The Return of Talking Time

Go Back   The Return of Talking Time > Talking about other things > Talking about food

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 04-23-2017, 07:00 AM
MooMoo's Avatar
MooMoo MooMoo is offline
Butternut Squash
 
Join Date: Sep 2014
Location: YooKay
Posts: 1,261
Default Batch cooking and prepping meals

I'd like to start batch cooking my work lunches, for example pasta and sauce, curry and rice, chili and rice, that sort of thing. I'm a bit of a stickler for food hygiene, so the idea of making meals that sit in the fridge for days (especially w/meat) sounds like a recipe for food poisoning to me. So I'd like some advice on how to best prep and store things.

Let's take chili for example. I have in the past frozen and reheated leftover chili with no problem, but what about rice? If I batch cooked a couple of chilli and put rice on the tub, is that something I could or should freeze and reheat? And even then, should I defrost it cook from frozen?

What about pasta?! Should I freeze that? Should I not?

If anyone can help clear up the process of batch cooking that'd be super helpful.
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Old 04-23-2017, 07:52 AM
Büge's Avatar
Büge Büge is offline
Safe Space
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: TO, ON, CA
Posts: 13,965
Default

I've made chili, pasta and jambalaya and kept them in the fridge for up to 6 days and it was fine.

As long as your refrigerator temperature is lower than 4 °C, you should be fine for keeping most cooked food for about 3-4 days.

Rice is fine if you freeze/defrost it. As for pasta, you're probably going to want to toss it in oil once cooked so it doesn't stick together or absorb too much moisture.
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 04-23-2017, 09:11 AM
R^2's Avatar
R^2 R^2 is offline
Chuck 'im into the soup!
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 2,801
Default

In the food industry the rule is that food has to get below 70F within two hours. From there it needs to hit its holding temperature of below 40F within four more hours. If you do that, you've gotten it cold enough that bacteria doesn't get a chance to grow into a big food-poisoning mess inside your lunch.

The problem is that refrigerators and freezers aren't actually very good at making hot things cold. They're good at keeping cold things cold, but if you put a big stockpot full of whatever it was you just cooked in the fridge, you'll make everything else in there warm before you get anything cool. It's best to do the cooking-temp-to-70F-in-two-hours step outside your fridge or freezer.

So use ice baths. Fill your kitchen sink with ice, run cold water into it, and take that hot cooking pot or cooking dish and dunk it in. With ice water up 3/4 of the outside of the pot, the stuff inside will cool pretty damn fast. Give it a stir every few minutes to get the food on the very inside of the pot to the outside so it can cool too.

If you don't have a really robust ice maker or like a million ice trays, this may mean you have to buy a bag of ice while you're out shopping for your lunch ingredients.

If you're prepping food on a smaller scale, you can empty an ice tray into a sturdy plastic freezer bag and dunk that into your cooking vessel to cool the food from the inside out. You may need to drain the bag and replace the ice more than once before your food gets below 70F.

If you're doing just one small-to-medium batch of something, you can probably do okay just putting it into a flat pan or container and putting that in the freezer. You want the food as wide and shallow as possible so that as much of it is exposed to the cool air as you can get; when I do this I use a 9x11" plastic container. Food should be less than two inches deep for this method.
(If you really want to supercharge it, put a sheet pan/cookie sheet/baking sheet/whatever you call 'em in your freezer when you start cooking. When you put the food on top of the cold metal it'll suck the heat right out.)

After your food is cold, portion it into the containers you'll be taking to lunch with you later in the week.

I'm assuming your foods are completely cooked before you're putting them aside to cool. It doesn't much matter if you're mixing vegetables and meat and starch if they're completely cooked (and you're eating them within a couple of days).
Don't wrap anything too acidic like tomato sauce in foil when you store it.
Starchy foods like pasta and rice tend to dry out when you microwave them, so assuming you're microwaving them, go ahead and pack them in sauce.
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 04-23-2017, 09:37 AM
MooMoo's Avatar
MooMoo MooMoo is offline
Butternut Squash
 
Join Date: Sep 2014
Location: YooKay
Posts: 1,261
Default

Awesome, that's pretty much want I wanted to know.

Now if anyone has any batch cook ideas that'd be super dooper.
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 04-24-2017, 09:51 AM
Mightyblue's Avatar
Mightyblue Mightyblue is online now
Are You Sure About That?
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Somewhere cold. And frosty.
Posts: 20,156
Default

I mean, the typical menu is One Protein Source + Several carb sources (to mix and match with) + several Veg sources (to mix and match with). The protein and carb parts will get you long and short term energy, while the veg provides most of the nutrition. You then pick a sauce that will then generally fit the range of options you're preparing.

Cooking everything separately is a pain in the ass, but also allows you to freely mix and match things so you're not just eating whatever you pre-blended.
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 04-24-2017, 01:27 PM
R^2's Avatar
R^2 R^2 is offline
Chuck 'im into the soup!
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 2,801
Default

Cajun food, stews, and curries are all things that get better after a day in the fridge, so those are fantastic ideas for pre-prepped items.

Foods like lasagnas, spanikopita, and tamales are so much effort to put together that you want to do those in huge batches and freeze them so you can skip the prep next time (not that a whole frozen lasagna is really suitable take-to-work lunch fare, but if you're pre-prepping dinners like I do, hey).
Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -7. The time now is 03:23 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Your posts ©you, 2007