By definition, meal prepping is the process of planning and preparing whole meals in advance. Meal prep saves time and hassle by reducing time spent cooking into one big slot. Both companies and consumers alike can benefit from meal prepping, and some busy families find that frozen or refrigerated pre-prepared meals last ideally throughout the week. Caterers can massively benefit from meal prep management, as bulks of pre-prepared dishes can be served without fresh ingredients.
Is meal prepping as a caterer as simple as preparing plenty of stew and storing it in plastic stacking bins? Not quite. You need to consider a few things, including portion sizes, how to refrigerate your prep legally, and the best methods to reheating your food when it’s time to serve. Here is your guide on how to meal prep for a company.
Choose Your Menu
As expected, the first step to successful meal prep is choosing what you’re going to make! Some foods reheat more successfully than others, so try to consider individual ingredients in your recipes and how they’ll taste. Potatoes are well known to change texture after resting, so focus your meal prep on dishes with plenty of moisture. Curries, soups and stir-fries are an excellent place to start.
Determine Your Demand
Before you can dive into your ingredient bins and get started with your cooking, you need to determine how many portions of each dish you’ll need. As a caterer, you should have been given an idea of the number of people you’re feeding. A top tip, though, you’re better having too much food than too little, so it may be sensible to plan and allow for a couple of spare portions.
Cook Your Meals
This is the part that should come most naturally to you as a caterer! You’ve got your dish planned, so prepare your ingredients and combine them. Depending on how you’re going to reheat the portions once you’re serving them, you may undercook vegetables by two or three minutes so they don’t turn soggy. Include as much of the dish as you can in this cooking session, so you’ll have less to do later.
Store Your Prep
Depending on how far in advance you’ve prepared your meals, you’re going to need to refrigerate or freeze your containers. You’ve got to comply with the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and their guidance on bulk freezing and refrigerating temperature requirements. Failure to do so could result in the closure of your business, or at the very least, a poor score on your food hygiene ratings.
Transport Your Meals
The FSA also guides your steps for the safe transport of your meals. Since your meal prep is to be consumed on other company premises, you’ve got to be able to guarantee that it’ll arrive without contamination. Make use of your food grade tapered bins, and securely position every container during travel. Don’t leave your food unattended for any time, and remember that you can only keep your portions at room temperature for so long. Use refrigerated or freezer trucks for longer journeys.
Reheat Your Dishes
When the time comes to serve your pre-prepared meals, you’ll have to allow time for full defrosting when your portions have been kept in the freezer. Equally, your refrigerated dishes need to be reheated before they’ve been sat in ambient conditions for two hours. If you aren’t reheating the dishes for yourself, you’ll need to provide instructions on safely reheating meal prep to any company you’re providing for.
For further advice on suitably storing your meal prep, and any ingredients you’re utilising, feel free to contact us at Onit Direct.