How to store food in the freezer
Your freezer lets you stock up on prepared meals and ingredients in advance, so you there’s always something good to eat when you need it. Freezing food also helps to avoid food waste. Rather than throwing the remaining pot of soup in the compost bin, you can freeze it to enjoy a week or two later.
Seems simple, right? The only issue is that frozen food can sometimes come out tasting pretty nasty. Improper storage exposes frozen food to air, creating a dry or mealy texture that is far from enjoyable to eat. It can also cause individual items to harden into a clump that takes forever—and a day—to thaw.
Don’t let any sour experiences deter you from freezing future meals. Here are the best ways to take full advantage of your freezer. You’ll be happy you kept reading!
The best way to store food in the freezer
Gather the tools
How food is packaged for freezing depends on what kind of room you have in your freezer, how you plan to use the food, and how you want to reheat it.
Packing leftovers for school or work requires a single-serving plastic or glass container with a tight-fitting lid. While, prepping dinner for a family requires larger container that you can pop straight into the oven—like a glass or aluminum foil baking dish. If space is at a premium, zip-top freezer bags are the best use option for optimal storage since they lay flat.
Adding a layer of plastic wrap or heavy-duty aluminum foil gives an extra layer of protection against frost.
Pack it right
Preparing food for freezing is easy. The key thing to remember is that not everything should be stored the same way.
Bread should be wrapped in tin foil and sealed in a large zip-top bag for extra protection.
Casseroles should be frozen in the dish you plan to bake them in. If the dish doesn’t come with an airtight lid, wrap the dish tightly in plastic wrap followed by a layer of foil. Pack them up uncooked, then transfer them straight to the oven when you’re ready to bake. Thawing them first can mess with the texture of the meal.
Cooked grains and beans should be portioned into individual containers or zip-top bags. Reusable containers create zero-waste, but the bags store flat and take up less room in the freezer, so it comes down to personal preference.
Fresh fruits and vegetables freeze best when you lay individual pieces on a parchment-lined baking sheet and freeze, then transfer to a zip-top bag. Freezing individually, keeps clumps from forming avoiding giant berry or pea ice blocks. Fresh fruit can be frozen raw, but vegetables need a quick blanch so they are cooked when you defrost them.
Proteins like individually cooked chicken breasts should be wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, followed by a layer of heavy-duty foil, and placed in zip-top bags. By wrapping each piece of meat, you help prevent spoilage by avoiding air gaps.
Soups and stews are best stored in single-serve freezer-safe containers for quick reheating. If you’d rather freeze the full batch, store in a larger container with a tight-fitting lid. When it’s time to reheat, stick the container (with lid closed) in a pot of warm water to accelerate the thawing process. Glass mason jars are also a great way to store soups, stews, and sauces because they don’t stain or pit. Just be sure to place a layer of plastic wrap over the top, then twist on the lid.
Label the containers
Tracking your inventory makes it easy to recognize food in their frozen state. It also helps you track the date, so food is used up well before its prime. After three months, stored food will start to lose its texture and flavour.
Grab your favourite Sharpie and either label the container directly. You can also write on a self-adhesive label or a piece of masking tape and affix to the container or zip-top bag. Erasable freezer labels are also an option. Be sure to include the type of food and the date.
Keeping a list of what you have on the fridge (or a note in your phone) will help you remember exactly what’s in the freezer.
You can’t freeze everything
Unfortunately, not every food is meant for the freezer. Freezing causes chemical changes in food, and some foods can’t withstand the temperature and stay palatable. The following foods are best kept out of your freezer:
- Apples & citrus fruits.
- Creamy sauces.
- Cooked pasta.
- Lettuce, cucumbers, celery, tomatoes, or other veggies you plan to eat raw.
- Milk, yogurt, or soft cheeses. However, hard cheese is okay to freeze!
- Whole eggs or egg dishes, like a frittata or quiche.