Freezing food is a great way to keep delicious meals alive! After all, when frozen, most foods can last up to two to three months. However, not all foods do well in the freezer. And even if a dish can handle the freezer, you still need to follow these steps to ensure your leftovers will be just as tasty and nutritious as the original meal. Don't make the common mistake that can ruin your leftovers.
First things first: Let the food cool. Putting hot food in the freezer could cause some of the other items in the freezer to thaw and then re-freeze, which will affect their taste.
Pick the right container: Make sure you use containers, bags and wraps that are designed for the freezer and are thick enough to contain moisture and keep freezer odors out. Be sure to squeeze all the excess air out of the container before sealing it. And then don't forget to label the container with the day's date!
Serving Size: Store dishes in small portions so that when you re-heat them, you have just enough to eat.
Temperature: Make sure your freezer is at 0 degrees Fahrenheit or cooler for maximum freezing ability.
Room to Breathe: One of the most common mistakes that people make is overcrowding the freezer. You need to space out the items in the freezer so that they have enough air to freeze as quickly as possible. The faster a dish freezes, the better.
Defrost: Defrost foods either in the refrigerator or in the microwave. Try to avoid defrosting at room temperature to steer clear of contamination. In the fridge, allow approximately five hours per pound of food for defrosting.
Enjoy: Once your food has defrosted, you can re-cook it or toss it in the microwave, and then it's ready to eat!
Casserole, soup, stew, chili, meatloaf, cake, bread and the like tend to be freezer-friendly foods. However, some foods do NOT freeze well. These include:
Sauces thickened with cornstarch or flour
Fruits and vegetables with a high water content
Fully cooked pasta
Some dairy products
Be sure to know what food will work in the freezer and then follow the steps above to achieve leftover success! And remember, don't overcrowd your freezer!
For more freezing information, take a look at these Baked Good You Can Freeze For Later!