Freezing foods ahead of time is a great way to meal prep for a busy week. Reheating frozen foods makes it easier than ever to make your family’s favorite meals. You can cook something ahead of time and use it days, weeks, or even months later. It’s important to know the basic rules of keeping foods safe and fresh in your freezer.
Basic Freezer Storage Tips
- The freezer needs to be at zero degrees Fahrenheit or below to safely freeze any food item.
- Use a freezer bag or air-tight container.
- Write the date that the food expires on a piece of tape and put it on the container. This timeline will vary based on the food product.
- Freeze fresh fruits and vegetables and you can use them for up to 12 months.
- Certain veggies benefit from being blanched or cooked before freezing. Blanching involves boiling the veggies and them placing them in ice to preserve flavor and texture.
- Buying fruit and veggies in season then freezing is a great way to have ripe, in- season produce for longer.
Freezing Meats and Poultry
- Freezing meat and poultry follows the same storage container guidelines as fruits and vegetables, but these foods have more food safety concerns.
- Raw meat and poultry can be stored safely for 9-12 months. Cooked poultry has a shorter lifetime of up to 6 months.
- If you’re storing meal leftovers, make sure you package and freeze meat separately.
Thawing and Using Frozen Foods
- You need to follow certain steps in order to safely thaw foods. Different foods need different thawing methods. Some foods are more safely defrosted in the fridge instead of the microwave.
- Use frozen foods for meal prepping to save time during a busy week. Cook meats before freezing so they can be easily added to any meal in the following few months. It’s helpful to cook foods plain and then add seasonings when you reheat it.
- Frozen fruits are an easy snack or can be blended into a smoothie.
Freezing foods now to eat later is a great way to spend less time in the kitchen and more time doing things you love. Just remember to follow the basic safety tips for fresh produce or meats and you are good to go!
By Rachael Minigone