Does Freezing Make Ahead Meals Work for You?

Cooking make ahead meals, snacks and other food items will definitely save you time, reduce food waste and ultimately save you money, but it will only work if you stay on top of what you freeze and know how long it can actually be left frozen.

Did you know that broths, soups, chili, sauces and most casseroles should only be kept in the freezer for up to 2-3 months? (Allison Day, Your Ultimate Guide to Freezing Food, 2017)

The longest some things should remain frozen is 6 months up to 1 year. And here we are talking single items like meat, some fruits, and some vegetables. Let’s face it. How much nutritional value would be left in items that have been frozen for an excessively long time?

Some food should just not be frozen! Squash, melons, apples, lettuce and sprouts and many other food items that have a high water concentration, just do not thaw well and therefore should not be frozen.

This is where some thoughtful Freezer Meal Success Tips will help you be the Meal Saver and be successful using your freezer.

10 Tips for Freezer Meal Success

✅ Keep freezer temperature at -18ºC (0ºF) to protect food quality.
✅ Moderate the number of meals that you cook ahead and include the date and contents on the pack (using a sticky note can help on storage containers or a marker if using bags).
✅ Use quality freezing bags or containers to avoid frost burn. Leave space at the top of the bag or container for soups and other liquids to expand as they freeze so their lids do not get popped off.
✅ Don’t include fruits and vegetables in your freezer packs as they contain a lot of water. Freeze them separately or you can drop them in later in the cooking process.
✅ Loose meat freezes well like goulash, pulled pork, pulled chicken, chicken chunks, roast beef, and even taco/fajita meat.
✅ If making meals with pasta always under cook your noodles so that they won’t be soggy when you thaw them or leave the pasta out and cook when you prepare the meal (pasta takes 8-10 minutes to cook).
✅ Avoid refreezing uncooked meat. You must pre-cook the meat in your meal before freezing it again.
✅ Freeze prepared cooked meats like chicken or beef in smaller portions so you can quickly use when making stir fries, tacos, sandwiches, soups, or salads.
✅  Defrost meals under warm water and cook it in the oven or Multipurpose Steamer or add frozen to a slow cooker and let simmer. Or plan ahead and defrost your meal in your fridge (normally around 5 hours per pound).
✅ Organize your freezer to maximize space and be able to access the must use up meals first. If you use freezer bags, try arranging your freezer meals like books on a bookshelf.
✅ Only make Meals your family will actually eat. Don’t waste you time, money and/or freezer space.

I hope these handy tips will make life and meals easier.

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