Meal prepping is a big thing but do you ever find that you get super organised and prep a stack of meals for the week ahead, only to see some of them go to waste for one reason or another?
Quite often, on a Sunday afternoon, I might spend a bit of time meal prepping for the week ahead as I work full time and at the end of the day, I’m not always in the mood to spend time cooking so as well as my usual freezer batch cooking, I might also do some prep for meals through the week and pop some bits in the fridge to save me some time.
I might make a pasta bake or some soup to pop into containers in the fridge ready for lunches the week ahead or batch cook some jacket potatoes to save time through the week (a jacket potato cooked in the oven and warmed up in the microwave is AMAZING). I have even been known to prep veg for evening meals so I just need to pop in the oven or steamer or boil a big pan of potatoes to make things like quick roasties, mash, cheesy mashed potato pancakes or even fishcakes.
It sounds very domestic but it’s actually a necessity because I know if I don’t then I’ll just not bother through the week which would be a nightmare as I’d end up just serving up coco pops for tea every night.
I made a soup in the soup maker last Sunday night with the intention of eating it for my lunch on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. I made spicy butternut squash and sweet potato soup which is my favourite as it’s super healthy and really tasty but I know that it’s not one that the kids are mad keen on at the moment so I knew I was making it just for me and in reality, I should have known that I would never eat the same thing three days in a row so Wednesday’s portion went to waste.
I could have frozen it in advance if I’d known rather than waste it but with it being on day three at that point, I just wasn’t comfortable with freezing. I know it would have been OK but I just couldn’t do it. 😂
So, that got me thinking and there must be more than just me who does this so I thought I’d share a couple of tips to help you (and me) to avoid any of your hard work meal prepping going to waste!
Meal Prep is good but think about how much you make
I should have realised that I was never going to eat three days’ worth of the same soup and I could have easily just made two portions instead of three meaning less waste. Similarly, in the past when I’ve done a cheeky bit of veg prep ready, I’ve over estimated the number of times we’re actually going to eat carrots over the course of the week!
Use your freezer more
Meal prepping things that can be frozen and cooked from frozen is definitely the way forward! I have a couple of things like freezer burritos and mini egg omelettes that work really well for us if I cook them on a weekend for breakfast and lunches through the week.
Allow yourself to be a bit flexible
A couple of weeks ago, I made two portions of overnight oats thinking I’d be super organised for the start of the week but then I completely forgot to take portion number two to work on Tuesday and it managed to get pushed to the back of the fridge so by the time I rediscovered it, it was way past its best. Now I weigh out the portions of oats into my little reusable silicone bags (I got mine from Tesco but these are the ones I have – aff link ) so it’s literally a case of pouring the oats into the jar and adding the yoghurt the night before.
Also, if I know I’ve made extra pasta then I won’t add it all to the meal I’m making, I’ll pop it in one of my silicone bags (I have larger ones as well as snack-sized ones) and will make something different with that the following night where I can. If I added it into the meal I was making and just made a larger quantity of that then I know the chances are that I’d get to the next day and not fancy it. Obviously, if I have leftovers of the meal itself then that’s a different story. 😂
Do some swapsies
I haven’t done this in a good while but I have swapped meals with my neighbours before if I know I’m going to have enough leftovers or I’ve known I was making something like a lasagne which is easy to make a whole extra portion. We’ve never been coordinated enough to swap at the same time but usually in the week or so following a swap the other one will be cooking a meal where they can do the same and bring the dish back with a whole new meal in it. I must get back into that but it just hasn’t felt right with everything that’s been going on in the world.
Learn your safety rules
Know how long you can keep each food you prep safely in the fridge – carrots for example can keep for 3 or 4 days once prepped (I pop a damp paper towel over my prepped veg in an airtight container in the fridge) so there’s no point making more than I know we’ll eat in that time. Sweet potatoes last a similar length of time whereas normal potatoes only last a day of so it’s important to know how long things will store safely so it doesn’t waste. I just google ‘how long will *** keep in the fridge when prepped’.
Hopefully, if you follow these rules then you should see less waste from your meal prep!
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