Save time and stress – start meal prepping! Find out how to plan, prepare, and preserve healthy meals for yourself (and your family). Whether you're an experienced prep-chef or just starting to plan your meals, we have the best tips for you!
Meal prepping saves time and stress. No more rushing to the kitchen when you get out of work because you know you'll have a meal ready in a few minutes. It is healthy too! If you have something easy in the fridge or freezer, you are less tempted to grab fatty and salty fast food when you do not feel like cooking. Hard? Not with our tips! You’ll be meal prepping like a pro.
1 Determine your most stressful meal
If you're just starting with meal prepping, start by planning and cooking just one meal, or the meals for one full day. Plan around your life: Which meals are the most important? Maybe dinner on the day you go to the gym, or your breakfast on that hectic Monday – which meal or snack is causing you the most stress?
2 Choose an approach that suits you
You can prepare, refrigerate, or freeze a complete breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Think oatmeal, soups, pasta sauce, sandwiches, stews, or mashes. But you don't have to – cooking a mountain of rice, chopping a bunch of vegetables or pre-frying meat for two days also saves you a lot of time. Another option could be cooking a meal and making double the amount, so you can eat it for two days in a row. And how about preparing portions of snacks?
3 Pick a day to cook
Once you’ve decided the above, then it’s time to choose the ‘when’. For most people, Saturday or Sunday are the best days for a relaxed cooking session, but of course it depends on your social life and lifestyle. Smart thing to do: start with recipes that you know, that saves you time preparing.
Getting started? Make sure you have the tools to get the most out of a cooking session. So, enough pots, pans, cutlery, cutting boards and trays or bags to store the things you've prepared.
Keep it cool
If you're going to prep meals, you're cooking ahead. And of course, you want to keep that food fresh until the day you will eat it. The fridge is fine, but if you want to keep your meals a little longer, the freezer is ideal. For flawless freezing, pay attention to these things.
Let food or meals cool for about two hours before putting them in the freezer. This is to prevent your freezer from heating up too much. To organize your freezer, write the contents, the number of people and the date on the tray of food. If you do that with waterproof marker on a sticky tape, you can both read it well and remove it if you freeze something else in the container. We know of people who arrange their freezer drawers in such a way that the things that need to be eaten first are always in the front – respect!
Let frozen products thaw in the refrigerator for 24 hours so that they defrost through and through, without the temperature getting too high. The higher the temperature, the more bacteria can grow. In addition, you help your refrigerator cooling, which saves energy – how cool is that?!
Freezing fruit is great for a quick breakfast. Some cool tips: freeze banana without skin and remove the core of apples and pears. Or peel fruit in advance and cut it into pieces. Freeze those and put them in your yogurt the night before. Put the bowl in the fridge, and it will all be ready to eat the next morning. Grapes and berries can be frozen whole.
Blanch vegetables before freezing them. Blanching means cooking for a short time in boiling water or steam (just a few minutes). Most vegetables, such as cauliflower, broccoli, red cabbage, beetroot, zucchini, and eggplant, can be frozen. Vegetables that contain a lot of water such as lettuce, tomatoes and cucumber are not suitable for freezing. They get really soggy when you defrost them. You can freeze sauces with those veggies in though.
Best Food for Meal Prepping
If you’re going to prep meals, make dishes with ingredients that you can freeze well and that are still tasty after defrosting. Soups and stews, for example, are ideal. Beware dishes with uncooked watery veggies like lettuce or spinach – they get limp in the freezer! Just like bell pepper, zucchini, mushrooms and cucumber. Wraps, boiled potatoes, dairy products, and noodles should also not be frozen. Most other things are good to go!
How long can I keep things in the freezer?
- Bread – 1 month
- Vegetables – 1 year
- Fruit – 8-12 months
- Fish – 3-6 months
- Chicken – 3 months
- Pork - 2 months
- Minced meat - 3 months
- Lamb - 3 months
- Beef - 9 months
- Rice and leftovers – 3 months
Love food, don't waste it.
Households cause 70% of the UK’s food waste every year, throwing away 6.6 million tonnes of food, of which 4.5 million tonnes was edible. A shame for the environment and your wallet. Meal prepping is a fantastic way to avoid food waste. Because food you use, you don't waste. But there are also some other ways to prevent food waste:
Don't cook too much
Weigh or measure food for preparation, so with a Brabantia scale, that handy Tasty+ Spaghetti spoon with portion hole or a nice storage jar with measuring cup. This way you don't cook (or eat) too much.
You can also do something for the planet while cooking. For example, place a nice Sort & Go container on your counter for organic waste – great for your compost heap.
Keep food fresh for longer
Keep your stock in sight and fresh for longer with Brabantia's smart storage containers. With a lid that closes tightly so that your food stays fresh longer. They either have a window or are completely transparent, so that you can see what you have at a glance.
Use the leftovers
Smart: store and use scraps whenever you can. Leftovers and not-so-fresh vegetables do well in soups and wok dishes. Or try roasting them! Pro-tip: put a special container in your freezer to store vegetable scraps in until you have enough to make a hearty vegetable soup.