Make-Ahead Meals: Food Safety Awareness
Meal prepping is essential to save time and eliminate stress from your busy week! Many of our clients find it helpful to set aside one to two days in the week to cook and prepare meals for the rest of the week.
Meal prepping can be super overwhelming. Our dietitians can help you with meal planning and build your confidence in doing it on your own!
Food safety becomes even more important when you are cooking ahead since you are not necessarily eating the meals the day that you make them. See below to learn about refrigerator “shelf-life” of each food that you’re preparing to ensure food safety.
TIPS FOR MEAL PREP FOOD SAFETY:
- Use separate knives, cutting boards, and equipment.
Don’t use the same knife to cut vegetables that you previously used to cut raw meat! Cross-contamination occurs when bacteria from one food is spread to another through the use of the same cooking equipment. Be sure to wash your cooking utensils thoroughly before cutting new ingredients.
- Know the shelf-life of each food.
Some foods last longer than others in the refrigerator and it’s important to have this information before meal prepping so you are able to cook for the right amount of days.
- Label your dishes with dates
Write the date that you prepared the meal and how long it will stay safe to eat on the container after cooking. This is especially helpful for frozen dishes that can be stored for several weeks. It will prevent the mystery of defrosting something that you aren’t quite sure what it is!
- Cook food thoroughly and to the appropriate temperature
Cook food to the appropriate temperature (especially meat!!) to prevent bacteria growth and food-borne illnesses. Invest in a kitchen thermometer to make it easy.
- Beef, pork, veal, and lamb roasts, steaks, and chops: 145° F
- Ground beef, veal, lamb, and pork:160° F
- All poultry: 165° F
Thaw frozen food properly
Thaw frozen meat and seafood, such as shrimp, poultry, steak properly. Frozen meats should be thawed overnight in the refrigerator. If improperly thawed, meat can grow bacteria that can make you sick!
Check out some of our favorite meals below and how to safely enjoy them!
Chicken is the meat that needs to be cooked to the highest temperature to avoid food-born sickness. One of our favorites is this “One Pan Chicken Ranch” that can be prepared to feed you for up to four days!
Prepping breakfast ahead saves time on hectic mornings! These egg muffins stay safe in the fridge for up to four days and are a great way to sneak in veggies with your breakfast. Pop them in the microwave for 20 seconds and you’re ready to go!
MEAL 3: Grilled Vegetable Lasagna
Grilled vegetable lasagna freezes and defrosts well for up to two months. By keeping this in your freezer, you’ll always have a backup meal on busy nights or when you just don’t feel like cooking!
Looking for more recipes ideas and how to meal plan for you and your family? Reach out to us at 301-474-2499 or at firstname.lastname@example.org to set up an appointment with one of our Registered Dietitians!
Contribution to this blog by Ivy Devadas, dietetic intern.
Whether you are a novice in the kitchen, or a seasoned chef, Dietitian Klara will work with you to help you reach your nutrition goals. Co-author of Nourished: 10 Ingredients to Happy, Healthy Eating, Cooking with Diabetes and Cooking with Food Sensitivities Guide.