Freezable Meals

Frozen meals can be very enticing. Push a few buttons on the microwave, and you can have dinner ready in minutes. The frozen food industry has come a long way with these convenient meals, but it can still be difficult to wade through the unhealthy options in the freezer aisle. Consider making it easier on yourself by freezing your own healthy recipes instead.

Leftovers will easily keep in your refrigerator for several days. Freezing extends their shelf-life even more - usually for up to three months. Not only will making your own frozen meals save you time, but it can help you cut down on waste, which also saves you money.

Here are a few tips for making your own healthy freezable meals at home.

Freezing Tips

  • When you anticipate a busy night, remember to thaw your frozen meal for 1-2 days ahead of time in the refrigerator. Smaller containers will thaw more quickly than large containers. Find additional safe thawing tips below.
  • When you find time in your busy schedule to cook, make it a point to choose a recipe that makes a large batch. That way you know you’ll have extras to freeze. You can also double recipes to ensure you’ll have enough to use for freezable meals. 
  • Make portion control easy too. When you freeze meals, use small single-serving containers.
  • Certain types of recipes will freeze better than others. Foods that freeze particularly well include soups, stews, chili, casseroles, meatloaf, and roasts.
  • You can also cook fresh chicken or turkey ahead of time. Slice the cooked meat, freeze it, and defrost when you need a lean protein source in your meals. This can also be a good alternative to using processed lunch meats.
  • Keep in mind there are some foods that don’t freeze well. These include high-moisture uncooked fresh fruits and vegetables. Salads such as tuna salad, macaroni salad, egg salad, and those with a mayonnaise-based dressing are also not optimal for freezing. In addition, dishes with creamy or milk-based sauces don’t typically reheat to their original quality, though this can depend on the recipe. 
  • Avoid freezer burn by storing your freezable meals in airtight containers. You can also tightly wrap them or use a freezer bag. Regardless of what you use, the key is to remove as much air as possible. If using a container, fill it almost completely to the top, leaving a very small amount of space for expansion during freezing.
  • Before freezing, put your food in shallow containers for quick cooling. Be sure that you don’t let food sit out at room temperature for more than 2 hours.
  • Don’t over-pack your freezer, which will block the air circulation. For proper freezing, you want it to stay at 0 degrees C (32 degrees F).
  • Freshness and quality at the time of freezing can make a big difference in taste. If a food is frozen while at peak quality, or soon after it is prepared, it will taste better when thawed than if you freeze it several days later.

Thawing Safety

You should never thaw food at room temperature or on your kitchen counter. This can leave your food unsafe to eat. Here are 3 ways to safely thaw frozen food:

  1. Place it in the refrigerator ahead of time to thaw. Thawing time will depend on the amount of food you are thawing.
  2. Fill a bowl or sink with cold water. Put the food in a leak-proof sealable plastic bag and immerse it in the water. Change the water every 30 minutes, and cook immediately after thawing is complete. 
  3. Thaw the food in your microwave using the defrost feature and cook it immediately after thawing.

Freezable Recipe Ideas

Here are just a few tasty make-ahead meals that you can try freezing for a later date:

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