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Every article on Google, Pinterest, and video on YouTube about meal prep has some (or multiple) pasta recipes. Sometimes it seems like people who meal prep only ever eat pasta. While that’s probably not true, it is one of the simplest meal prep foods. So how do you meal-prep pasta?
- How to Meal Prep Pasta: 8 Easy Steps
- How Long Can You Keep Pasta in the Refrigerator?
- How Long Can You Freeze Pasta Meal Prep?
- How to Reheat Pasta From Meal Prep
How to Meal Prep Pasta: 8 Easy Steps
Meal prepping pasta is super easy. Whether you cook ahead for the week or the month, it can make your life easier, save time during weeknight dinners, and you will always have yummy, comforting, homemade food.
Follow my simple method to meal prepping pasta recipes:
Step 1: Boil Your pasta
Once you figure out what pasta you want to make, cook it according to the instructions on the package. You want to stop boiling it once it is al dente. Cooking it till it is soft can result in mushy pasta later. Here are my favorite tips to ensure you don’t overcook your pasta:
- Set a timer for when your pasta should stop cooking.
- Strain the pasta and immediately rinse it through cold water
- Then drizzle some olive oil and stir it to ensure the pasta doesn’t stick together.
Step 2: Cook Your Meat of Choice
While your pasta is boiling, start up your meat or chicken. Whether you use ground beef, chicken breast, or shredded steak, get that cooking according to your liking or the recipe you follow. This way, you know that the meat will be ready when all your other ingredients are prepared too.
My special tip: I always keep a batch of cooked ground, cubed, and shredded meat and chicken in the freezer. That way, anytime I need it for a recipe, specifically with meal prep, I can take it from the freezer before cooking. That saves me additional time, and I have one less step to do and less to clean up when I’m done.
Step 3: Get Your Sauce Going
The next thing you want to get going is your pasta sauce. Depending on the pasta and recipe, you could make a red sauce, a white sauce (roux), an alfredo sauce, pesto sauce, and the list is endless. If you need to cook something, start it while your pasta and meat are cooking. If it’s only a few ingredients that you need to add together, mix them up and set the sauce aside.
My next special tip: I prefer to batch-cook my most used pasta sauces that can be frozen. I freeze my meal prep recipes in freezer-safe Ziploc bags and remove them when I want to meal prep pasta. That way, they are ready to go, and it’s another thing less I have to do.
A little secret: Sometimes, I purchase a bunch of different readymade pasta sauces. I keep them in my pantry for when my freezer batch of pasta sauces is finished. It is the simplest way to get a bunch of cooking done with minimal effort.
Step 4: Prepare Your Veggies
At this point, you want to start prepping all your veggies. Wash and cut the vegetables you will use in each pasta and set it aside. You can add mushrooms, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, bell peppers, and so many more to your pasta for meal prep. They also freeze well.
My third special tip: To save time or make meal prep easier (or when I am just feeling lazy), I purchase precut veggies. That way, I don’t have to stand and cut a bunch of veggies, and everything is ready when I need it.
If your veggies need frying or sauteing, you can do that now. Don’t overcook them if your dish will be warmed in the oven before serving.
Step 5: Mix Your Pasta Ingredients
For pasta recipes that require you to toss all your ingredients together, you can do that once all your ingredients are ready and cooked. That would include your pasta of choice, sauces, veggies, and meat. You can also stir in some cheese.
If you will be placing this pasta in the refrigerator for a few days, put it into an airtight container or your Pyrex dish and cover it with plastic wrap and foil. When you want to reheat your meal prep, place it in the microwave or oven (remove any plastic), and your pasta is ready to be served.
Step 6: Get Your Containers Ready
When freezing pasta, always use freezer-safe airtight foil trays/containers. Depending on how much pasta you cooked, lay the containers out and dish the pasta equally into each container. Seal it well with plastic wrap before you close the lids for extra protection.
My fourth special tip: I prefer to heat my meal prep pasta in the oven and always use foil trays to freeze it. That way, I have fewer dishes to wash because the foil tray is oven-safe. I cover the foil tray in plastic wrap for extra protection from freezer burn.
Step 7: Layer Your Dish
If you are meal-prepping pasta casseroles or lasagna and your dish needs layering. Remember to do this while all your containers are laid out and ready. That way, you put an equal amount in each container/tray. Always let your pasta cool before closing and packaging it.
Step 8: Freeze Your Pasta
If you want to freeze your pasta:
- Label each pack with the date of preparation.
- Once your pasta is cooled down, place it in the freezer.
- Avoid keeping pasta in the freezer for more than a couple of months.
How Long Can You Keep Pasta in the Refrigerator?
If you prepare meals for the week, you may not need to freeze pasta. Store it in the fridge for 3-5 days. It is preferable to consume it within three days, especially if your sauces contain milk or cream. To ensure that your meal prep won’t go bad, it is also better to only add cheese before serving if you don’t freeze your pasta. Place your meal prep pasta in the freezer after 3-4 days if you don’t plan to use it.
How Long Can You Freeze Pasta Meal Prep?
Place your meal prep pasta in the freezer for up to 2 months. You can drag it to 3 months at most. While your pasta might still be safe for 6-8 months in the freezer, it will not taste fresh and lose many flavors. It may also dry out. For best results, stick to a couple of months, and remember to label your pasta before freezing it.
How to Reheat Pasta From Meal Prep
If your meal prep pasta is in the refrigerator, warm it in the oven or microwave. I have even heated pasta in the air fryer before. If you want to reheat your frozen pasta, here is what you can do:
- Remove it from the freezer at least 4 hours before heating.
- Remove any plastic wrappings.
- Before placing it in the oven, remove the lid of the foil tray.
- Cover it with foil.
- Bake it in the oven for 30-40 minutes or until done. And fully warmed through.
If your pasta is in plastic or glass dishes, you can warm it in the microwave. I have repeatedly heated my meal prep pasta in the oven directly from the fridge. I simply switch the oven on and place the pasta inside. That way, it defrosts as the oven heats. It takes about an hour to 90 minutes until the pasta is properly heated and cooked and the cheese is melted deliciously.
You may understand why the meal prep side of the internet is in favor of pasta now. It is super easy to prepare (especially with all my special tips), and so many variations exist. You will always have ideas and tasty, homemade comfort food that takes little time to serve.
Nathaniel Lee is an avid cook, drawing on his decades of home cooking and fine dining experience. He is a contributing chef at Mashed, and his recipes and contributions have been featured in Tasting Table, Edible Arrangements, Insanely Good Recipes, and The Daily Meal.