One of the advantages of making meal preparation a weekly ritual is possessing food on hand whenever you need it. However, just because you’ve prepared food for the week doesn’t mean it will all be enough to last that long. How long does meal preparation last in the refrigerator, and is there a way to extend it so that it lasts for a full week?
This user-friendly guide will teach you everything you need to know about how long meal preparation typically takes and a few tricks for making it go faster. Additionally, you’ll discover a free guide to meal prep storage that you can print out and stick to your refrigerator for convenient access.
How Long does Meal Preps Last in the Fridge?
Meal preparation would never end in an ideal world, so we wouldn’t have to worry about doing it once or twice a week. However, prepared food can quickly go bad in the real world, so if you prepare your meals every week, it can be useful to know how long they will keep.
The shelf life of some of the most popular prepared meal prep components is listed below:
- 3–4 days for meat
- 3-4 days for chicken; 3-4 days for seafood
- 3-4 days for beans, 3-4 days for eggs, and up to 1 week for hard-boiled eggs.
- Vegetables: 3-4 days fruit: 3-5 days tofu: 4-5 days fresh fruit: varies
This list of meal prep ingredients isn’t all-inclusive, but it includes most of the ingredients people use weekly. And as you can see, most of those ingredients only keep useful (and safe) in the fridge for about 3–5 days.
It’s crucial to remember that those above recommended use-by dates apply to cooked ingredients kept in the refrigerator. The use-by dates of raw ingredients may differ from those of cooked ingredients and may even be longer or shorter. Shelf-stable ingredients may have a different use-by date when kept at room temperature instead of in the refrigerator.
Avoid reusable plastic containers, and plastic bags avoided reusable plastic containers and plastic bags for meal preps in the fridge can help you save time and money and reduce waste. Choosing non-toxic materials for your containers will also help the environment.
Plastic containers for food storage must be BPA-free and meet specific regulations. These containers must be labelled as food safe and tested several times by toxicologists. The plastics industry has developed standardized identification codes for plastic resin. These codes can be found on the bottom of most food containers.
Food storage containers for the freezer should be moisture-vapour resistant, leak-proof, and easy to seal. They should also be easy to clean.
Plastics are made from several different chemicals. Some of these chemicals can be dangerous, including styrene, a neurotoxin. Some of these chemicals can also leach into food.
Some food storage containers are made of high-density polyethene (HDPE) or polypropylene. These plastics are considered less toxic than other plastic and are long-lasting and impact-resistant.
Having a fridge full of frozen food is convenient, but it can also pose a health risk. Food left in the fridge for too long can lead to food poisoning. The FDA has compiled some guidelines to help determine the safety of refrigerated food.
Meal prepping is a great way to ensure you’ll have a nutritious meal without fumbling around for ingredients at the last minute. It can also help you save money and time. Meal prep can be done by cooking in advance, using frozen food, or reheating leftovers. However, it’s important to remember that it’s about personal taste.
Food safety depends on several factors, including the quality of the ingredients you use and how you store them. A clear understanding of the rules of thumb will help you keep your food fresher for longer.
In addition to ensuring your food is properly wrapped before freezing, there are other things you can do to increase its lifespan. Among these are using airtight containers and refrigerating the item as soon as possible.
Using meal prep can be a great way to reduce food waste and save time later in the week. However, knowing how long your meal preps will last in the fridge is important. Some foods will go bad faster than others, and you may need to add water to make them last longer.
You can keep some food in the fridge for three or four days. Others will lose their taste or fragrance after one day. If you’re unsure, check the best-before date on your ingredients. This will help you plan your meals better.
You can also freeze meals to keep them safe for a longer period. Soups, stews, and other cold dishes can last up to five or six days in the freezer. Meat proteins can also last up to four days in the freezer.
It’s important to remember that the quality of the ingredients you use will affect how long your meal preps will last. For example, if you use fresh, high-quality ingredients, you can keep your meal preps fresh for a week. If you use store-bought items, however, you may be unable to keep them as long.
Can Meal Prep Last a Week in the Fridge?
If you’re planning to meal prep for a full week, you have two options: even meals that can last a little longer in the fridge typically taste good for about four days.
One option is to prepare meals twice a week to prevent your cooked meals from spoiling before you can eat them. When you prepare meals twice for 3–4 days, you can have a full week’s worth of meals without having to worry about food spoiling by the end of the week.
Another choice is to prepare enough food for a week and then freeze any extra servings you won’t consume within the first 3–4 days. You won’t have to worry about wasting the food you prepared because meals can be stored in the freezer longer than in the refrigerator. Defrost your extra meals when the week is over, and enjoy.
Why should you Meal Prep?
You’ll save time by learning to prepare your meals, but you’ll also save money and lessen waste. Furthermore, this method gives you complete control over the ingredients in your food, unlike ordering takeout, making it ideal for anyone trying to stick to their health goals. It can also simplify a busy schedule by eliminating the uncertainty of what to eat for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
Additionally, it’s simpler to portion control and concentrate on healthy recipes; avoiding those midweek slumps when ordering pizza sounds much more appealing than preparing a home-cooked meal using ingredients from your most recent grocery run.
You only need a meal plan, some meal prep containers to store your food in, and some dedicated time to cook and portion your meals to enjoy all the benefits of meal preparation. You can prepare for success in the coming week in just an hour.
Should I Meal Prep if I Don’t Like Eating the Same Thing Every Day?
It can save a lot of time to prepare the same meal every day of the week, but it also gets monotonous. Make minor adjustments to your meal preparation to give each dish a little variation if you get tired of eating the same meals repeatedly.
You might substitute different vegetables, sauces, or garnishes for each container to keep things fresh.
Alternatively, you can prep and freeze multiple recipes ahead of time. Then, defrost one or two containers per day in the fridge so you can have a variety of meals all week.
How to Tell When your Meal Prep has Gone Bad?
You’ll start noticing alterations in how food tastes, looks and smells when it starts to spoil. Here are some indicators that your dinner preparation has gone bad:
- It appears slimy, mushy, or mouldy.
- It tastes sour, bitter, or fishy and has a rancid or rotting odour.
- It now has a distinct colour.
For your safety, you might want to think about throwing away any food that has changed in colour, texture, flavour, or smell.
How do I Store Food for Meal Preparation?
The best option for storing meal preparation is in storage containers. You have the option of choosing between glass or plastic containers.
Glass storage containers might cost a little more, but they’ll help you store the food securely and for a long time. While shopping, check out our top picks for the best glass meal prep containers.
Ensure your container is airtight to stop bacteria from growing and getting inside.
Use freezer bags that can be sealed to stop airflow for liquid or smaller items.
We’ve also covered a few additional suggestions for food storage that you might find useful.
For those who prefer to spend less time in the kitchen, meal preparation is fantastic.
Additionally, it can discourage the consumption of less nutrient-dense fast food and encourage nutrient-dense, wholesome meals.
Meal prepping may involve preparing big portions to be frozen, whole meals to be chilled, or prepared items to be blended as needed, depending on your goals, schedule, and meal preferences.
Choose one day each week to meal plan, buy ingredients, and cook using a system that works for you.