This can be beneficial if done right but it has its downsides too. While cookbook author Sharmila Ribeiro had mentioned in an earlier interview about how to find the balance, nutritionist Deepalekha Banerjee and Ashok Eapen, Executive Chef, The Residency Towers, share their valuable inputs to Arpitha Rao.
Plan your meals in advance
Work takes priority in many youngsters’ lives and if you’re not left with much time to cook during the weekdays, utilise your off days to plan meals for the rest of the week. While shopping for groceries, buying different sets of ingredients for each day of the week will ensure you consume a balanced diet and will make your plate seem colourful and appetising. Making Buddha bowls or prepping for salads in advance shouldn’t take much time; likewise, make and keep essentials like chapati dough, dal, pancake/dosa batter, curd and chutneys and dips ready in the fridge.
Store food in the right boxes
Awareness about the harms of plastic is increasing today. So while storing your food, steer clear of plastics, especially takeaway containers. Glass is a much safer option but ensure it has an air-tight lid. If you use half of the food stored in it, don’t put it back in the fridge as such, but transfer to a smaller container — doing so reduces exposure to air that can contaminate the food. Also, if you’re planning your meal in advance and creating five boxes for each day of the week, labelling them helps stay more organised.
Keep the bacteria at bay
In most hotels, two methods of healthy storage are practised — freshly and fully cooked food is refrigerated within four hours of its making and once in the fridge, it is kept where it can be seen. While dishes like rasam won’t spoil easily, curries or gravies tend to spoil faster. So if you’re storing them in the fridge, ensure it’s cooled within 3-4 hours of cooking. If it doesn’t cool down fast enough, placing the dish in an ice bath (vessel filled with ice) will help. Also, people tend to forget food stored inside the fridge, especially if it’s in small boxes. It’s best to keep leftovers right in front so you won’t lose track and chance upon rotten food weeks later.
Never reheat full portions
This is the most important rule — if you’re heating a subzi or rice, take out only the portion required and it can be safely reheated in the microwave (in a glass dish). At the same time, if you want to heat some curry or sambar from a bowlful, transfer the portion you need into a smaller vessel and boil it over the stove. Once you’ve finished eating, if there’s any food remaining in the reheated vessel, throw it away. Do not mix it with the rest in the fridge as it will contaminate and spoil the food. Also, if you feel tired of eating the same leftovers like idlis or softened papad, turn them around creatively into new dishes like fried idlis or papad curry.