Making your own frozen meals not only saves you money and time, but it’s healthier and more flavorful option. Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind when you are freezing food for your weekly meals.
Some foods freeze better than others
There are some foods that simply don’t freeze all that well but if they’re part of a cooked dish you can get away with it. It’s best to avoid some foods for freezing though. Potatoes don’t freeze successfully, and pasta is best cooked fresh. Rice freezes well on its own, but can go soggy if frozen as part of a dish.
Don’t even try to freeze eggs in the shell or food from a can. It can be dangerous. Most of the other freezing no-no’s are safe to freeze, but just lose too much quality to make it worthwhile. Don’t’ bother trying to freeze salad vegetables – they turn to mush. Fried or greasy foods also go horribly soggy.
Creamy sauces may separate while frozen
Creamy sauces, and any sauce containing starch or oil, such as mayonnaise, may separate and curdle. Freezing can alter flavorings, either diluting them or strengthening them. You will also find that green vegetables may lose some of their color.
Stews and casseroles are a freezer’s best friend
Stews and casseroles, soups, pasta sauces and pies (or pie fillings) are just some of the meals that are perfect for freezing in advance. For stews and casseroles, all you need to do is put it in containers and freeze. As a rule of thumb, the faster things freeze the better, since this helps maintain texture and flavour. Check your refrigerator manual to see if you have a ‘fast freeze’ shelf.
Airtight containers are a must for freezing food
For the best results, you need to try to freeze foods in conditions that are as airtight as possible. Frozen foods, especially meats, are vulnerable to freezer burn, where it dries out and looks grey and leathery. Proper packing helps to prevent this problem.
Stackable plastic containers are one option for freezing foods, but it is recommended that you fill them as full as possible. You can also cover the exposed top surface with plastic cling wrap. Plastic freezer bags are designed for the purpose, and make it easier to squeeze out any remaining air. Ziploc and similar freezer bags are useful for creating an airtight seal.
Remember this when cooking food to freeze
Remember that when reheating your freezer meal, you are effectively cooking the food further. When cooking food to freeze, for some dishes it’s always best to err on the side of slightly undercooked to compensate for this. Once you’ve experimented with freezing meals you’ll soon get a handle on what works and what doesn’t.
With a full freezer of home-made meals that just need warming up, mealtimes are quick and easy. Choose the right recipes and there will be no loss of quality at all.