Staying healthy with a busy life can be quite the challenge, yet it’s totally do-able with some preparation. One of the key components of healthy meal planning is making sure that your food storage containers can stand up to your go-go-go lifestyle. Life is a lot easier when you’re not worrying if soup spilled in your bag, or if you’ll need to track down the almonds that are now rolling around in your purse.
Plus, when you prepare food, you’re more likely to eat healthy. And when you eat healthy, you’ll feel better and have more energy.
Here’s a quick guide for how to safely store food, from quick healthy meals to delicious pork barbecue for a family picnic:
Get Started: Find Healthy Meal Plans
The healthy meal plan that’s right for you and your family depends on your level of activity and dietary restrictions. Some ideas for how to stay full and energized include:
- Breakfast: Overnight oats or homemade granola. Generally, you’ll want your breakfast to be between 350 calories (to get you going when you first wake up) and 500 calories (which is probably more energy than you need to get to a mid-morning snack or lunch).
- Lunch: Black bean, mushroom, pumpkin or tomato soups. Lunch can be between 565 calories and 735 calories, depending on your sex, height and level of activity.
- Dinner: Pasta with a mix of colorful vegetables and protein, stir fry with chicken or turkey or a flavorful vegetarian dish. Your dinner should be around 650 calories and nutrient-packed to ensure you’re not hungry before bed or even woken up by the hunger.
Snacks: Nuts, popcorn or mini pitas with hummus. A good rule for snacks is to keep them around 100 calories.
Next: Safe Food Storage – Who Needs It?
Everyone. The child in the school cafeteria. Your sister who’s focusing on weight loss in Raleigh. Your retired father. Safe food storage means the food should be kept fresh and should be kept in a food storage container that won’t contaminate your food.
Research shows that some plastic storage containers can contaminate your food – and harm you when you eat it – because of chemicals like bisphenol (BPS), which is the unsafe alternative to the well-known chemical bisphenol A (BPA). Manufacturers began removing BPA as far back as 2006, only to replace it with BPS.
The problem with BPA and BPS is that they can mess with a cell’s functioning, which can lead to diabetes, obesity or cancer. The chemicals make their way into your food when the meal or snack is heated in a plastic container or sits in it for an extended period of time, like when meals are prepared on Sundays for the entire week.
Which is why the storage container for the food matters – in addition to what’s inside the containers.
Storage Prep: What to Look for
You put time and energy into researching healthy meal plans and preparing the food you can ahead of time, so now you want to put it in storage containers that will:
- Keep the food fresh
- Be safe for use in the microwave
To do that, look for containers that include:
Glass as the core material. This could be anything from glass mason jars to Pyrex glass storage containers.
- Plastic with the recycling numbers 2, 4 and 5 on the bottom, with the triangle recycling icon, which are considered the safest
- Steel as the core material or as the lining of the container.
- Secure lids that snap on to the container.
- A transparent outside – either a safe plastic or glass – so that it’s easy to see what’s inside. This could help keep food fresh because you’ll be able to see and quickly recall when you had the original meal that the leftovers came from.
Avoid food containers that have:
- Plastic with the recycling numbers 3, 6 and 7, which are considered unsafe for storing food.
- Scratches or other signs that it’s been used over a long period of time.
- Flimsy lids that can easily pop off, which can result in a mess or with the food spoiling.
- Styrofoam, which has also been found to contain chemicals that could contaminate food.
To ensure that you’re eating fresh food that hasn’t spoiled, consider getting heavy duty, reusable food storage labels. Look for labels that can withstand the cold temperatures of the freezer, the heat of the microwave and the power of the dishwasher. These labels will come in handy especially if you have a full house with many hands in the refrigerator and mouths to feed.
The Fun Part: Where to Buy It
The awareness of harmful chemicals making their way into food through storage containers has created a huge demand for safer plastic and glass containers. Manufacturers responded, and there are now many options for safe food containers.
Pulling It All Together: Healthy Meals in Safe Containers
Once you’ve found healthy meals that you’d enjoy eating and the storage containers that work best for you, you can keep the following fresh:
- Sliced fruit
- Leftovers from previous dinners or lunches
- Make-ahead meals and side dishes
Or, you can microwave in glass containers:
- Soups or stews
- Hot meals like a turkey or chicken dinner with rice
- Drinks such as coffee or tea
Have questions about finding healthy meal plans that are right for you? Click here to schedule a consultation.