If you aren't sure how long your meal prep will last, this guide will help! Learn how long ingredients and meals will keep in the fridge.
How Long Do Meals Last in the Fridge?
People always wonder how long meal prep breakfasts can last if you batch cook a recipe or two on a Sunday. In most instances, recipes that contain eggs like breakfast burritos can last in the fridge until Wednesday or Thursday (so 3-4 days). When in doubt, you can freeze any leftovers for 3-6 months.
Overnight oats are an excellent meal prep option as they can last for up to 5 days in the fridge or 6 months in the freezer.
Salads with a green base (think lettuce, kale, spinach, etc.) can be difficult to meal prep as they can turn soggy. My advice is to store them in mason jars by putting your proteins and heartier vegetables at the bottom and adding your leafy greens at the top. When you do that, salads can easily last 3-5 days in the fridge depending on the ingredients you're using.
Rice and Grain Bowls
Rice and grain bowls are some of my favourite meal prep recipes. No matter if you're using rice or quinoa, these bowls should last 3-5 days depending on your protein source.
If you're using a vegetarian protein source like chickpeas or lentils, they can last for a solid 5 days if they're stored in quality meal prep containers. I recommend storing any sauces separately so they bowls are easier to heat and don't get soggy.
Pasta dishes, especially one pot pasta recipes, make for great leftovers! You can store most pasta dishes in the fridge for 3-4 days or in the freezer for 3-6 months.
While tomato-based sauces are excellent for freezing, I'd recommend steering away from freezing cream-based sauces as they can have a weird texture once they're reheated.
Another tip: If you love topping your pasta with fresh herbs, wait until you're ready to dig in to add them as they can bring a nice fresh flavor to your leftovers.
Sheet Pan Meals
Sheet pan meals are a great way to cook protein, veggies and sometimes even carbs all at once.
Most sheet pan meals will last 3-4 days in the fridge, especially if they're made with heartier vegetables like broccoli, carrots or sweet potatoes. You can also freeze any leftovers for 3-6 months, too. I personally don't love the texture of bell peppers after they've been frozen, though, so i'll try to finish up any servings I have before they go bad in the fridge.
Add one of these delicious sheet pan dinners to your meal plan now.
Soups, Stews and Chilis
Soups, stews and chilis are known to often taste better as leftovers, so they're fantastic for meal prepping.
Depending on what ingredients you use, these dishes will last between 3-5 days in the fridge or 3-4 months in the freezer. Keep in mind that cream-based soups don't freeze well, though.
Here are some of my favourite soup and chili recipes that deserve a spot on your weekly menu.
How Long Do Prepped Ingredients Last in the Fridge?
I'm a huge fan of ingredient prep to help make meal prep easier. Essentially, what you do is chop up all your veggies, cook some grains and mix some sauces and marinades ahead of time.
Here are some guidelines I'd recommend sticking to for storing and extending the shelf life of prepped ingredients:
- Vegetables: Most vegetables can be chopped and stored in the fridge for 5-6 days including minced garlic and ginger; potatoes can be peeled/chopped and stored in a container filled with water for 3 days.
- Raw meat: Raw beef & pork can be sliced/ diced and kept in the fridge for up to 2 or 3 days, depending the expiry date; burgers/meatball mix can be made up to 2-3 days in advance as well.
- Poultry: Raw chicken breasts & thighs can be sliced/diced and kept in the fridge for up to 2 or 3 days, depending the expiry date; can also be stored like this frozen for up to 3 months.
- Seafood: Raw shrimp can be defrosted, peeled and refrigerated for up to 2 days.
- Grains: Cooked grains can be stored in the fridge for 3-5 days.
- Sauces, marinades, dressings and salsas: Most of these can be made up to 3-6 days in advance depending on whether you used fresh produce or pantry staples to make them.
Best Storage Containers
One of the factors for ensuring your meal prep last longer is storing it in the proper containers. Here are my personal recommendations:
- These glass meal prep bowls are the best way to pack up your weekly lunches.
- Mason jars are great for salads where you're layering a bunch of different ingredients.
- Freeze and refrigerate leftovers in round glass microwave-safe bowls with lids.
- **Get my full list of storage containers and meal prep tools here**
When in doubt, I recommend freezing any leftover meals or ingredients. This will help reduce food waste and save you money at the grocery story, too.
To ensure your freezer meals stay fresh, make sure you store them properly to ensure they don't get freezer burn.
Whenever you're freezing something, make sure to label it with the recipe/ingredient name and the date. Audit your freezer periodically to ensure you use up your leftovers before they spoil.
Frequently Asked Questions
Most meal prep recipes will not stay fresh in the fridge for more than 4-5 days. If you store your meals in the freezer, though, they can last far longer than 7 days (up to 3-6 months).
Raw meat and chicken need to be used up in 2 days or by their expiration date. If you've included meat or chicken in your cooked meal prep recipes, they can last for 3-4 days in the fridge and 3-6 months in the freezer.
Two keys to keeping your meal prep fresh longer is buying the freshest ingredients at the grocery store and storing everything properly. You can read this food storage blog post for storage tips and product recommendations.
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