When I first started really using my freezer as a tool instead of a space filler, I had quite a few questions about how to best freeze meals, what could be frozen and for how long, etc. After a few years of preparing freezer meals and doing reading about what to freeze, I figured it would be a beneficial post to write. Here are some quick tips and suggestions for freezing foods. I call it Freezer meal basics. At the bottom, you will find a timeline of how long you can expect your frozen foods to stay good in the freezer. These are things I keep in mind for my Top 5 Freezer meals and my 10 Fall Freezer meals.
1. Freeze broths, soups, sauces, and other liquids flat in freezer bags. When they are frozen, you can stand them upright along the side of the freezer to save room. They take up less space and they will thaw much faster.
2. You can freeze butter for up to 8 months. Just freeze it in the original packaging, placed in a freezer bag. When you are ready to use it, you can safely thaw it on the counter. Or, keep it in the refrigerator.
3. If there is a great sale on baking products, but you don’t want them to go bad before using them, you can put many of them in the freezer. Chocolate chips, flour, nuts, dried fruit, butter, marshmallows, and cream cheese will keep well in the freezer until you are ready use them. Max of about 6 months.
4. Your freezer should be below 0 degrees Fahrenheit. The faster the food freezes, the smaller the ice crystals. This means less change in texture and better quality when thawed. (You didn’t know it was such a science, did you)
5. To thaw frozen meat, poultry, seafood, and casseroles, place in the refrigerator 24-48 hours or until completely thawed. For fast thawing, seal frozen food in an airtight bag and cover with cold water in the sink. Change water every 30 minutes until food is completely thawed.
6. To avoid freezer burn, double wrap in heavy duty foil and invest in freezer safe containers. Remove as much air as possible from freezer bags by using a straw to suck out air.
BEST IF USED BY……
Tomato and vegetable sauces (6 months)
Muffins and quick breads (2-3 months)
Poultry and meat casseroles (6 months)
Soups and stews (2-3 months)
Meatballs (6 months)
Pizza dough (3-4 weeks)
Cooked Poultry with no sauce (3 months)
Cooked Poultry with sauce or gravy (6 months)