Click here to see a pictorial index of recipes that freeze well.
A Few Tips for Safety and Quality
- Foods should never, ever be hot when put into the freezer. Always cool it completely! If it takes too long to freeze, it can grow deadly bacteria.
- Remove as much air from the container as possible. This will help keep the food fresh, as well as take up less space in your freezer.
- Don’t put huge amounts of unfrozen food in your freezer at once. It may take too long to freeze and grow bacteria. It is also hard on your freezer’s motor.
- Frost-free feezers have a defrost cycle that partially thaws the food. That’s why ice cubes will disappear after a time. This thawing and re-freezing reduces the quality of the foods, so either (1) don’t keep food in a frost-free freezer for longer than a month, or (2) use a freezer that is not frost-free.
- Label your containers. I know, you think you’ll remember what’s in that mystery bag, but trust me, you won’t. I’ve defrosted many a mystery meal and have learned the hard way.
So, here’s what I know…
- Chunks of potatoes get mealy, so I don’t freeze them except in soups. Scalloped potatoes, however, freeze fine…don’t ask me why.
- Leftover meats and poultry can be frozen in chunks, slices or cut up small for salads, casseroles, or sandwiches.
- Raw meats and poultry can be frozen in a marinade for faster preparation later.
- Even pasta and pasta dishes can be frozen. Cook it al dente (barely done) and if it is separate (not in a dish), just empty it out of the freezer container, or ziplock bag, into boiling water. It will refresh and be ready to eat just as soon as it heats through…just a few seconds.
- I try to keep cooked rice and quinoa in the freezer. When they have been frozen, they make better pilaf, or you can add them to a salad or reheat them plain.
- Breads and pastries both freeze well and the sweet ones can often be sliced while still frozen. Cookies also freeze well.
- Avocados freeze well. Simply mash them and package them in appropriate sizes. You can mix the flesh with a little lime juice to keep them from turning brown.
- Pesto, too, is a great thing to have on hand in the freezer. Freeze it in small amounts, like 1/4 cups, for easy access later.
- Casseroles , such as lasagna, scalloped potatoes, or even tuna noodle casserole are freezer friendly. You can freeze the entire dish, or divide it into serving portions.
- Some dishes with dairy in them, like baked egg dishes, will separate and look curdled when frozen and thawed, but they will still taste fine…just look weird.
- Don’t freeze whole eggs in the shell – they will explode! You can freeze them out of the shell, if for some reason you want to do that.
- Milk can be frozen. Pour out the top couple of inches to leave room for expansion or your container may break.
- I like to buy grocery items at Costco to save money and I have found I can divide the large containers and freeze the contents in smaller amounts, such as olives, salsa, tortillas, etc.