Tips on how to meal prep safely

Whenever handling food, hygiene needs to be at the forefront of our mind. However, whenever Meal prepping proper hygiene practices become even more important because meal prep meals are to be consumed later, therefore bacteria has more time to multiply whereas food to be consumed immediately does not really have that chance. Given this, it is key to minimise the bacteria present in your meal prep meals to begin with and to properly store the meals to slow down bacterial multiplication.

Meal Prep Tips
Tips on how to meal prep safely
Huma Khurshid

Huma Khurshid

Consultant Nutritionist And Qualified Health And Fitness Writer

Reading time:

5

min

We've provided some tips and strategies to save you from hygiene issues when food prepping.

In this article, we'll discuss:

✓  The Importance of Hygiene in Food Preparation

✓  Effective Strategies to Maintain Hygiene When Prepping Food

                 o  Sanitisation and cleaning

                 o  Basic Cooking Ethics

                 o  Clean as you go

                 o  Use the Bin regularly

                 o  Stay Organised

                 o  Store Food correctly

✓  Food Hygiene in the UK

Importance of Hygiene in Food Preparation

Food hygiene is essential to our health and the first thing we should take care of in the kitchen. It protects us from an array of diseases and illnesses. Poor hygiene practice when preparing food is very likely to cause food poisoning, and in more extreme cases, it can lead people to catch an illness and can even put lives in danger.

Clean food preparation and good hygiene in the kitchen are paramount to living a healthy and safe life.

Our skin creates a physical barrier with harmful bacterias and viruses from the outside environment. However, when food ethers our system through the consumption of food, our body is much more susceptible to getting attacked by the bacterias/viruses and this may cause an immune response which by itself is a nuisance such as vomiting and diarrhea.

Effective Strategies to Maintain Hygiene When Preparing Food

Following are some strategies that will let you know how to maintain hygiene when meal prepping.

1.  Sanisation and cleaning

Counters and cutting board need to be sanitised before starting food preparation.

Food surfaces become contaminated by bacteria and can spread food-borne illness when an infectious person touches, coughs or sneezes near them. 

According to World Health Organization, eating foods that contain chemicals can result in acute poisoning or long-term diseases, such as cancer. You need to wash your food, such as fruits and veggies, with disinfectants for your ultimate safety. 

2.  Basic Cooking Ethics 

Ensure you're following the basic cooking ethics in the kitchen.

Wear a clean apron

 Make sure you're not sweating or smelling bad

 Wear semi-close shoes to protect your feet from hot oil or waters pills. 

 Tie back your hair; you don't want your kid to pull a hair strand out of his meal.

Always clean your hands before entering the kitchen for cooking or eating.  

Tip: Keep a clean towel on yourself to make it easy and efficient to always wipe surfaces down. Just like a chef!

 

3.  Clean as you go

Everyone loves exploring and cooking new dishes but wait, what about cleaning that mess afterwards? Cleaning up everything at the end after you've worked for hours in the kitchen can be backbreaking. 

Clean your kitchen while cooking or prepping your food simultaneously. We're not talking about quick water run on the cutting board after assembling your salad; you have to clean things at every step.

For instance, you're prepping roasted veggies and grilled chicken. First, you cut the veggies and clean the workstation and cutting board. Then you reach for chicken and vice versa. 

Tip: Metal surfaces are best in the kitchen as they are easier to keep clean. You can use foil in between the cookers and hobs to keep the clean more easily.

4.  Use the Bin regularly

Every noticed the smiley face on the bin saying use me? Take that little man seriously and use it!

Trash such as plastic and paper wraps of your ready-made prepped foods will spread here and there if not in the bin. Moreover, fruit and veggies peel-offs can make a lot of smell and invite bacteria if rested for a long time on the shelf. 

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, researchers identified more than 250 food-borne diseases and infections caused by bacteria, viruses, parasites, and chemicals contaminating foods. It would be best to throw away things that can invite bacteria into your kitchen. 

Tip: Empty the bin more regularly in Summer or when it is warm to minimise bad odours and to arrival of pests such as flies and other insects which may hinder food hygiene.

5.  Stay Organised

Staying organised in the kitchen makes it all much easier and helps to minimise mistakes and maximising hygiene by addressing cross-contamination. Label foods as much as you can and write down the preparation date and if you can include the estimated expiry date. Labelling food is the most significant thing when it comes to maintaining organisation. The other key element is storage which we will get to in the next section in terms of food. However, we need to store various items in the kitchen, such as food ingredients, spices, and utensils.Things can become a mess when you don't place everything in order!

There are organisers to save us.

After doing groceries or ordering a week's worth of meal prep, organise and label everything so you don't face trouble and mess during eating. 

Tip: Use various cutting boards, each for different foods such as raw meat, cooked meat, veggies, and fruits.The catering industry uses colour-coded cutting boards for each food group (red for raw meat, green for veggies and fruits and so on).

6.  Store Food correctly

Storing food correctly is key to preserve shelf-life and to avoid cross-contamination between different food items. One of the best ways to keep your kitchen clean and free from germs is by storing things properly. Following are some techniques that you can use:

  Store raw meats on a separate shelf, away from other food items.

  Keep cooking oils and other liquids in containers with tight lids to avoid spills and smells.

  Store all dry goods in airtight containers or zip lock bags, preventing pests from getting into them.

  Store meal prep meals according to your usage. For instance, if you're planning to eat meat-based meal after 7 days, put it in the freezer to stop bacterial multiplication (a process called binary fission).

Food Hygiene in the UK

Unsanitary food is a significant concern for public health. It can lead to long-term adverse effects on human health, such as diabetes and obesity. Unsanitary conditions are also linked to higher hospitalisation rates, especially among children and the elderly.

According to the World Health Organization, poor sanitation can lead to the transmission of diarrhoea diseases such as cholera, dysentery, typhoid, intestinal worm infections and polio.

Food-borne illness is an unpleasant experience that you can avoid with good hygiene and sanitation practices. In terms of ordering food, in the UK, there are a lot of high-quality food vendors and restaurants that guarantee excellent hygiene and food safety. 

According to statistics, in May 2022, there were 107,480 restaurants and cafes in the UK with an active food hygiene rating.

The Bottom Line

Just like yourself, your kitchen needs a cleaning routine to stay hygienic, looking good and bacteria-free. 

If, like many, cleaning is not very appealing to you or you just don’t have the time to always clean properly, then ordering meal prep could be the right solution for you !

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