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Freezer Meals

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Tasty Kitchen Blog: Kitchen Talk (Freezer Meals)

I’ve always been envious of those who have backup meals neatly stashed away in their freezer, always ready to whip something out at a moment’s notice (like Ree’s Lasagna Rollups above). Those in the know have tricks up their sleeve and you can’t even tell the food was made ahead and cooked from frozen. Me, I’m not in the know. And that’s why I’m excited about today’s Kitchen Talk topic! Tell us:

Do you have any tips for freezer-friendly meals?

Any go-to recipes that are freezer-friendly? Tips and things to avoid when freezing food? Storage ideas? Favorite freezer-safe containers?

I have absolutely no tips to share because I’ve attempted to freeze meals twice, and both times I completely forgot I had them in the freezer. When I finally discovered them again, the food had practically fused with the container and I couldn’t remember what year I put them in there. So I cut my losses and said nothing to no one.

So maybe my tip about things to avoid when freezing is to not be like me.

Nanci says, “When we run the smoker, we usually load it up with several briskets or racks of ribs or chickens, then freeze the extras. It’s easier to run a full smoker than one that isn’t full. We do the same for grilled burgers—get that nice grilled flavor, then just freeze a couple so you don’t have to light up the grill on a weeknight.”

I need to learn more tips like that, so come share! Let’s hear all the freezer wisdom that I’m sure is out there and together, let’s freeze away! Or something like that.

 

31 Comments

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Susan on 5.27.2014

Almost any food can be frozen. For instance, when you have an abundance of fruits and vegetables from you garden that do not freeze well such as strawberries and tomatoes, you can puree them to use later on in sauces or smoothies. Apples can be stewed and used to make pies or jams. These methods also save space in your freezer. Trimming off the excess fat from meats before freezing will cut down on the risk of rancidity that can occur during freezing.

Ranger S. on 5.27.2014

There is an art to freezing bread. Believe it or not, we collect plastic grocery bags to freeze bread. Each loaf or pkg of rolls/buns will require 6 bags. Leave the bread in the bag it came in. Wrap the bread in one grocery bag but don’t seal it – just tuck the ends together as best you can. Turn the bread upside down and wrap with another bag. Continue to wrap the loaf while each time turning the opening of the next bag away from the last bag you used. When the sixth bag is around the bread, use a freezer label to hold the opening of the bag shut. On the label, write the kind of bread and the date it is frozen.

This does work. Try it with one loaf and see. You’ll find that you can buy bread in bulk from a big box store and freeze it. Really. Just make sure you have enough plastic grocery bags . . .

DebbieK on 5.23.2014

I freeze a chili soup shortcut. With fresh tomatoes, peppers and onions from the garden, I roast these vegetables first and then simmer with chili and cumin spices to make a chili soup ‘base’. I simmer it down so it is thick, then freeze is literally in cool whip containers. Once frozen, I vacuum seal in vacuum freezer bags to make a ‘disc’. To make chili later, the recipe is 1 chili disc (the soup base thawed), 1 can chili beans, 1 pound fried hamburger and 1 can beef broth – easy-peasy for a quick winter weeknight meal.

Kathryn on 5.23.2014

One more thing: pasta sauces! It’s easy to make a double batch of any tomato sauce, and then just freeze half! Makes a very quick dinner. Smitten Kitchen’s white bean pasta sauce freezes super well, and is just as delicious when reheated with hot, fresh pasta!

Kathryn on 5.23.2014

I love to make a big pot of beans (black, red, pinto, black-eyed peas) or lentils (especially black ones) and then freeze them in small freezer bags (1-2 size portions). I’ve discovered on my really hectic days, I can just take it out, put it in a take-away container and eat it for a very healthy lunch. I can either make fresh rice to go with it, or just buy rice (I live in a place with easy access to rice!). I like to season the beans and lentils well (cumin and coriander, etc.), and I do add onion and garlic to them when I cook them. I once added potato and carrots to them, but they tend to not do very well when freezing and unfreezing (carrot is kind of ok, but not the potato). I find that a fresh pico de gallo, or simply chopped tomatoes + onions + fresh herb (parsley or basil) goes wonderfully on top of a bowl of beans or lentils. This combo is also great for a very quick, healthy dinner.

One other absolutely great, and super healthy recipe I’ve found that is wonderful for freezing is Dr. Oz’s quinoa, sweet potato chili! Red quinoa works great, and you don’t miss the meat at all! (I’m not even a chili fan, but I love this!)

Using this make ahead technique has made it possible for me to have healthy lunches and has left me feeling so much better about myself a few days a week!

One other thing I’ve done that works well is make bread dough and freeze it in the loaf shape (so I make small French baguette style bread loaves). The dough can also be used to make a quick pizza. You simply need to take it out 1-2 hours ahead of time or even the night before, and voilà, fresh baked bread for breakfast that only requires turning on the oven!

I don’t know about the availability in America, but Glaslock glass containers are wonderful for freezing and taking meals to work/school. I like that you can easily reheat things in it (even oven safe) and you don’t have to worry about plastic or chemicals melting into your food!

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momof3littles on 5.23.2014

I love freezing dishes ahead of time, its like a present waiting for me in the freezer on a hectic night. I also take new moms or grieving families a meal wrapped ready to freeze with label and directions on it in case they are overloaded on food, and want to save it for later. I love to bake cookies and freeze them on cookie sheets and them transfer them to freezer bags. That way my kids have the cookie they like in the freezer and they can get one out at a time. I also pick berries like a mad woman all summer and freeze them.
The week before school starts I will freeze hundreds of waffles, breakfast burritos, biscuits, and gravy bullets as my boys call them (gravy blobs in an ice cube tray, pop them out nuke add milk, nuke, stir, eat) it make the transition of getting up for school less hectic. I do it again on Christmas and spring break. Take time, but it’s worth it.

Ellen@BakeItWithBooze on 5.22.2014

I never freeze anything with potatoes or chunks of beef, whereas chicken and cheesy dishes freeze well. I find that freezing in those foil loaf pans is really the best size/configuration. The mini loaf size is great for meatloaf. They seem to be the most stable, cool down and freeze faster, and are easy to fit in the freezer. Plus, you can get 4 of them (large ones) on a half sheet pan for easing baking/handling. I always let things cool to refrigerator temp prior to wrapping and freezing. I cover with a piece of wax paper first, then plastic wrap and then foil. Just seems to mitigate that weird frosty stuff that collects on the underside of the plastic wrap (I do the same for cookies and cupcakes). Also, using a sharpie to write the item and date is a time/life saver. And, I never freeze things that have 2 different consistencies, like chicken and biscuits. Just too problematic upon defrosting.

Patty Paulsen on 5.22.2014

I have freezers everywhere. (Really, I do!) The best thing I ever invested in is one of those counter-top vacuum-packagers. Mine is used constantly because I tend to buy in bulk. But it is also convenient when I cook extra, have a bounty of produce, or just want to supplement store packaging. I keep a marker in my drawer and always label, giving me clues as I wander through my freezer compartments looking for inspiration.

I always have bags of assorted vegetables in the freezer. When dinner is a question at the last moment (really, how did I not know I would be required to feed the family yet again?), the bagged vegetables turn into a pilaf or stir fry or baked potato topping. They also jump into the egg casserole on the weekends–making sure my family gets as many vegetables as I can stuff in them. Same with bagged frozen fruit–again, I buy in bulk and freeze individual portions in my vacuum bags. Frozen soups/stews are wonderful, just don’t add in pasta as it gets mushy. Plan on adding a bit of liquid when you reheat to get to right consistency.

I freeze tomato paste (I never use the whole can at once), broth and herbs. I will sometimes freeze meat with a marinade poured in the freezer bag–is a great timesaver and adds a little somethin’ somethin’ without extra work. Cookie dough, pie crusts and pizza dough also live in my freezer. Butter and cheese can also be frozen, just know the cheese is best used shredded and melted. I do not freeze bread, just don’t like how it tastes/feels when thawed unless it gets toasted. Freezer jam is wonderful, just waiting for someone to make me some!

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Shawna C on 5.22.2014

Just want to add, when I say “always have a sturdy ziploc bag to add pepper strips to” I mean I keep one in the freezer all the time and rotate fresh and frozen pepper strips out of it.

Also, a PSA: no one should never heat anything above lukewarm in a plastic container that is not specified as microwave safe as the plastic can leach into your food (source: the Canadian Cancer Society). I run my containers under water for a few seconds to break the seal, then I transfer the contents to a glass or ceramic dish to heat them up in the microwave.

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Shawna C on 5.22.2014

My husband is home early-ish with the kids, but hopeless at meal planning in the winter (in the summer he BBQs all the time), so I’ve learned I have to prepare/freeze stuff if I don’t want to come home to takeout 3-4 nights of the week. It’s really too late to start stuff by the time I arrive at 6pm.

I find that anything I make in a slow-cooker freezes well without the starch (pasta and rice just add bulk and are super-quick to make while the main course is thawing in the microwave, and chunks of potato get mushy and gross when frozen – mashed is probably okay to freeze though). This includes pasta sauces with either chicken or ground meat, curries, chilis, and mexican chicken which I use to make burritoes, nachos, enchiladas, or “mexican lasagna” (layered with tortillas and cheese and baked in the oven).

I also don’t freeze soup whole to save space, but I freeze individual ingredients from leftovers of other meals which can be thrown into stock with some onion and garlic (I use organic pre-made stock). For example, after roast chicken or turkey I strip the whole carcass and chop and freeze the meat – same with a beef or pork roast; if I’m making sweet potatoes I’ll peel and chop an extra to pop in the freezer, etc. Carrots are better in soup when sliced fresh, but lots of frozen veggies are just fine (again, not potatoes).

I also always have a sturdy ziploc bag to add pepper strips to. I’ll often only need half a pepper, then I’ll slice the rest and freeze for quick stirfrying for asian dishes, or grilling for fajitas. I have a second smaller ziploc for leftover bacon in case I need just a slice or two to add into garlic green beans or a pasta dish, but it’s rare I’m quick enough to stop the whole package from being devoured by my family.

When berries get borderline for fresh eating I’ll chop, wash and freeze them for smoothies or pancakes.

dotpax on 5.22.2014

I have done large cooking days where I make 15 meals in a day with friends and we freeze them. It takes lots of planning and loads of ingredients but it’s so nice to have those meals finished.
Things I’ve learned…
*When making soup, simmer after you thaw, not before you freeze it. Hot soup in large pots takes forever to cool. We put frozen water bottles in plastic bags into the pots of soup to chill them faster. Freeze soup flat in gallon or quart freezer bags (place bags in freezer on cookie sheets).
*If you make a bunch of meals in one day, your freezer will not be able to handle the load well. It can take up to 2 days to actually have everything frozen. Sometimes I put things in the fridge first to cool off, then I put it in the freezer at the end of the day.
*Properly label everything with the date and name of the dish plus cooking or reheating instructions. It saves a lot of guess work.
*If you don’t want to do a big cooking day, just double or triple the recipes you make for a few weeks and you’ll have a fully stocked freezer.
*If you’re going to cook all day, nothing is more helpful than having all your cheese shredded and all your veggies pre-chopped.
*Keep up on the dirty dish pile as you go. They will stack sky high before you know it!
I’m sure I have more tips, but those are the main ones. :) good luck!

Jessie K. on 5.22.2014

Back in the days, I use to dedicate 2-3 hours to come up with recipes I wanted to freeze and then dedicate a full day shopping and cooking. As I was single, I bought single portion aluminium containers as I mainly made ovendishes and I’d take them out before going to work and then just throw them in the oven once I arrive home. Word work with bigger containers as well.

Marie on 5.22.2014

Take little stickys and write whats in the container and the date. If the sticky doesn’t stick use a little scotch tape too.

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Deeremama on 5.22.2014

We raise cattle & pigs so we always have a freezer full of meat. When I have a rare weekend with not much going on I will brown 10-15 pounds of ground beef. I then refreeze the cooked meat in 1.5 lb pkgs. This makes it so much quicker & easier to fix dinner in the evenings. Before I leave for work, I get a package out and put in the refrigerator. Its almost completely thawed by the time I get home. Then I make a casserole, chili, taco meat, spaghetti sauce, etc. with it.

I also season & bake chicken breasts and then shred or chop some and freeze and use in dishes the same way. And I double recipes and freeze half. I do this alot with meatloaf, lasagna rolls ups,

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rinabeana on 5.22.2014

I love making big batches of soup and freezing individual portions. I get the 24 oz. soup & salad size disposable containers just for this purpose, and reuse them, of course. My boyfriend and I often have soup for weekend lunches, which frees up more time for fun pursuits. Cooking is fun, but it’s nice to have something ready to eat after a long morning hike or paddle in our kayaks. I also like to make a big batch of maple bacon cheddar burgers (http://tastykitchen.com/recipes/main-courses/maple-bacon-cheddar-burgers/) and freeze them individually in vacuum-sealed bags. That makes weeknight dinners easy and I can choose how many to thaw and cook depending on how many leftover lunches my boyfriend needs. Our other favorite recipe is Wegmans’ turkey sage meatloaf (http://www.wegmans.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ProductDisplay?langId=-1&storeId=10052&catalogId=10002&productId=772732). If I make the whole recipe, I can portion it into three baking dishes (one with 4 servings, and two with 3 servings) and freeze two of them. I like to put the loaf on parchment paper and then into a Le Creuset baking dish. I freeze it in that form and then remove to a Ziploc bag or vacuum-seal once it’s frozen. When I’m ready to thaw it, I put it back in the dish. You can also freeze it in the dish, but then it’s tied up until you get out the meatloaf.

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WestieMom on 5.22.2014

I’ve started freezing entrees (or the components of an entree) when my children were very young and time was at a premium. Now that it’s just my husband and myself most evenings, I still rely on my freezer for help through the week – especially after a hectic day at work! Some of my favorites to freeze are meatballs (why go through the mess of making them just for one meal?? I double of triple the batch, and then I have them in the freezer for meatball soup, subs, or to add to pasta & sauce); chili also freezes very well (as do most soups, I have found – minestrone, vegetable, chicken rice, etc.); my home-made marinara and bolognese sauces (I think they are actually better after they’ve had a stint in the freezer); eggplant parmesan; batches of home-made sloppy joe sauce (I love the one found on ourbestbites.com); taco meat; and pulled pork, chicken, or beef (which I like to use on pizzas with barbecue sauce). When chicken is on sale at the market (boneless, skinless or bone-in) I buy extra and roast it in the oven with lots of herbs, salt, pepper, & olive oil. Then I cut it into cubes or pull it with forks and freeze it to use in casseroles (like tetrazzini) or soups. One last thing that freezes well (and it surprised me to discover it did!) is twice-baked potatoes – after stuffing them, I wrap them individually in plastic wrap, freeze, and keep them in a freezer bag. You can just pop one or two out (thaw in the fridge if you want) and bake in the oven. Loved reading everyone’s ideas and tips – I’ll be incorporating lots of these in the future! :)

Bex Crowell on 5.22.2014

I didn’t read down thru all your comments so not sure if this tip was mentioned, but I learned that it’s the air that gets in with the food to be frozen that causes the damage.

So my tip is to make sure you get as much air out of the container as possible.

I use sturdy weight zip-lock baggies and I try to flatten the food out as much as possible in the bag. Then I zip it shut up to about 1/2 inch from the end, and then I suck any remaining air out of the baggie (like one of those vacuum machines does) and finish zipping it closed.

The food inside always stays fine that way. One of those vacuum sealed machines would be good but I don’t have the money or the room for one. My method works great for me.

KrissyC EsMommy on 5.22.2014

I find that there are quite a few things that fare well in the freezer. Around my house, when we have a big dinner like turkey or ham I will make up plates filled with all sorts of good things…for instance the turkey one will have stuffing, mashed potato, sweet potato, and a lot of turkey. I then wrap it good with plastic wrap and stick the entire plate into a gallon sized baggie, mark the date and freeze.
I also tend to make up a big batch of things and freeze a portion in a freezer safe, microwave safe container like sloppy joes, chili sauce for hot dogs, and spaghetti (noodles and cheese go in a baggie).
During the months I make a collection bag of chicken from roasted chickens and when I have enough I make pot pie. I freeze one and keep the other out to eat.
In the fall, I make up ziplock baggies full of good things like squash that I have roasted. I also do up baggies of soups for easy heating and eating (Bean soup, and pea soup in particular, as they are favorites around here) and the best part is that I freeze the soup in portion sized baggies, then toss the whole baggie into a pot of boiling water for 5 minutes and end up with a bag of steaming soup. To get it out easy, I just make a slice along the bottom of the baggie over the top of a bowl and then top with sour cream, cheese or just eat it straight up. Chili also works in portion sized baggies.
I cheat in the summer and go out berry picking, then freeze the berries (raspberry and strawberry work great, as does rhubarb) to make jam in the winter. Always seems like jam never lasts through the end of summer and fall before I run out, and its a nice treat to have the house smelling like jam in the wintertime months.
And lastly dessert. Cookies freeze easy prior to baking. Just scoop the dough onto a cookie sheet, pop into the freezer until solid then toss into a ziplock baggie. When I want to bake up cookies I just toss a few of the frozen scoops onto a cookie sheet and bake. Also helps to create a nice gooey cookie. I really don’t do much besides prepare the dessert, then bake it up when the time is right. I usually have apple crunch, mini apple pies, and apple tarts ready to go…at least as long as they last!
There really is just soo much that works great in the freezer that your imagination is what limits it. Making notes on the calendar as to when something expires or keeping a list of what’s in the freezer helps greatly. Its so nice to just pop out my own version of a “tv dinner” and heat it for a quick dinner. My daughter hasn’t ever had a real tv dinner, just what I make up. LoL and to think she feels deprived that her friends talk about all these tv dinners and she gets stuck with home cooked meals instead. Kids I tell you. Lots of stores sell containers, and I find that most containers work great. Freezer bags are better than storage bags, and they have the handy area for writing dates so it works great. I keep frozen things in the upstairs fridge freezer, and other things like meats, breads, and other stock up items in the chest freezer in the basement, so when I open the freezer door I’m always reminded of whats in there.

John Hastings on 5.22.2014

To avoid freezer burn on soups & stews I put portions in ziploc plastic containers overnight, the next day you pop them out like ice cubes and put them in Foodsaver sealed bags. I’ve kept things for nearly a year without any loss of quality, REALLY! I always have homemade chicken & beef stock stored the same way. A bowl of Pho or noodle soup is always just a few minutes away. The cold water drip will thaw any portion in 15-20 minutes, good food that can be prepared quick will keep you from that drivethru on the way home.

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    Erika (TK) on 5.22.2014

    @John, you had me at pho. I’ll have to try that, thanks!

Kate on 5.22.2014

Keep a running list of what is in the freezer. I have mine in a single page protector taped to the lid. It help to remind me what I have when I’m stuck for a meal.

Carole M. on 5.22.2014

We’ve been doing a lot with freezer meals, and what we’ve found works best is anything you can throw in a freezer ziplock baggie and then cook in your crockpot. I found a lot of the freezer casseroles were too much work ahead of time – you had to precook all the meat etc… it didn’t really save time. But we’ve found some awesome crock pot meals from freezer meals.

Betty on 5.21.2014

A couple things I do are bake up extra chicken breasts, cube some and shred some to use in later meals like chicken salad, tostadas etc. I also make up french bread pizza’s and freeze those. They are great for lunch at work too.
It is a lot easier to make freezer meals for winter, summer is harder but then we tend to eat lighter, grill and eat at different times.

Jane on 5.21.2014

for about a year, I have been using a WONDERFUL product by ZIPLOC… it is called ‘perfect portions’…this product, in my opion, is fabulous!
Look for it in your grocery store and look at the simple directions on the package… you simply put your hand into a bag, pick up your desired portion, pull it through the bag and twist to close…
you can easily freeze individual portions, a few or several, in one freezer bag…
I use this product all of the time as I am a single household member…this allows be to seperate meats or anything else into “perfect portions” for me!
Cooked or not cooked, breaking down large amounts eliminates waste…
For example, I can get boneless, skinless chicken breat at 50% off and take them home to freeze in single portions, using one zippered freezer bag which I have labeled and dated with a sharoie!
It can be portions of a casserole, or pulled cooked chicken or pork, or cooked flank steak for tacos or burittos, or whatever…just use your imagination…For me, this product is GENIOUS !
I’m no longer raising a family to cook for, it’s just me! Now I can continue to enjoy cooking, when I feel like it, and not worry about wasting food!
I hope this helps others as it has been an absolute joy for me!

Dale Stern on 5.21.2014

Whenever I make chili..I make a huge pot and freeze half. I put them in individual containers and pop in microwave as needed for a quick lunch or dinner.

I also freeze spaghetti sauce.

I make big batches of eggplant parm and freeze.

My fav…I go to farmers market when basil is cheap and make tons of pesto without the cheese put in small deli containers ..When needed I defrost and add cheese.
Awesome to have pesto on pasta all year long.

I use a sharpie for date n what it is.

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C. L. ( Cheryl ) "Cheffie Cooks" Wiser on 5.21.2014

Greetings Sally, good job-freezing! Let your pasta dish thaw in refrigerator over-night. Cover your casserole with your cheese add foil bake @ 350 F for 15 minutes covered. It’ll taste better the second time around! Best Regards, Cheryl.

Sally on 5.21.2014

How interesting that this topic came up tonight. I just made pasta for dinner, and as usual, cooked too much. I decided to put the leftover rotini in a corningware casserole, cover it with the remaining sauce, and then I wrote “pasta casserole – add cheese & bake.” Some night when I don’t want to cook, I’ll pull that out & have an easy meal… I HOPE. Never did this before. Anybody want to comment & give me some tips for when I thaw & bake? Like: what would appropriate baking time & temp be so that I don’t end up w/ crunchy pasta?

Kris on 5.21.2014

I marinate and grill b/s chicken breast, let it cool, slice it, place slices on a parchment paper-lined sheet pan, freeze for 1-2 hours, then drop the frozen chicken strips in a ziplock bag. This is so much less expensive than the ready-made chicken strips (which I refuse to buy). To get as much air out of the bag as possible before freezing, roll the partially filled bag up like a jellyroll from the bottom, then close the zipper. The strips defrost quickly for fajitas, quesadillas, or as an add-on to soups or salads.

When I buy a rotisserie chicken, I use the bones to make my own chicken broth. I transfer the cooled broth to 1 qt. freezer bags and freeze. The broth defrosts quickly when the bag is put into a container of warm water. Use the broth for soups, sauces, or cooking rice. I use this method to make ham broth from a leftover spiral sliced ham–this makes fabulous potato cheese soup!

When wine is on sale, I buy a bottle and put it in 1/2 cup plastic freezer containers and freeze. When I need wine for pot roast, soup, or stews, just run the container under running hot water and plop the frozen wine into the pan. It would not taste good to drink thawed wine, but used for cooking, it is great.

I freeze fresh b/s chicken breasts and pork loins in marinade. While it thaws in the fridge, it marinates.

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C. L. ( Cheryl ) "Cheffie Cooks" Wiser on 5.21.2014

A very important detail I learned a few years ago was to remember to label all frozen foods with a date. Organization is key. Many home cooked meals can be frozen. I cook large meals so I am an avid “Queen to the Freezer” kind of gal. Not that there is always a lot leftover?! So, I sometimes double recipes to made sure I can freeze enough. Using tins (in various sizes, works great) especially with pasta dishes, casseroles, BBQ meats, marinades, sauces. Breads do not last long freezing they tend to ice up no matter what type of freezer you have (Upright in my case works best) and what type of containers/bags/freezer wrapped paper you use. I do use freezer safe plastic containers often for soups, stews. We tend to entertain quite a bit (everyone wants to visit us in Florida?!!!) that is all good and I enjoy company. Yes, even the laundry! Back to freezing; I freeze fruit whether fresh, or already froze. I’ll freeze leftover fruit desserts too. I will often use freezer safe plastic dish containers that have 3 compartments (like a frozen dinner you might purchase) and it has a heavy duty lid. Have fun cooking and freezing everyone! CLW

Kim on 5.21.2014

I think keeping the freezer stocked with quickie meals is the only area of my life that’s organized. I will admit, though, that I’m better at this when the weather’s cool. I usually set aside a coupla Sundays a month to make big pots of soup, pasta sauce, stews, even pans of lasagna or pastitsio, and then I portion it out and freeze.

For most soupy things I like the tall blue-lidded quart containers from the grocery store. For lasagna I use the snap top square containers, but I always line them with plastic wrap first or they stain.

I make a big batch of food, have some for dinner, and then chill the rest. If I’ve made a big batch o’ whatever in my Le Creuset, that means putting the food in freezer containers while it’s hot, and setting the containers in a sink full of ice water to chill it more quickly. (Leave food in a cast iron pot and it’ll still be warm in the morning!) Once the grub has cooled, I usually put a container in the fridge for later in the week, put a small piece of plastic wrap on the top of the food in the rest of the containers, press it down, and then add the lid, and it’s off to the freezer for them. Just remember to use within a few month for the best result.

For something like lasagna I usually let the leftovers sit for a little while so that it’s easier to work with, then cut into four-serving square and put into plastic wrap-lined square containers. I give them the same ice bath as above, and when they’re all cool, I wrap the plastic wrap over the top of the food to seal it, then put on the lid and freeze.

In the summer I get a little lazy in the freezer department. The only thing I do routinely is, just before the first frost, I cut all the herbs back and make lots of logs of various herb butters to freeze, so that I can have that fresh herby goodness in the winter.

So that’s my freezer advice: Make big batches on weekends, cool properly and wrap well and use within 90 days or so. Nothing makes me happier than when I can pull a quart of good soup out of the freezer in the morning, and have dinner in just minutes later that evening. Give it a try!

jen on 5.21.2014

Pulled pork or chicken is something I freeze to use later for sandwiches or to eat on potatoes. Pot roast, beans, lentils also take up a lot of freezer. Whenever I make something like spaghetti and meatballs, I always make a double batch and freeze sauce by itself.

I reuse the talenti ice cream containers to freeze things in. They are clear and have nice screw on lids.