Jill Reid | Kitchen Spirit
Don’t be surprised if your family says “Yes!”
When creating most of my recipes, I usually measure the ingredients to make enough for future meals. It makes for quick, easy lunch or dinners when I’m short on time or unexpected guests drop by. I call it SMP, or “Strategic Meal Prep.” A step beyond the traditional definition of “leftovers,” SMP is more about preparing food for storage, fresh from the oven, stove-top, or mixing bowl, by immediately refrigerating or freezing it, depending on how long before you plan to serve it. Being able to feed family members their favorite meal any hour of the day or night, and portioning an entre for an individual serving or family of five are just a couple advantages of this time-saving strategy.
Compared to the alternative of pre-frozen dinners and processed convenience foods, well, there’s no contest. With SMP, you have all the benefits of a quick and easy meal without unhealthy additives, preservatives, fillers, and unnecessary fat and salt used in most of the options in your store’s frozen food case. And you’ll know that ready-to-heat dinner waiting for you at home is healthy and nutritious, because you made it yourself.
SMP is a simple method to incorporate when making your own lunch and dinners. All you need to do is adjust the ingredients to accommodate the extra number of meals you want in reserve. But how long can you store a frozen meal and still be assured it will serve up tasty and appealing? Here’s a link to a handy chart from FoodSafety.gov offering guidelines for both refrigerated and frozen foods: https://www.foodsafety.gov/keep/charts/storagetimes.html.
Keep in mind that flavor and texture also have definite limits before they begin to lose their appeal. My suggestion is to plan on the conservative side by using your frozen “leftovers” within 30-60 days of preparation. By having a regular rotating inventory of meals available, you can easily complement your freshly prepared fare with nutritious and healthy options.
The most effective step you can take to preserve both taste and texture of your frozen and refrigerated meals is choosing the right kind of storage container. You need a product that seals air-tight, while preventing freezer burn. It should also be made from a “neutral material” that will not affect the quality or taste of the food, i.e., no BPA’s or other chemicals associated with cheap plastic storage containers.
The best option? Glass. Until recently, it was difficult to find a high quality glass storage container with an air-tight seal. I’ve tried regular glass jars with metal twist lids, but found out quickly that not all glass is created equal. Cracked sides and chipped rims were common (I actually opened a jar of homemade salsa and found bits of glass from the rim had dropped into the food—yikes!) My engineer husband explained it as “conflicting coefficients of linear expansion from dissimilar materials.” After doing a little research to decipher the code, I realized I needed another option.
My continuing quest for just the right type of food storage solution finally brought me to Vremi. These nifty containers are great! They’re air-tight and seal with snap-tight air-vent lids. Even better, they’re freezer, oven, microwave, and dishwasher safe, and come in a variety of sizes to accommodate most any need. And more important, they’re BPA free! I like these containers so much I also use them in my pantry for dry beans, seeds and nuts, raisins, cranberries, and other staples requiring air-tight, dry storage. And they’re ideal for refrigerated items like coleslaw, veggies, and cut-up fruit.
For me, the Vremi Glass Storage Containers have turned out to be an absolute necessity for strategic meal preparation. In fact, since trying out my first set, I’ve purchased two more, assuring I always have safe, reliable storage solutions on hand. They’re the perfect complement to my kitchen, and have become indispensable for planning next week’s—or next month’s—meals.
As a good friend of mine once told me, “If I had them, I’d use them.” She was right, and I love them!
Vremi 18 Piece Glass Food Storage Containers with Locking Lids – BPA Free, Airtight, Oven-Freezer-Dishwasher-Microwave Safe! Includes (9) containers with (9) color-accented snap-on matching lids with air vents – perfect for microwave heating.
Borosilicate glass set includes (3) 11 oz containers (1.3 cups / 320 ml) (2) 22 oz containers (2.7 cups / 640 ml) (2) 27 oz 2 x 27 oz containers (3.3 cups / 800 ml) (2) 35 oz containers (4.3 cups / 1040 ml) and (9) air-tight vented lids. Oven safe up to 500 degrees F. (Container lids not oven safe)
I picked this set up on Amazon, where I find most everything I can’t get locally. Need more info? Click Here for the Amazon link!