On Sundays, I do my best to meal-prep. When I actually succeed at roasting all my veggies, grilling chicken, cooking quinoa and soaking overnight oats, I feel like a brand-new woman ready to take on the world! But have you ever wondered how long these prepped ingredients are good for? Should you have made enough for 2 weeks’ worth of meals or only 2 days? Getting ahead of the game is one thing, but you still want everything to be fresh, tasty and above all, safe to eat. Let me ease your mind – not only for that amazing meal prep you just did, but also for that cold pizza from Friday night you just couldn’t finish and your Chinese takeout from a few days before (hey, you can’t meal prep everything).
I like to think of leftovers as meal prep ingredients all their own. Roasted vegetables are great in soups and sliced steak really elevates a simple salad. Whether they’re pre-made or just pre-chopped, prepped ingredients really come in handy when your busy life gets in the way of cooking. Here’s a good rule of thumb to follow – leftovers from a cooked meal, like meatloaf or frittata, can keep in your refrigerator for up to 4 days. The same goes for freshly-prepped ingredients. If you plan to use either at a later date, freeze in freezer-safe containers or bags and thaw when you are ready to use. When reheating leftovers and cooked ingredients, you want to make sure you are reaching a temperature of 165F.
Remember, when saving food for leftovers it is important to not let them sit out at room temperature for longer than 2 hours! Putting food in the fridge fast helps prevent the growth of bacteria. Definite plus.
So, when you are thinking about meal-prep or saving those leftovers from last night’s dinner party, keep in mind you have 4 days to use them or freeze them. My recommendation: meal prep Sunday night for breakfast and lunch Monday through Thursday, then treat yourself to lunch out on Friday to celebrate the end of a successful and prepped week!
All my best,