How to meal prep and keep your meals fresh in the fridge!
Meal prep is not just the practice of pre-cooking meals for one or more days, it's a way of life for many of us. It allows us to manage our diet in an effective, cost-saving and healthy way so we can build better routines and keep track of our calories.
Stick to these rules!
- Always plan ahead! Prepare a weekly plan and shopping list. Create a routine and each Sunday or Wednesday meal-prep for the next 3-4 days.
- Invest in quality airtight containers and glass jars for easy storage.
- Find and select recipes in advance: This means you get to sit down and actually think about what meals you want and choose them for their nutritional value. Don't forget to also rotate meals to keep things interesting.
- Don't forget to label meals for easy identification.
- Choose meals that can last several days in the fridge or freezer and don't go bad.
- Choose foods that can be easily reheated and do not quickly spoil.
Best meal ideas for meal-prepping? We got you!
A breakfast favorite, overnight oats can last three to four days in the fridge. Keep things fresh by adding fruit just before digging in to avoid mushiness. There are so many variants to try! For example, cinnamon apple oatmeal, greek yogurt banana oatmeal or peanut butter baked oatmeal.
Quick Recipes for 3-4 Portions: Cinnamon Apple Oatmeal and and Peanut Butter Baked Oatmeal.
1. Cinnamon Apple Oatmeal:
- 1.5 cups of oats
- 3 cups water or milk of choice
- 2 medium-sized apples, diced
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup or honey
- A pinch of salt
Optional toppings: chopped nuts, raisins, a drizzle of additional honey
In a saucepan, combine rolled oats, water or milk, diced apples, ground cinnamon, and a pinch of salt. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat, then reduce to a simmer. Cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the oats are creamy and the apples are tender. Stir in maple syrup or honey.
2. Peanut Butter Baked Oatmeal:
- 2.25 cups rolled oats
- 1.5 teaspoons baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1.5 cups milk of choice
- 3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
- 3 tablespoons honey or maple syrup
- 1 large egg
- 1.5 teaspoons vanilla extract
Optional: sliced bananas, chopped peanuts, a drizzle of peanut butter
Preheat the oven to 175°C. Grease a baking dish. In a large bowl, mix rolled oats, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together milk, peanut butter, honey or maple syrup, egg, and vanilla extract. Combine wet and dry ingredients, mixing well. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the top is golden brown and the center is set. Allow it to cool for a few minutes before slicing. Serve warm, and optionally, top with sliced bananas, chopped peanuts, and a drizzle of peanut butter.
Pasta meal preps can be most versatile. Beware of potential dryness - adding extra sauce before reheating or more sauce during the initial cooking can help. Try this recipe for Super-Quick Spinach Gnocchi with Cheese Sauce.
Also very versatile and often freezer-friendly. Microwaving even improves the rice texture.
Our tip: High Protein Greek Lemon Chicken and Rice Meal Prep (Servings: 5)
For the Greek Lemon Chicken:
- 600g raw chicken breast, sliced and diced
- Juice of 2 lemons
- 2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
- 1 tbsp minced garlic
- 1 tbsp dried oregano
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 100ml chicken stock
- 90g low-fat cream cheese
For the Rice:
- 2 cups uncooked rice (your choice, such as brown or basmati)
- 4 cups water (for cooking rice)
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp salt
Greek Lemon Chicken: In a bowl, combine the sliced and diced chicken breast with lemon juice, chopped parsley, minced garlic, dried oregano, and olive oil. Mix well. Heat a large skillet over high heat and add the marinated chicken mixture. Cook for about 10 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. Pour in the chicken stock, add more lemon juice, dried oregano, and low-fat cream cheese. Stir well and let it simmer for a few minutes. Finish with chopped parsley and set aside.
Rice: Rinse the rice under cold water until the water runs clear. In a pot, bring 4 cups of water to a boil. Add the rinsed rice, olive oil, and salt. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for the recommended time on the rice package (usually around 15 minutes). Fluff the cooked rice with a fork.
Divide into meal prep containers: Divide the cooked rice into equal portions and place it in meal prep containers. Top each portion of rice with the Greek Lemon Chicken.
How long can you leave your prepped meals in the fridge?
Meal prepping can be a game-changer, but people are often unsure of how long meals last in the fridge. From safety concerns to taste issues, there's a lot to consider. The storage time for cooked meals in the fridge can vary depending on the type of food and how it is stored. The golden number to remember is 4. Most meals stay safe and tasty for up to four days in the fridge.
Best meals to meal-prep due to their longevity?
- Meat: Cooked meat and poultry can generally be stored in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.
- Fish: Cooked fish is best consumed within 1-2 days.
- Vegetables: Cooked vegetables can be stored for 3-4 days.
- Rice and Pasta: Cooked rice and pasta can be stored for 3-4 days, but it's important to handle them with care to prevent the growth of bacteria. Cool them quickly after cooking and store them in shallow containers.
It's important to note that these are general guidelines, and if the food shows signs of odor, unusual color, or slimy texture, it should be discarded. Store the meals in airtight containers and maintain a refrigerator temperature of 4°C or below.