Freezer Meal Tips
Use your food processor to slice/dice up a large portion of onions. Freeze them in small freezer zip bags and have them ready to add to spaghetti, burgers, or anything else you make.
Do you always have tomato paste leftover? Most recipes call for just a tablespoon. Don't throw the rest away. Freeze in ice cube trays and after frozen pop them out and put in freezer zip bags and store in your freezer. Now you will always have some to throw into your sauces.
Hosting a holiday brunch or dinner? Plan your menus several weeks earlier and make things ahead of time. Egg bakes, mashed potatoes, breads, and many other things can be frozen. You won't have the last minute rushing and stressing. Need help on knowing if it will survive the freezer? Ask us. Need some great recipe ideas or want to try something new? We have 2 great cookbooks that can help!
Make up a big batch of pancakes or waffles. What your family does not eat, freeze to use throughout the week. Individual servings can be put in the toaster for a quick breakfast during the hectic week.
Make sure that you label and date your meals that are headed to the freezer. Also, include cooking time and temperature. Permanent markers work well for this.
If you have leftover fresh herbs from a meal that you make, don't let it wilt away in the fridge. Chop them and put them in ice cube trays and cover them with olive oil and freeze. Pop them out and store in the freezer in a freezer bag and use them the next time you need that herb.
Before freezing hot food, it's important to let it cool down. If not allowed to cool the food will fail to freeze uniformly. Outer edges of hot food will freeze quickly while the inside might not cool in time to freeze safely.
Desserts are a great thing to have on hand in the freezer. You never know when a special guest will show up or when a craving will hit. Many cakes, cupcakes, brownies and bars will do great in the freezer and thaw quickly. Cut them before freezing to make last minute serving even easier.
It is not safe to thaw raw meat and then refreeze it without first cooking it to a safe temp. This can cause bacteria growth and can be unhealthy for you and your family! If making a freezer meal it is safer to buy meat that has not been previously frozen if you don't plan on cooking fully before freezing the meal.
Next time you make taco meat, get the 3# package of meat, brown all 3 pounds and add your taco seasoning. Put what you need for your dinner in a bowl, and freeze the extra in a freezer bag for your next taco night!
If freezing a meal with pasta or rice, it is best to under cook the pasta or rice before freezing in the dish. They can get mushy if fully cooked before freezing.
Make ahead crockpot meals are even easier than ever when you use a crockpot liner. Place all your ingredients in the crockpot liner and seal it with a rubber band. Then, put the liner into a freezer bag to freeze. Don’t forget to label it! When you are ready to use your meal, all you have to do is take it out of the freezer bag, place the liner into your crockpot and turn it on.
Can't remember what meals are in your freezer? Keep a list of what is inside and date it was placed in freezer. As the item is used cross it off the list. For convenience hang the list on or near the freezer.
Place unfrozen foods in the coldest part of your freezer to help them freeze faster, and preserve the foods freshness. The coldest parts are usually the back or directly on the freezer shelf (not stacked on top of other food items.)
Looking for ways to get a hot breakfast despite busy mornings? Gather a few friends and make a large quantity of breakfast burritos. Organizing an assembly line helps it go fast. You could even have you kids help. These are tasty and heat in microwave for 2 minutes.
When making freezer meals like casseroles note that green pepper may change the flavor. Clove garlic, and pepper flavors get stronger when frozen. Items like sage, onion and salt become more mild.
Smoothie kits that you find in the frozen food section are expensive and often contain extra sodium, sugar or preservatives. You can make your own smoothie kits by buy adding fresh fruits, honey, berries and juices in whatever combination you like and freeze in quart size freezer bags. When you are craving a smoothie add in 1/2-1 cup yogurt and 1/4 milk into the blender along with your "smoothie mix" and you are set. Look for fruits you enjoy and buy them when they are on sale. You can adjust your preferred level of sweetness. Sometimes just a splash of juice is sweet enough. You can also save more money by washing out your bags and reusing them.
Poorly wrapped foods run the risk of developing freezer burn and/or unpleasant odors from other foods in your freezer. By following these 4 simple wrapping & container tips you can ensure the quality and safety of your food:
- Use only specialty freezer wrappings - They should be both moisture-proof and vapor-proof.
- Leave as little air as possible in the packages and containers. When freezing liquids in containers, allow a small amount of head room for expansion. When using freezer bags, be sure to remove as much air as possible before closing.
- Wrap solids foods like meats and baked goods tightly in foil before you bag them.
- Use rigid containers with an air-tight lid and keep the sealing edge free from moisture or food to ensure proper closure.
- Double bag all freezer meals or double cover all meals in containers to help preserve your food and help prevent freezer burn.
Do you ever find that you have made too much mashed potatoes? Freeze what you don't eat in muffin cups. Once they are frozen, pop them out out and store in freezer bags. During busy times, pull out as many servings as you need and reheat in the microwave.
Have extra cupcakes from a birthday party? Flash freeze them (place them in the freezer uncovered for about an hour) then put them in a freezer bag for when you need a special treat for the kids (or yourself)! Flash freezing prevents the frosting from getting mushed when you put them in the freezer bag.
Buy meats in bulk when they are on sale. You can freeze the extra and use for many different meals like quiches, casseroles, breakfast bakes and soups. If hamburger is on sale, buy extra plus some taco seasoning and whip up a large batch of taco meat, divide it up into smaller batches that your family would eat for one meal and freezer in a freezer bag. Now it's all ready for a busy night quick meal.
If hamburger is on sale, buy extra, plus some taco seasoning (or use our wonderful homemade taco seasoning recipe in our cookbook) and whip up a large batch of taco meat, divide it up into smaller batches that your family would eat for one meal and freezer in a freezer bag. Now it's all ready for a busy night quick meal.
Leftover vegetables from a holiday feast? Veggies are great for freezing. Put any leftover veggies in a freezable container or freezer bag. When it's full you have the beginnings of a vegetable soup! Just use canned broth to make it super quick.
Have a whole chicken of beef bones you don't know what to do with? Put it in a big soup pot, cover it with water, add any extra veggies in your fridge and some whole peppercorns and make some homemade broth. Freeze the broth in mason jars (leaving some room in the jar for expansion). Pull out jars anytime you need broth for a recipe.