The freezer is one of my favorite ‘tools’ in the kitchen. It helps me cut down on food waste and it enables me to whip up multiple meals without having to run to the store. I’ve compiled my best freezer tips and tricks so you can make the most of your freezer and food!
I store two main groups in the freezer:
- Leftovers for easy reheat and eat meals
- Ingredients (veggies, fruit, meat)
How Long Can It Be Frozen?
Although, technically, food keeps in the freezer indefinitely and is safe to eat, but that does not mean it will retain its quality and taste good. It’s important to check for signs of freezer burn. Freezer burnt foods will be covered in frost. This frost remove moisture from the food. Although the food is safe to east, it will lack the proper flavor and texture.
Pretty much any food will retain its quality and taste for 3 months, and most are good for 6 months.
If the food item was well packaged, is in the coldest part of your freezer (hint, not the door), and has no signs of freezer burn, then it should be just fine for 6 months.
- Wait for items to cool before freezing. If you’re storing prepared foods in the freezer, you don’t want to put them in the freezer still warm. It will cause a rise in temperature in the entire freezer.
- Store items as airtight as possible. Using a vacuum sealer is a great option. If you’re using regular ziptop freezer bags, then be sure to press out any extra air. The exception to this is for liquids. For soups and other liquids, you need to leave a little extra space as the liquid will expand as it freezes.
- The Freezer works best when it’s filled, but don’t over pack it. Air needs to circulate among the food so the temperature can be properly maintained.
- Utilize parchment paper, aluminum foil, and wax paper to divide items that might stick together.
- Flash freeze food on a baking sheet before transferring to a bag or container to keep items from sticking. This trick is especially helpful when freezing fruit or other water/liquid heavy items. If you go straight to freezing in a bag then everything will freeze in one giant chunk.
- Label everything! Of all the freezer tips, it can be tempting to skip this one but it’s so helpful! Write what the item is and the date you’re freezing it – bonus points for writing a ‘best if eaten by’ date. I also like to write down the quantity or number of servings.
- Once food has been defrosted, do not re-freeze. You need to eat it or cook it. The exception would if you defrost raw meat, then cook it. You can then refreeze the now cooked meat.
- Never defrost in a warm place. Defrosting in the fridge is always your best bet. You will need to plan ahead as many items will need to defrost overnight. If you’re in a rush, you can defrost in a bowl of cold water, but you’ll want to cook the food immediately after defrosting.
- When defrosting meat, place it on a plate or try. This will catch any raw meat juices. It’s also a good idea to place the plate at the bottom of the fridge to avoid contaminating other food.
My Freezer Recipes:
Mango Orange Smoothie – You can use all frozen fruit in this smoothie recipe. Included are instructions to prep smoothie packs!
Chicken Noodle Soup! Either made in the Instant Pot or Slow Cooker. When making a batch for the freezer, I recommend leaving the noodles out. The noodles can become mushy, so instead freeze the noodle-less soup. Then when you’re ready to eat, thaw the soup and cook the noodles separately and combine.
Slow Cooker Pork Ragu. Freeze the ragu sauce. Then just thaw, reheat, and cook up some pasta for an easy family dinner.
Extra Moist Banana Bread. This recipe makes two loaves – eat one now and freeze one for later.
Healthy Oatmeal Cookie Bars. Individually wrap the bars for an easy grab, reheat, and go snack or even breakfast!