Storing freezer meals properly is vital to their longevity. As a busy working woman, I’m always trying to find ways to make my life easier. One way I do this is by preparing freezer meals in advance. Freezing meals saves time and money and allows me to have delicious homemade meals without the hassle of meal prepping every day. But before you can enjoy these delicious make ahead meals, you need to know how to store them properly! Here are my tips for storing freezer meals:
Start with a Great Recipe!
You can’t go wrong following any of the fantastic recipes in the FreezerFit database. (Sign up to get full access to our recipe database and more!) Find a selection of hearty meatballs, burritos, cheesy mac and cheese, stuffed shells, and more. These easy freezer meal recipes will kick off your freezer meal experience and you will be an expert in no time. Chicken pot pie? No problem! When you can have comfort food straight from the freezer, you know you’ve hit the jackpot.
Choose the Right Containers
You have several options. I recommend using: good quality, gallon-sized freezer bags (not those flimsy sandwich bags!) They can lay flat in your freezer and take up less space than a bulky container. Just make sure that any bags used are made specifically for freezing, not just regular sandwich bags, which can easily rip when frozen solid!
Glass containers with air-tight lids are also a good choice for storing freezer meals, especially things like layered casseroles. They won’t absorb any odors or flavors from other foods and they won’t leach harmful chemicals into your food like some plastic containers can.
I recommend using:
- good quality, gallon-sized freezer bags (not those flimsy sandwich bags!)
- a good quality chef’s knife, and
- a cutting board.
As you get more experience, you may want to consider investing in a pressure cooker (Instant Pot) or a slow cooker (Crockpot). These come at various price points to fit most budgets, but here is the Instant Pot and Crockpot I use. I also strongly recommend buying some bag holders. These make the experience much more enjoyable, make meal prep quicker, and keep your kitchen cleaner.
Label and Date Your Meals
It’s important to label each container with the name of the meal and the date it was prepared so that you know when it needs to be consumed by. This will help you ensure that you don’t accidentally eat something that has been in the freezer too long.
I recommend printing these labels on computer paper or water-resistant stickers and taping/attaching them to your bags PRIOR to meal prep.
Don’t Overfill Containers
When freezing your food, make sure not to overfill the containers so that there is enough room for expansion as the food freezes. Otherwise, your container could crack or burst open from the pressure of expanding frozen food.
Wrap Food in Plastic Wrap
To prevent freezer burn, you can wrap individual portions of food in plastic wrap before putting it into a container or bag for freezing. This will help keep out air and moisture, which can cause freezer burn on your food over time.
Keep Temperature Consistent
Once your food is frozen solid, try to keep it at a consistent temperature to prevent thawing and refreezing, which can cause bacteria growth on your food over time if done too often. If you have one, use a separate freezer specifically for storing all of your frozen meals so that you don’t have to worry about other items causing fluctuations in temperature within your main refrigerator’s freezer section!
Divide Large Meals Into Portions Before Freezing
If you are making large batches of one recipe like chili or lasagna, divide it into smaller portions before freezing them so that you don’t have one giant container taking up all of your precious freezer space! This will also help ensure even cooking once you decide which portion size works best for dinner later on down the line!
Use Your Frozen Meals Before They Expire
You don’t want to serve your family a meal that has gone bad. You’re not doing yourself any favors if you make meals ahead but then have to throw them out. And no matter how carefully you package them, they will go bad eventually. We recommend that you use your freezer meals within four months. If they look questionable or have an off smell, it’s best to discard them immediately.
That’s all there is to it! Now with these tips in mind, you should be able to store all those delicious homemade meals without any issues! Enjoy!