Do This Before Storing Food That Was Cooked Sous Vide

Meal prep is incredibly popular these days for a lot of reasons. It's more convenient and time-efficient to cook everything you need for a week at once than cooking three-plus meals every day. Not only that, but it allows you to have healthy, homemade dishes ready to just pop in the microwave or oven whenever you get hungry — you'll be less likely to order Thai takeout for the ninth day in a row (your waistline and your wallet will thank you).

While you might think of meal prep as consisting of oven-baked casseroles and grilled meat prepared en masse, you can cook your food in large batches using any method, including sous vide. The popular technique, which involves cooking your food in a water bath, is just as viable for meal prep as any other. However, there is one step you shouldn't skip if you're cooking sous vide ahead of time. Here's what you need to know before you fire up the cooker.

Chill the food before you put it in the fridge

It may be easy to take your bags of cooked meat and veggies right from the sous vide cooker to the fridge, but it isn't necessarily the smartest idea. Nor is letting the food sit out on the counter to cool before storing it. Instead, your best — and safest — bet is to put the food immediately into an ice bath. This quickly cools the food, reducing the risk of harmful bacteria contaminating it. "For food safety reasons you should always chill the core of food that has been cooked sous vide to 5C/40F or less in less than 2 hours," Stefan's Gourmet Blog explains. This is especially true for thicker items, like a big slab of steak, because it will take so much longer for the center to cool.

As for why you shouldn't just put it in the fridge? Sticking hot food in the refrigerator can raise the fridge's interior temperature, thus potentially ruining other food inside, Polyscience Culinary warns. No thank you.