- Get freezer bags together with ingredients that will go in the slow cooker.
Meal Ideas for prepping
Here are some different meal ideas that work perfectly with meal planning and meal prepping.
Put together different overnight oatmeal jars.
To get some healthy breakfasts prepared, add overnight oats to multiple jars, one for each day of the week. In addition to the oats, you can add different toppings for each day. Some toppings to consider include cinnamon, slivered almonds or other nuts, dried fruit, berries or fresh fruit, raisins, and granola.
Roast your vegetables beforehand.
To get vegetables ready for lunches and dinners throughout the week, spend one day roasting all the vegetables at one time. Choose vegetables with about the same cooking time, roast them together, then place in containers and freeze them.
Use a vegetable spiralizer instead of pasta.
To make healthy, low-carb meals and meal prep at the same time, consider using a vegetable spiralizer. This takes vegetables like zucchini and squash and creates pasta out of them. Spiralize your veggies on a Sunday, then save them for the week’s ‘pasta’ meals.
Bake all of your meat; then freeze portions for each meal.
Decide what meat you want to use for multiple meals, then bake or cook it all at the same time. Do this in the oven or your slow cooker. Meat like chicken breasts, fish filets, and strips of steak work really well for this.
Keep salad veggies and toppings in one container.
For your salads, you can make it faster to put them together by having all of the greens and vegetables chopped and sliced and in containers. Keep all your greens in one big container, and all the chopped veggies and other toppings in another container.
With these tips, you’ll be on your way to both successful meal planning and meal prepping. This will save you a lot of time, not to mention help you make healthier meals for you and your family when you put meal planning, meal prep and storage into practice.
I’m Cheryl A Major; how may I serve you in your quest for optimal mental and physical health?
Cheryl A Major
Cheryl A Major lives in Westford and is a Certified Nutrition and Wellness Consultant. Her TV show, Thin Strong Healthy, airs on WestfordCat and is an offshoot of her blog http://ThinStrongHealthy.com Cheryl offers ongoing information, live and online courses and personal health coaching to help you feel better and be healthier. Follow Cheryl on Twitter @CherylAMajor. She is also a full time residential Realtor with Coldwell Banker with more than 25 years experience.
Cheryl’s book, Eat Your Blues Away is available now on Amazon and this January in Whole Foods Markets. She is busy writing her next book, The Major Method!