How to Avoid Food Prep Disasters: Reheating, Spoiling, Greens, & Dishes

How to Avoid Food Prep Disasters: Reheating, Spoiling, Greens, & Dishes

Chances are if you have Googled, looked on Pinterest, or searched Instagram for the words "meal prep" you probably find yourself buried by images like this: 

Meal prep seems to be entirely made up of perfectly portioned, beautifully arrayed, lovely food that you eat for the entire week.  How convenient!  One day of cooking for a week of eating, hell yes!  I will admit that making one monster batch of food once-a-week is an amazing benefit to meal prep.  But, there are things these perfectly portioned displays don't delve in to.  No need to fear!  I will take you through the common pitfalls of meal prepping and ways I've found to overcome or avoid them. 

Perfectly cooked meals that are reheated disasters 

I have made beautiful meals, packaged them up and reheated them at a later date only to find my food was cooked to death.  There is nothing worse, in my opinion than getting a mouthful of meat or fish that is so overcooked and dried out you long for the Griswold's Christmas turkey.  

How to avoid this: 

Prepare your food so it is SLIGHTLY under where you really want to eat it.  Leaving it just shy of being done, will make the reheated foods consistency, texture, and taste more of what you wanted it to be! Caution - Do NOT undercook chicken or other foods that are temperature sensitive. Instead, use a thermometer to accurately check the internal temperature.


Prepared fruit and vegetables that start to spoil

The truth is prepared vegetables, aside from baby carrots, and pre-cleaned fruit will cost you an arm and a leg at the grocery store.  So many people opt to prepare it all at once in order to have a weeks work of fresh fruit and veggies available.  I do this as well.  However, often times things start breaking down and by about 3 days in, you're tempted to throw out all that money and hard work.

How to avoid this: 

Make storage choices that make sense for what you are storing.  For example, berries tend to rot when not properly towel dried before storage.  Line the bottom of your container with paper towels for storing whole berries.  For strawberries, I suggest storing them whole and cut them up before consuming.  You'll get longer shelf life from them.   

Keep ingredients separated before packing them in lunches.  If you want cucumbers and baby carrots, I wouldn’t suggest packing them in the same container as they have two very different moisture levels.  Instead, pack them in separate portion containers or pack them in larger containers and portion them up together the day they will be consumed. 

The greens giving you the blues

Vegetables tend to give us the most headaches when meal prepping.  You get tired of eating the same thing.  Salads can only last for so long once they're prepped.  Raw veggies make some people gag.  They can also be the trickiest to prep and reheat and still be good. Often veggies end up tossed out, along with the money used to purchase them.

How to avoid this:

Don’t eat what you don’t like.  If you know you don’t like asparagus, don’t make it. Forcing yourself to eat food you don’t find appealing will only increase its chances of heading for the trash can.  Roast vegetables for reheating. I have found this to be the way that reheats the best and is the most pleasing as far as texture.  If you like raw vegetables, plan to do 2 rounds; one Sunday, one Wednesday, so they stay fresh and palatable.

All of the dishes!

If you refuse to meal prep because of all the dishes, I validate those feelings.

How to avoid this:

Invest in disposable foil pans.  Use the same pan to cook your meat, then your weeks veggies (mmmm).  This will save money on using less pans, makes less waste, and NO CLEAN UP! Please recycle... :-) 

Meal prep is a beneficial habit that saves hours of time during the week, and ultimately, money.  By not eating out, or making nightly trips to the grocery store, your bank account will thank you for choosing to meal prep.

- Smalls


Rachel "Smalls" Gifford