Determining the shelf and freezer life of our recipes is important. There are some great tricks to know when it comes to making the most of freezer space. This comes in handy when you’re trying to save on your grocery bill and avoid unnecessary food waste.
Here’s how to make sure you’re storing food correctly in the freezer:
Freezer storage tips
Freezer bags save space
Storing food in the appropriate container maximizes space. Freezer bags are one of the best options for soups, stews, fruit, vegetables. Kitchen tip: For hot liquids, let them cool first before ladling into a heavy-duty freezer bag. Once fully cooled, place them on their side and freeze solid in a single layer. Once frozen, you can stack items to save significant space.
Freezer labels keep things organized
Always have a permanent marker on hand that will withstand the freezer frost and moisture. Label each item, and mark the ‘date in’, as well as the ‘date out’. It is also helpful to include any cooking instructions. This will help you avoid losing track of what’s in your freezer.
Freeze family-size portions for easy meals
Big batch cooking is a huge time-saver. But, in order to make the most of your frozen meals, freeze them in the appropriate portion size to suit you or your family. Refreezing after thawing is not recommended, so make the most of your hard work.
How to freeze food properly
Minimize air exposure
Remove as much air as possible from freezer bags and storage containers to prevent freezer burn. If your storage container is only partially full, lay a piece of waxed paper or plastic wrap over the top of your food to minimize exposure to air, then continue packaging.
Freeze individual items on a tray first
To avoid crushing goods such as berries, cookies or appetizers, freeze them on a flat tray and then transfer to a freezer bag once frozen.
Food that freezes well
This is an ideal meal that reheats beautifully. Beef and chicken both work very well. Thaw in your refrigerator overnight and you are ready to go. Add some freshness by tossing in fresh or frozen vegetables when reheating.
Whether it is a fruit pie or a pot pie, all the work is done once you put it in the freezer. Ideally, pies will be frozen with a cooked filling and a raw dough, however fully cooked pies can also be frozen. No need to thaw, both bake very well from frozen.
If having fresh meat on hand isn’t always doable, purchase fresh meat and then freeze it yourself. Often store-bought frozen meats have added salt and preservatives.
Lasagna and casseroles
These are classics for big-batch cooking. Make multiple and then freeze in aluminum trays in order to free up your bakeware. Thaw overnight to reduce baking time. Top with freshly grated cheese when reheating.
Fruit and berries.
Frozen fruit is far pricier than frozen vegetables. While seasonal fruit and berries are still available, package and freeze them yourself. Be sure to clean and trim prior to freezing. If freezing vegetables, most require a quick blanch first.
Originally published October 2011. Updated January 2021.