Here at mealprep.com.au we’re all about the #mealpreplife (obviously). It’s a great way to save time and money and keep you on track with your health and fitness goals. The greatest challenge with meal prep is that if you don’t store your meals in the right way, it’ll end up going bad quickly and you’ll have wasted all your efforts (and money).
Fear not, we’ve got all the tips and tricks right here to help you store your meal prep dishes properly to keep them fresh and safe throughout the week.
The Best Containers for Meal Prep Storage
Step one in storing your meal prep dishes properly is using the right equipment, and the most important item is your meal prep containers. We have a great buying guide you can read here.
But in case you just want a quick break-down, here it is. The two most popular types of meal prep containers are plastic containers and glass containers. Overall, we recommend choosing glass containers as they’re often freezer/washer/microwave safe and help keep the food fresh for a longer duration.
Here are some popular types of meal prep containers and what they’re good for storing:
- Glass containers: Ideal for storing almost anything. Try to buy a set that includes a variety of sizes and you’ll always have just the right container. Glass lets you store, reheat in the microwave, and eat right out of the same container.
- Plastic containers: Plastic containers are popular and can be found in most major supermarkets like Coles, Woolworths, as well as online through Amazon. You can find plastic containers that are microwave-friendly, freezer-safe, and dishwasher-safe. Try to go for the leak-proof and airtight options too.
- Silicone containers: These can often go in the oven and the microwave safely. Some come with vented lids for reheating.
- Washable bags: Great for reusing and storing things like salad greens and chopped veg.
- Bento boxes: This is a great container for packed lunches allowing you to put different foods into the separate sections.
- Mason jars: These are versatile and affordable, and ideal for layered jar salads, yogurt and overnight oats.
7 Meal Prep Storage Hacks
1. Make Sure Your Fridge/Freezer Is at the Right Temp
Your fridge and freezer temperature is one of the most important factors when it comes to properly storing your meal prep dishes.
Keeping a constant temperature at 4°C is ideal for your refrigerator, keeping food fresher for longer and stopping the growth of bacteria.
.Most foods are safe to reheat for up to 4 days when kept in the refrigerator at the ideal temperature.
Your freezer should be kept at -18°C and if you’re chucking food in the freezer, it needs to go in straight away and not be left out at room temperature for too long. Freezing meal prep is a great way to extend its shelf life.
2. Organise Your Fridge
Meal prep success starts with an organised fridge. Try to eat all the food in your fridge before stocking it up with new meals as the more food in your fridge, the more quickly food can spoil. Read our tips on how to keep food fresher for longer here.
3. Store Salads & Soups in Mason Jars
Salads and soups are great meal prep options – they’re both healthy and versatile. The best way to store both these meals is in a glass mason jar. Glass helps prevent bacteria from forming, keeping food fresher for longer, while mason jason is easy to transport for on-the-go meals.
4. Defrost Frozen Meals in the Fridge
Did you know bacteria begins multiplying as soon as food goes above 4°C? That’s why you should thaw frozen food in the fridge. Instead of on the counter. However, this does take more time to do so you’ll need to plan ahead to make sure it’s defrosted in time.
5. Store Dry Foods in Airtight Containers
When storing dry food like pasta, rice, lentils, chickpeas, flour, chia seeds and so on, always opt for airtight containers once they’ve been opened. If you keep them in their original packaging, even if tied up with a rubber band, it’s easy for insects and other contaminants to get into your food. Airtight containers will also help prevent air and moisture from entering your dry foods and helping it last longer.
6. Take Note of Shelf Life
The shelf life of food is one of the most important things to consider when meal prepping. While most foods stored in the fridge will be OK to be consumed within four days, after this time they’ll start losing their taste and will likely spoil (especially if stored improperly). If you’re unsure if you’ll be able to eat all the food in time, it’s always best to throw it right in the freezer, as meals in the freezer can last up to 4 months.
7. Check Use by and Best Before Dates
There are two types of dates on food, the use by and best before dates.
Use by: The use-by date is more important to pay attention to when it comes to food safety. You must consume this product before the use-by date. This is often on dairy, meat and fresh food products.
Best before: Best before dates are less about food safety and more about food quality. Best before dates are often on products like frozen foods, dried foods, and canned food.
Best Foods for Meal Prep Storage
Almost any type of food can be used for meal prep, but there are certainly some that store better than others. Below are some of the best foods for meal prep storage:
- Grains: Rice, pasta, bread (frozen), and other grains stay fresh for a long time.
- Meat: Meat is great for meal prepping and will last for about 3 days cooked in the fridge, or 3-4 months raw or cooked in the freezer.
- Vegetables: Veggies are easy to prepare far in advance and if you store them correctly, will last a decent time until you use them.
- Whole fruits: Fruits like apples and bananas stay fresh in the fridge for a few days.
- Nuts: Nuts can also stay fresh in your refrigerator or pantry for ages, as long as they’re stored in air-tight containers.
Meal Prep Storing Yes’s and No-No’s
|Meal Prep Yes’s||Meal Prep No-No’s|
Why is Proper Meal Prep Storage Important?
Not only does proper meal prep storage make your meals last longer, it also prevents food waste and stops you from ingesting potentially spoiled food. Bacteria like E-coli or salmonella can contaminate many types of foods, from raw meats right up to fresh vegetables, so keeping these products fresh and stored correctly goes a long way in keeping you safe and healthy.
Properly stored meal prep dishes also means the quality and flavour will remain intact for longer – and you deserve to have your meals taste good!
Keep Reading Meal Prepping Tips:
- How to plan meals in advance
- How to create a grocery list
- How to incorporate variety into your meals