Meal prep is something that is seriously a LIFE-SAVER! But who says you ONLY need to meal prep for a few days ahead? Why not MORE!? Freezing whole meals or individual ingredients is an AMAZING way to save money, time AND reduce your food waste in the kitchen.
Want to know the secrets to meal prepping with your freezer that your mother probably didn't tell you?
Here are my 8 BIGGEST tips that will absolutely turn you and your freezer into a meal prep machine!!
1. STOP BEING AFRAID OF YOUR FREEZER
The freezer is great to store excess ingredients and meals when you cook in bulk or have leftovers. This is a great time-saver for weeks where you’re not as prepared or things don’t go to plan, and helps to reduce waste. I love making extra burger patties, sauces, meatballs, marinated meats and freezing them to use later. You never know when you'll need to whip up something quick!!
2. PRE-PORTION BEFORE YOU FREEZE
I always freeze my meals in single or double portions. This way, you can pull out only what you need and minimise wastage. If you freeze in large batches, you have to thaw the entire batch, which makes it super difficult if you're just wanting a single serve for whatever you've frozen! Alternatively, if you freeze a sauce where you'll make multiple meals out of it, freeze in batch quantities that you would meal prep in.
3. LABEL AND DATE
Write what the meal is and the date that it was cooked on anything you put into the freezer. It’s the worst when you’re trying to work out what’s in the container and you defrost the wrong thing!
4. COVER WELL
Always cover or tightly wrap your food to make sure it doesn’t get freezer burn (the icy bits!). I freeze in reusable containers with an airtight lid or reusable freezer bags with a resealable zip.
Every month or so, do a check inside your freezer. This way you never freeze and forget! Rotate your freezer every so often and plan meals around what you already have. I can't tell you how many days I have not known what to cook, only to look in my freezer and instantly feel relieved!
6. KEEP TABS OF YOUR FREEZE-TIMES
Storage times of foods in the freezer differ, so make sure you keep on top of what’s in there. Each month, I like to go through my freezer and see what I’ve got and then plan meals around those ingredients. This system ensures nothing is pushed to the back and forgotten about.
|Raw Meat / Poultry
|4-6 months *
|Cooked Meat / Poultry
|3 months *
|1-2 months *
|1-2 months *
|Breads, Wraps, Pizza Bases
|Herbs In Oil, etc
* can be longer but I prefer to rotate quicker than this
7. THAW YOUR FOOD SAFELY
DON’T DEFROST ON THE COUNTER
Bacteria can grow in the ‘danger zone’ which is anything above 5 degrees up to 60 degrees Celsius (which includes room-temperature) so it’s best not to defrost your items on your counter-top. When you’re preparing a meal, try not to leave your meats on the bench for any longer than 2 hours (i.e. if you need to duck-out halfway, put the perishable items in the fridge before you leave).
THAW IN YOUR FRIDGE!
The safest way to defrost anything is in the fridge overnight. Alternatively, you can defrost in the microwave on the defrost setting. However, this can quickly bring meat into the ‘danger zone’, so if you’re going to do this, cook the meat immediately once you’ve thawed it.
8. KNOW HOW TO REHEAT
When it comes to reheating food, the general rule of thumb is to reheat in the same way it was originally cooked. For example, reheating a pizza in the oven (where it was originally made) will have a better texture, compared to heating in a microwave which will make it soggy.
If you only have a microwave, the way you reheat is still important. If you’re heating more than 1 type of food, i.e. rice, vegetables and meat, then consider staggering the heating process. Meat will take longer to heat than rice, so you’ll need to put this in first, followed with vegetables and grains, so everything is ready at the same time.
It’s a good idea to spread everything out on the plate to ensure even heating. You may also want to cover food with a damp tea towel or a microwave food cover to create steam. This will help prevent your food from drying out.
So there you have it! How to meal prep like a BOSS, become best pals with your freezer and absolutely smash through your BARE Lean week with confidence.
I hope you're all as excited as I am to head into another beautiful week, with your freezers now as stocked up as mine!!