By: Jodie Shield, RD
So many of you told me how much you enjoyed my Last-Minute Lasagna recipe. It’s one of my favorites, too. But several of you asked, “What’s the best way to freeze foods so they taste fresh?” Your wish is my command. Here are some “how-to-freeze” pointers from an old cookbook I love written by Kelly Machel. It’s called Month of Meals: One Day to a Freezer Full of Entrees (KRM de la KRM Publishing, 1997).
- Use freezer-friendly containers. To save time, invest in cookware like casserole dishes or glass pans that go straight from the freezer into the oven. Or purchase sturdy, plastic containers and freezer bags designed especially for the microwave.
- Label meals carefully. Include the contents of the container, the date the food was made, and the last date it should be eaten. This will help you find what you’re looking for, because all meals can look alike when they’re frozen.
- Freeze fast for the best taste and quality. But make sure you let foods cool down before putting them into the freezer. Placing hot food items next to foods that are already frozen can partially thaw the frozen ones.
- Follow freezing guidelines. Many foods (meatballs, hamburger patties, poultry, and soups) freeze well and can be frozen for up to three months. Some foods (casseroles, pasta, and shrimp) should be undercooked before freezing so they’re not overcooked when you reheat them. Other foods (raw potatoes, canned ham, and Canadian bacon) don’t freeze well at all. The USDA has several facts sheets that can provide you with more in depth information about freezing specific foods as well as food safety guidelines,
Freezer-friendly meals are perfect for nights when all you have time to do is heat and eat. If you prepare them yourself, you can use healthier ingredients such as reduced-fat cheese and lean meat which will trim fat and calories. What are some of your favorite meals that you like to keep in the freezer?