Taking a day of your week to plan ahead by cooking all the meals you may need so you can save a lot of time sounds like a pretty cool idea, right? Made more food than necessary and is now wondering what to do with those leftovers to avoid food waste? But, can you freeze freshly meals? If you are looking for those answers, we will have them listed in this article.
Either you accidentally cooked more food than needed or want to save your own time by making the meals previously, the freezing process of fresh meals is a great solution.
But, if you are not sure if the meal or ingredient you are planning to make will still be good after being frozen or if they will have the same freshness, taste and quality as before we will give you the best tips.
For how long can you freeze freshly meals?
By freezing the meals, you will prevent them from going bad and getting spoiled after only a few days and by freezing freshly meals they will last longer and taste even better when defrosted than the meals at the end of their freshness.
It is recommended to store the meals – or all types of frozen foods – at 0º or lower so the ingredients do not lose any color, flavor, or nutrients.
Make sure to let the freshly made meals cools before you put them in the freezer. Do not freeze meals straight from the oven, since the exposition to both extreme temperatures can make the ingredients to go bad or behave different than expected.
But of course the longer the meals stay in the freezer the less fresh or appealing they will be when you consume then, especially if you keep them stored in a freezer where they will moved too frequently, the doors will get opened and closed and they get in touch with air.
So, there is not much a timing rule for frozen meals. Pay close attention to when they were made, what is their content – if there is a big quantity of water in it – what seasoning did you used on them, etc. Some meals will last for weeks and some will last for many months, even up to a year.
Track the date de meals were made and when they were store in the freezer and keep checking the appearance. If anything looks out of place, with a weird color, smell, or texture, do not consume it to avoid food poisoning.
What meals can you freeze?
Basically, almost every freshly made meal can be frozen to expend their life span, but some of them will last longer without losing the original flavor and texture.
Meals with bigger water content or liquid-base will be the best and easiest ones to freeze. So, if you are planning on freezing soups, chili, stews, or meatloaf, they will freeze well, last longer and taste the same after defrosting.
Vegetables are also great ingredients to be frozen. Cook them lightly, try not to add any seasoning in it, add them in airtight compartments separately and store them in the freezer.
If your meal has a lot of fat content, do not freeze it right after you made it. First, you will have to remove the fat content completely before putting it in the freezer. If you leave the fat, your meal will spoil even frozen.
How to freeze freshly meals
The best tip on how to freeze freshly meals is to separate them in small portions in airtight or sealed compartments. It is important not to let the air in touch with the meals.
By separating the meals in smaller portions, you will guarantee they that will get completely frozen – especially because the domestic freezers we have at home are not as cold as the commercial freezer – and later you can defrost and heat just the portions you may need. So, there will be no risk of defrosting everything just to consume a small part. Also, by freezing in smaller portions you will prevent the freezer burn.
Another good option is to store the more liquid-content meals in gallons.
Do not forget to add a label with the ingredients in the meal, the date it was made and the date it was frozen so you can keep track of the time and not waste anything.
Ingredients to avoid
Some ingredients do not work well when frozen and should not be store likes this. So, keep those away from the freezing process.
Avoid freezing lettuce, watermelon, melons, fully cooked pasta, cooked potatoes and some dairy products like yogurt and sour cream.
How to defrost freshly meals
Take the portion you will need from the freezer and let it sit overnight in the fridge to defrost completely – it will take around 5 hours to defrost one pound. Do not defrost the food in room temperature since it will increase the chances of contamination.
If you do not have enough time you can heat the portion in the microwave for a few minutes or, in the case of the liquid-content meals, they can go straight to a pan.
Freshly made meals can and should be frozen to expand their duration and save you some precious time when cooking it previously. It is an awesome solution to let your meals already cooked and stored so, when you need it, you just need to defrost and heat.
By taking all the necessary precautions before freezing the meals, not freezing meals closed to be expired or still hot, and when defrosting it, by not letting it defrost or thaw in room temperature, you will have fresh lunches and dinners easy and ready to be consumed, with no risks of contamination. Also, the nutritional values and quality of the meals get almost untouched.
So, you can cook your meals, separate them in small portions, freeze them in airtight compartments and you will be good to go.