I have been trying meal preparation ahead of time, but I am running out of ideas. The new recipes I am looking into I am afraid will not last like the ones I already prepare. How long will the following last if I was to prep them?
- Egg White Omelet
- Grilled chicken
- Mashed or diced sweet potatoes
I freeze them now, but they don’t have the flavor they had when they were fresh. Any other suggestions in storing them?
You are wise to prepare meals ahead of time especially on days off for less cooking on work days. I would suggest cooking only what you plan to eat in the next work week and keeping those servings in the refrigerator rather than freezing which are the only 2 possibilities after food is cooked beside eating. Plan 1 day of leftovers which occurs because you can never predict how much of a meal people will eat even if you live alone.
Higher moisture foods like egg white omelet, asparagus and potatoes don’t freeze well. They may weep water lost from the food when defrosted. Besides asparagus takes 10 minutes or less in boiling water to cook. Mashed potatoes 20 minutes. So I would cook high water foods at the meal you intend to eat them. However other high water foods like tomato and spaghetti sauce do freeze well in sealed containers.
Other than freezing prepared meals, you can store cooked food in your refrigerator for 3 to 4 days depending on the cooked food. Refer to FDA’s food storage table for how long you can store foods in your fridge or freezer. The key to cooking is to only cook enough for the people in your home for 1 to 2 meals. Most people don’t want to eat the same food for days on end.
Label cooked and raw foods you put in the freezer if not in the original package. Frozen food may be difficult to determine what they are once frozen especially if frost crystals have formed on the food. Make sure that any food packages are airtight to prevent freezer burn because frost-free freezers dehydrate frozen food over time.
Have you ever tried a crock pot slow cooker? You can assemble the ingredients in the pot the night before and refrigerate the covered container. Then the next morning, put the pot inside the electric crock and turn on. When you come home, you will smell a wonderful home-cooked meal. You can refrigerate the leftovers for the next day’s meal.
Barbecuing meat, poultry, or fish that have short cook times are another method of preparing meats at the last minute. Skiskkebabs of alternating meat, poultry, or shrimp with vegetables or fruit (pineapple or mango) is also quick. You can marinate the meat starting the night before and cut the vegetables and fruit into large cubes so they are ready to assemble on skewers the next day. The key here is the food prep is after the meal on work days.