This is my second post for National Frozen Food Month! If my grandma knows I make freezer friendly meals, she would probably turn in her grave. Like many of us, I was brought up on fresh cooked food everyday and while that worked well in the past, it does not for me now. I have nothing against fresh food. I love fresh food and cook for my family quite regularly. But, I also dip into my freezer for an emergency when I need and bring out a healthy frozen dish which is preservative free and not loaded with sodium like most frozen dinners are. Working mom with 2 kids and a husband who are always hungry I need all the help I can get to make sure they get healthy meals at least 75% of the time. So, I sometimes rely on home frozen meals which are healthier than choosing fast food. When I cook certain dishes, I freeze a small portion and on the days when I come home too tired to cook, I zip one of my lifesaving frozen dishes out the freezer and in minutes, I am able to put a healthy meal on the table. Everyone’s happy including the Nutritionist mom! Sharing with you some of my tried and trusted tips.
Foods that do not freeze well
Salads : Never freeze salads or even use frozen veggies for the salad. Exception are bean salads. Those taste quite good when you defrost.
Eggs : Cooked eggs will have a leather like taste when you defrost. This includes meringue. Raw egg on the other hand, freeze quite well. I saw this tip on pinterest where you freeze uncooked eggs with veggies in a muffin tray and take out as needed and bake.
Potatoes : Taste crumbly and watery when you defrost. Mashed potatoes seem to be ok, but I still don’t like freezing them.
Any sauce that is milk based: May curdle during freezing and not taste good.
Anything fried : They would become quite soggy and lose crispness.
Sour Cream : Add it to the dish after defrosting.
Plain Pasta : loses flavor and becomes soggy. Pasta mixed in a dish like lasagna freeze quite well.
Foods you can safely freeze :
lasagna, quiche, soups , casseroles, pot pies, cooked veggie dishes, lentil bean dishes, cooked meat dishes, Pizza with all the toppings, meat loaf, baked goods, french toast, pancakes etc.
Freeze friendly tips
Use microwaveable glass or plastic which are also freezer friendly. I prefer glass unless the plastic is free of BPA. Since I am all for recycling and going green, I prefer glass.
Use those fancy plastic storage systems that suck all the air out. I have one myself but have rarely used it since I haven’t mastered the art of using it effectively.
You could also use freezer safe ziplocs. You could get the same effect as those fancy systems by zipping it partially and then sticking a straw into it and sucking the air out and then zipping it fully.
When using glass or plastic containers leave a little gap between the food and the top to allow for expansion of air.
If you are cooking just for freezing, under cook the meal a little. Storing in the freezer always cooks the meal a little so allow for that. This tip is not practical if you are freezing a portion of what you have already cooked.
Completely cool the food before you freeze it to prevent bacterial contamination. Bacteria can grow when the outside of food freezes while the inside remains warm so beware of that.
You can freeze a whole meal like the one you see on top. Just make you seal it tightly with cling wrap. You can also use flat Tupperware, glass or commercial grade freezer containers.
Always mark the food with a permanent marker. Sometimes when its’ frozen, a veggie dish can look like a meat when it’s in a ziplock bag. Mark a use by date.
Don’t use the freezer as long-term storage. Frozen food has its limits too. As a general rule, fruits, vegetables and fish will stay freezer-fresh for up to six months, and meat and poultry for three months.
Hope you found this post useful. If you have any freezer friendly tips, do share and celebrate frozen food month by making some fun frozen foods like smoothies. For great recipes, check out Smoothie Central.