Prepping food beforehand is a great way to save time, money and calories! When you make your own foods, pack and bring them with you, you tend to eat healthier than if you were to buy your food at every meal. The freezer is a great way to prolong the life of fresh fruits and vegetables if it’s done properly. Check out the following tips to help make sure you get the most out of your freezer meals.
Before you get started on this journey, make sure you have the proper freezing tools! What’s the point in even making freezer meals if you don’t have the necessary means to freeze it! Make sure you’ve got lots of parchment paper, plastic wrap, aluminum foil, freezer-safe packaging and a permanent marker to labeling and dating your meals. Clean baking sheets and mixing bowls on hand are useful also for the food preparation part of this all.
Know Your Method
Once you have the supplies handy, it’s time to put them to good use. The first big mistake most often used by people is thinking that all resealable bags are freezer friendly. You need to buy the ones that are specifically made for the freezer – check that label. Here’s a tip for you – if you’re freezing casseroles and frozen pizzas, wrap them in plastic wrap before you freeze them in a container to help ward off freezer burn.
Sometimes when food gets frozen, it looks a little different. It’s important to mark down the date, what’s inside and how many servings, just so you don’t unthaw something you didn’t mean to. It also helps prevent waiting too long to eat something that could potentially go bad.
Know Which Foods to Freeze
Some foods simply cannot be frozen. Sorry! I know, it kind of sucks. Things like custards, mayo, yogurt, cream cheese, sour cream or cakes that have frosting on them aren’t exactly freezer friendly. When these foods thaw, they end up having a very strange consistency… or just taste incredibly awful.
Let Food Thaw in The Fridge
Letting your food defrost in the fridge is the safest way to do it. When you let food thaw on the counter, it lowers to room temperature, a perfect temperature for bacteria growth! If you’re in a hurry, you can thaw the food (wrapped up) in a bowl of cold water. Or if you’re really in a bind, use the microwave on the “defrost” setting and remove all aluminum foil or plastic wrap that isn’t microwave friendly.
Refreezing Can Be Dangerous
If you take food out of the refrigerator for a few minutes that’s not a big deal. As long as the food still has ice crystals on it, it can be returned to the freezer no problem. But when you let meat thaw completely and then return it to the freezer, that’s when it becomes problematic. Bacteria can thaw on the meat in less than an hour of being thawed.
Use Your Ice Cube Trays
Using your ice cube trays for stuff besides ice is another little handy trick to keep in your back pocket. Use ice cube trays to freeze pasta sauce, pesto, or even herbed oil! You can pop out however much you need, whenever you want to use it. If you use more than what’s given in an ice cube tray, you could use a mini muffin tin too – the options are really endless.
Use A Baking Sheet
When you’re trying to freeze some moist food, it’s best to lay it flat so that it doesn’t freeze in clumps. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, lay whatever it is that you’re freezing flat on the pan and make sure they’re not touching. Place the baking sheet level in the freezer and when the pieces are frozen individually, you can put them in a freezer friendly container together. If you need to grab a few pieces here and there, they won’t be all stuck together!
Did you know – frozen veggies don’t need to be thawed before you cook them! If the veggies are thawed, they will become soggy when you cook them (ew). If they are frozen at the peak of their ripeness, they will also keep their nutrition value! Frozen veggies are a great way to go if you find you can’t eat all of your fresh veggies before they go bad.
Frozen fruit makes the best smoothies! If you love having smoothies for breakfast, fill some freezer bags with frozen fruit and veggies, as well as some Greek yogurt, label it and throw it in your freezer! Then, in the mornings, you can throw a whole thing into the blender, add some almond milk and you’ll be good to go!