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Storing Pre-Made Foods & Vegetables

Prepping your go-to recipes prior to the mealtime madness is key to saving time in the kitchen, but how do you avoid wilted or freezer-burned food? Here are a few key tips to try when choosing how and where to store prepped ingredients so that you can quickly assemble or reheat delicious meals later on.

Primary Tools: Food Storage Containers, Tape, and a Marker
  • Glass containers are conveniently transparent, easy to clean, often microwave-safe, and 100% recyclable. Many of them stack easily to save space in your fridge or freezer. Use them in the fridge to store cut up veggies, marinated meats, hardboiled eggs, grated cheese, etc. Glass is not recommended for the freezer because it can crack as freezing foods or liquids expand. BPA free? Can go right from freezer to oven.
  • Plastic containers are convenient in that they are light, cheap, come in all shapes and sizes, stack well, and you don’t have to worry about breakage, but use them for only storing cold or dry foods. Avoid storing hot items or reheating meals in them to keep plastic from possibly seeping into foods.
  • Heavy weight, top-sealing freezer bags are great for freezing and storing liquid sauces, marinades, soups, and cooked grains. Be sure to wait for everything to cool down to room temperature before pouring it into the bag. Then lay the bags flat on a cookie sheet in the freezer so that they freeze into thin, square shapes that you can then store vertically for easy access.
  • Other storage materials include aluminum foil, plastic wrap, freezer paper and freezer tape, and thoroughly cleaned recycled containers like pickle, mason and jam jars.
  • No matter what you use for storage, always label your containers so that you can identify them quickly later on and always add the date it was prepped. Painters tape sticks to all of the containers listed above and is easy to remove.
How to Store + For How Long
  • What to separate: 
    • Keep prepped salads stored away from dressings or sauces to avoid sogginess.
    • If you want to freeze a dairy-based soup, don’t add the milk until you are ready to thaw and cook the soup. (TIP: Write yourself a reminder to add milk on your freezer label.)
  • Fridge Friendly:
    • Protein:
      • If you will be cooking meat or fish within 3 days, you can refrigerate it.
      • Put containers of raw meat or fish on lowest shelf to protect other foods from possible leakage.
    • Fruits and Vegetables:
      • Typically hold for about a week.
      • Asparagus spoils faster, but pears, apples, and citrus fruits can last up to several weeks.
      • For longer-lasting salad greens, wash and dry them, then roll them loosely in paper towels or a clean kitchen towel and store in a glass or plastic bin.
      • Pre-chop veggies like carrots, celery, peppers, and broccoli and put them in covered bins for use in salads, sautés or as snacks.
      • You can refrigerate whole avocados once they start to feel soft, but never refrigerate bananas because they will turn brown. (If you have ripe bananas just peel them, put them in a freezer bag, and freeze them for use in smoothies or baking.)
  • Freezer Friendly: If you will not be using your prepped foods or pre-made meals within their recommended fridge time, you should freeze them. To avoid freezer burn, keep your frozen items in packages that are as airtight as possible. If you do a lot of freezing, you may want to invest in a vacuum sealer. Otherwise you can just press as much air out of freezer bags as possible or use freezer paper and freezer tape, aluminum foil or plastic wrap. Always let foods cool off completely before freezing so they don’t form ice crystals inside. And freeze foods in meal-sized portions for easier reheating.
  • Freezer Unfriendly: Some foods do NOT freeze well. These include: Lettuce, eggs or egg-based sauces, soft cheese, dairy-based soup or sauces.
  • A complete list of fridge and freezer storage times is available here, but always sniff questionable items and when in doubt toss them out! Better safe than sorry.