Cooking meals ahead of time and freezing them lets you save time and still serve a hot, homemade meal each night. Freezing foods prevents spoilage, because bacteria can't grow at very cold temperatures. However, don't use just any container for that casserole or pot of stew. Wrapping meals properly before storing them in the freezer ensures they'll be delicious when you reheat them weeks or months later. Careful storage also makes it easier to remove and reheat meals from the freezer.
Wrap meat, pizza and other solid items in freezer wrap, such as freezer paper or freezer aluminum foil. Don't wrap food with regular cellophane or butcher paper; it won't insulate food well enough in the freezer. Apply a dry rub, such as paprika, pepper, ranch seasoning mix and cumin, before freezing to allow the rub to flavor the meat when you're ready to thaw it. Seal wrapped items tightly with freezer tape and label them clearly with a permanent marker, indicating the item and date.
Place liquids, such as soups, and small solid items, such as cookies, in plastic freezer bags. Use gallon- or quart-sized bags, depending on the item and serving size. Remove the air before sealing the bag. Label bags clearly before freezing. Fill plastic freezer bags so they can stack flat on top of each other in the freezer.
Separate large dishes, such as casseroles or lasagna, into single-serving rigid plastic containers before freezing. This makes it easier to reheat a small portion of a dish. Label containers clearly before freezing, and make sure the containers are completely sealed before putting them in the freezer.
Items you will need
- Freezer paper
- Freezer tape
- Permanent marker
- Freezer bags
- Rigid plastic containers
Like This Article? Let Us Know!
- Your freezer works best if it's almost full, so fill up empty space in your freezer with ice packs or other cold items.
- Make sure your freezer is kept at 0 degrees Fahrenheit or colder.
- If your power goes out, don't open the freezer door. A full freezer will stay cold through most short power outages.
- Don't freeze items in wax paper, take-out containers, ice cream cartons or other cardboard containers. Food will develop freezer burn in these containers.
- Always defrost frozen food in the refrigerator or microwave, or in cold water. Don't defrost food in hot water or on the counter.
- Don't freeze water-based fruits and vegetables, such as peaches and lettuce.
- Don't refreeze items once they thaw unless you have cooked them again.
- Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images