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Used by dates - when cooking ahead


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Dear All


I'm only on day 3 but I can see that if I need to keep chopping and cooking so much for the rest of the 27 days I will need to give up work! I've never used my cooker so much :-)


Can you give me some advice - when meat or veg are say cooked on a Sunday in bulk how long do they last in the fridge in plastic containers? 


Likewise with the sweet potato patties or the egg and bacon 'muffins' that people talk about for breakfast on the go (I have to commute for 1h30 before I get to work) - how long do they last once cooked?


Appreciate this is a rather basic question..I really want to do this but somehow need to become the domestic goddess that I've never managed to be!



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All I can say is I had the exact same question when I started about how can I cook so much. Someone told me then and now I can see it takes a few months and then it somehow level out, or seems easier, or you've gotten past a learning curve......don't know quite what but it doesn't feel like that forever.

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Can you give me some advice - when meat or veg are say cooked on a Sunday in bulk how long do they last in the fridge in plastic containers? 


I do all my cooking one day a week (when I'm organized). As far as how long it lasts, really depends on the food. Meat should be fine for a week. In our house, any meat that has been cooked but not eaten in a week typically gets frozen for future quick meals (or gets tossed into a soup and then frozen). 


For the veggies- we have had good luck with the sturdier veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, etc.) staying for a few days. Although, we have a toaster oven, so by the time the meat is reheated, I can have fresh steamed veggies ready to go. As far as any greens, those are best cooked to serve. 


Another tip for quick breakfasts- cook up a frittata (or two), cut into individual serving sizes then freeze them. Take a few out at the beginning of the week, then heat and eat. As I take one out of the fridge, I replace it with one from the freezer so I always have frittata available. 


This would also work with the egg and bacon "muffins," or even plain scrambled eggs. Cooked eggs freeze and reheat well. 


And one last tip. If you really like the meal you are planning to cook, make two of it and freeze the second in individual portions. You can eat it any time within the next three months (without having to cook again). 


Like the others mentioned, it does become more routine and a bit easier, but yes, eating this way is a lot of work. I wouldn't eat any other way though. 

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I don't like doing the whole "Cook all day on sunday and freeze food for the week" method. I don't even like Melissa Joulwan's method of cooking meat and veggies sepperately and storing them to be thrown together for meals later. I am fine eating leftovers the next day, but I can't eat them past that. Meat just doesn't taste as good, especially poultry gets a funky flavor after a few days, and veggies always end up overcooked.


I go to the farmer's market on saturday morning, then come home and wash and chop all my veggies and store them raw in the fridge in ziplock baggies. Meat I just thaw out the night before or while I'm at work by placing it in a large bowl in the sink and letting water drip over it. It thaws in a few hours that way. Then I just cook 30-minute meals all week, or throw stuff in my slow cooker to cook while I'm at work. I make things that require more time/attention on the weekends.

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I try to plan my meals so that the more perishable items are eaten early in the week and the less perishable later.  I wouldn't cook anything on Sunday that I'd be eating later than Tuesday or Wednesday.  I might chop certain veggies for later in the week or make something I can freeze.  That's probably why Monday and Tuesday are yummy dinners like soup or zoodles and Thursday is usually eggs (i.e. quick). LOL

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Quick dinners are good - especially mid week! I've 'found' frozen spinach and brocholli today and that's def going to help. Mind you my guinea pigs miss out as they don't get the green stalks!

I can see the secret is to keep it simple and not try to do a new dish every night. Tomorrow is going to be a simple steak and 3 veg!

Thanks everyone for the advice I really appreciate it!

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I don't like leaving a lot of cooked food in the fridge, and don't like reheating plain meat for meals.

I make bulk curry/stew and freeze portions - these are taken out the night before we want to eat them. I also bake lots of chicken for lunches, again frozen in portions to take out the day before to defrost. This is fine to eat cold. I chop salad vegies 3 days at a time, and add meat and dressing in the morning of the day of eating. All other vegies I cook fresh - I don't like cooking and reheating these either!

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I've actually been having this argument with some friends who think I'm courting disaster.  In my house, cooked foods (meat, veg, what have you) last until they're eaten.  However long that takes.  I cook on Sunday, and sometimes if I make a large roast or something, or eat out a lot during the week, it will last eight or nine days.  I have never been sick from it.


My brother, who is in the food service business, assures me that the health & safety standards are ten days.  Twelve in South Dakota.  (Don't ask me why...!)

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Rather than do everything all on one day (weekend food jail!), try and have two nights during the week where you cook something really easy, so you've got prep time for future meals.

When you've got more recipes under your belt, try and plan re-usable items, like roast chickens which you then use leftovers for chicken salad, chicken zoodles and chicken soup.

Roasting 2 chickens is barely any more work than 1 chicken.
For wet-type recipes (casseroles, curries, soups), see if a double batch is as easy as a single one (it may not be if it doesn't fit in your pots or your fridge/freezer, or it's more fiddly to cook in a large batch).

Some super fast veggies - very little chopping:

Pre-packed salad or kale or spinach (for fastest prep, look for the ready-to-eat kind, not the ones you have to wash)

Snow Peas

Green Beans

Frozen stir fry veggie mixes (read the label) - I like these best in thai curries
Frozen green beans - these are good cold too, but make sure you cook them

Some fast meats/protein:
Slow cooker things (not really fast, but not a lot of work and it can run overnight to give you a hot breakfast) - pulled pork
Fish or Seafood with lemon & pepper

Egg muffin cups - I find 12 is a lot of eggs for one person, 6 is 3 days of breakfast (2 per day).

Ground meat muffin cups - Do 12 and freeze half, or do 6 when you make egg cups (3 breakfasts, 3 lunches).
Sweet potato muffins - do 12 and freeze half.

--> muffin cups don't all have to be the same, herbs, aliums, bacon, spices etc
Tinned fish/seafood - salmon, tuna, etc.

Some super fast meals:

Thai curry - also good as leftovers

Salmon patties


If you find chopping things is your big time suck, maybe look at some of the tools which can speed that up (dicing things, slicing things, graters, spiralisers).

If cooking time is your big time suck, look at what you could eat raw instead, or cut things up smaller for faster cooking times.


If you're worried about food safety, bacteria + time is where it gets messy:


Make sure reheated food is heated up properly, not luke warm.
Keep your cooked food above raw food in the fridge, so raw things can't drip on your cooked things (this is where a lot of food poisoning comes from - undoing all your careful prep).

Check your fridge temperature, make sure it's not too warm (most have an internal thermostat you can adjust).

If you can, avoid freezing things which have already been previously frozen (never do this with raw items).

Store leftovers in glass or ceramic (least reactive) rather than metal or plastic - acid items like lemon may reduce the life of your leftovers - add fresh where you can. While stainless steel is not very reactive, try not to store acidic things in it. If you have to use plastic for storage, avoid storing fats and wet things in them if you can, put those in ceramic or glass.

Cover leftovers tightly, so any germs in the fridge can't jump from one container to another (moldy food is high risk for everything else as the air circulates it all over everything).
If you use anything out of a bulk packet like bacon or salad, use fresh clean tongs to extract your servings, this cuts down on bacteria and will keep it fresher longer.
Avoid handling cooked food with your hands, use tongs etc.

Check dates on meat before you buy it, this can extend your dates by quite some time. Some places pack meats with gas and so have longer expiration dates.
There are veggie storage bags and absorbers you can get which alter the levels of gas inside your fridge (things like apples exude gas), while there's no change in bateria levels, they can make your fresh fruit and veggies last longer.
Raw egg is best fresh, so unless you use loads, stick to single batches of mayo. I keep my mayo in glass.

I try to eat cooked meat within 4 days of cooking it, but I find some things last a lot longer, like roast chicken (fatty).
I don't keep cooked seafood for more than a day.


Try and review your meals on their effort/prep-time, some recipes are better for a weekend rather than a week night and some are possibly more effort than they're worth as a regular meal. It's great if you really love them, but if you're knackered, cranky and hungry by the time they're done, they're less enjoyable :)

Some things you can half-prep ahead of time (salmon pattie mix, coconut shrimp) and just cook when you're ready to eat. Half-prep recipes are great to start or finish on a quick-cook night.

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Wow. Thank you. That's so much info my head is spinning. I'm trying to copy it so I can print it out and put it on the fridge!!

I know what you mean about weekend jail. All I seem to do at the moment is cook and either fill or empty the dishwasher. I was grumbling to my self earlier than I thought... Count your blessings at least you have a dishwasher!

I've done some simple dinners this week / 4min steaks with frozen veg and while not mega exciting they have been filling and best of all compliant!!

Thanks again for all the info I'm off to read it again and try and find that slow cooker I know I had at some point!

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