Want to be a super cook? Cooking is more than following a recipe and just slapping some ingredients together. Being a super cook means making sure you’re following proper food hygiene practices before you start the cooking process. By using these meal prep tips you’ll become a rock star in the kitchen.
Meal prepping is more than just finding a recipe and buying all the ingredients. Although that’s the first part of the meal prep process, there are several things you need to do to ensure the food you’re preparing for your family is not only delicious, but it’s safe to eat.
There are tons of things we all forget. Life’s crazy and hectic. There’s cleaning to do, doctors’ appointments, work, making sure the kids get off to school on time, homework, baths and bedtime. It’s a wonder we remember how to dress at times.
I know you know the importance of washing your hands in warm soapy water; however, there are times, we may forget about it. Before you begin to handle any food always make a point to wash your hands first.
There are times we may pet Fido, then without thinking start handling the food. Please don’t feel bad if you just now realized you pet the dog then made your kiddo’s peanut butter and jelly sandwich without washing your hands first.
Top 10 meal prep tips – food safety style
ONE – Wipes the lids off all canned items thoroughly to remove any dust or dirt prior to using the can opener. While you’re at it; make sure the can opener is clean and debris free.
TWO – Wash all fruits and vegetables in warm water with a vegetable brush or by using a vegetable cleaner. Pay attention to vegetables that will be served raw. If you’ll be serving raw vegetables such as zucchini, cucumber or carrots, make sure it’s washed thoroughly before removing the peel.
Superhero Tip: Contrary to popular folk law on the internet. You should NEVER wash your produce off with antibacterial dish detergent or any type of dish detergent. Soap and detergent residue can remain on your fruits and vegetables. This practice is not recommended by the FDA.
THREE – Use a meat thermometer to check to see if your meat is cooked thoroughly. Different meats require different internal temperatures. The listing should be on the outside casing of your thermometer. Since the writing is so small on the outer casings you’ll want to download this meat temperature chart as a reference guide. Not only is it pretty to look at, but it will be one of your most-used kitchen resources. If you get it laminated, it will last you a lifetime.
FOUR- Always make sure the internal temperature of hamburger meat reads 160°. If you enjoy eating your hamburger meat cooked medium-rare, where it’s a little pink inside, that’s okay, just as long as the internal temperature reads 160°. An internal temperature lower that can still harbor bacteria.
FIVE – If you use a bowl, utensils or anything to hold your raw meat, clean it with hot soapy water before putting it in the dishwasher. Don’t use anything that touched raw meat with any other food item until it’s been thoroughly washed to avoid cross-contamination. This includes cutting boards. Want to learn more? You’ll totally want to read The Unbiased Truth About Sanitizing Cutting Boards. I go into great detail about the proper way to cleaning cutting boards.
SIX – Use separate cutting boards for both raw meat, fruits, and vegetables. Don’t use the same knife or the same cutting board. If you only have one cutting board available, cut your vegetables on a dinner plate.
SEVEN – Make sure to wash your dish rags and aprons on a weekly basis in hot water with bleach.
EIGHT- Don’t use kitchen sponges. If you’re old school and like them, change them out weekly. You can get a pack of 6 to 8 at the dollar store for a buck. If you want to know why I don’t recommend sponges, you will definitely want to read Why Kitchen Sponges are Horrible & Need To Be Burned.
NINE – Soak your blades, gears, and gaskets on food processors and blenders in hot antibacterial soapy water for a minimum of 5 minutes before rinsing and scrubbing.
TEN – If you’re sick, have a cold, or think you’re coming down with a cold, either wear a surgical mask or have someone prepare your meal for you.
If you have open wounds on your hands, such as but not limited to: cuts, abrasions, stitches, scrapes, or even scabies, wear either a waterproof bandage, surgical or rubber gloves. Dispose of the glove after each use. You can purchase a box of 100 gloves really cheap at Harbor Freight or Amazon.
Please make sure the gloves you purchase are food grade.
If you don’t already own a meat thermometer and you’re not sure what type you would like, head on over to How To Select The Best Food Thermometer and start your research there. Just a word of caution. Most really cheap ones you can find at the grocery store are worthless and don’t have accurate readings.
Superhero Tip: Never put your thermometers in the dishwasher. By doing so you may destroy the integrity of the gauge causing it to malfunction. If your thermometer starts to bend (due to poor storage), purchase a new one immediately.
Here’s a bonus for after you eat that delicious meal
Immediately pack all leftovers in food-safe containers. Don’t store your food in the refrigerator in the same container you served it in.
Example: If you made roast beef and served it in a glass dish; don’t slap a piece of aluminum foil over it and call it a day. Cut the leftover roast into smaller portions and store it in a food-grade, air-tight container. Larger portions take longer to cool properly and will become an ideal environment for bacteria to grow.
So there you have it. 1o meal prep tips that will make you an even better cook. I truly hope you found this informative.
What precautions do you take during your meal prepping session? Share in a comment below.
Until we meet again,