Following on from my advice on "Preparing and Cooking Food Safely", I want to talk more about how to safely storing the food. Some foods need more care than others, but as long as you follow a set of simple guidelines everything you serve up should be perfectly safe for you and your family to enjoy. Here I discuss rules around food storage, freezing and defrosting!
Rules around food storage:
- Always store cooked and cooled food in the fridge within 2 hours of preparation.
- When cooked food is prepared and stored in the fridge, you have 3 days to safely consume it. For example if I prepare my Coconut Chicken Curry on Monday, I will store it in the fridge and make sure to reheat and serve any leftovers by Wednesday.
- Certain foods that doesn't require cooking, such as my Homemade Basil Pesto, will keep in the fridge for up to a week as long as it is stored in an airtight container. Place a layer of oil on top of the pesto to prevent it going brown.
Storing uncooked foods:
- Uncooked Rice – when a bag is open it is important to reseal or place in an airtight container.
- Raw meat – always store raw meat in sealed containers at the bottom self of the fridge to avoid contamination. Always make sure to keep cooked meat separate from raw meat.
- Tomatoes – keep tomatoes outside the fridge and let them ripen as they will taste so much nicer. If you feel you won’t use them up before they ripen too much then place in the fridge.
- Onions – lock away any unwanted smells in the fridge by using our airtight portion pots.
Storing cooked foods:
Cook – After cooking, leave your food to cool at room temperature for a maximum of 2 hours before refrigerating. To get the most out of your batch cooks I suggest portioning your food into our airtight portion pots so that you only serve what you need! You can find all the pots you need for the family inside the Ultimate Batch Cooking Set. Check out our portion guide for the correct portions for each family member.
Refrigerate – Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before freezing to get your food to 10 degrees.
Freeze – Your food is now ready for the freezer. Frozen food should be used up within 3 to 4 months.
My Chicken Tikka Masala is one of my favourite recipes to batch cook and freeze to enjoy whenever we have a craving for curry!
Defrosting and reheating guidelines:
Reheat food once only – after you cook food, you can only reheat it safely one time.
Freeze food once only – the general rule is that you can only freeze food once. The only exception to this is if you are cooking with defrosted raw ingredients, for example raw mince. You can cook your meal using the defrosted ingredients and still safely freeze your leftovers portions, however once these are defrosted and heated through they must be consumed.
You have 3 methods to safely defrost food:
- In the fridge overnight – this is the easiest and safest way to defrost food and this way you can simply reheat what you need.
- In the microwave – make sure you use the defrost setting on the microwave. You will need to heat the food through until piping hot before serving.
- In the oven – if you have frozen a meal like a Shepherd's Pie you can defrost and reheat in the oven.