I don’t know about you but these days, the freezer has become a lifesaver—it helps me preserve food for later in the week or even month.
I always thought that freezing food can help you enormously when it comes to planning, prepping, and cooking for your family. Also, it prevents you from wasting food and saves you both time and money, which, in times like the ones we’re living in now, is the number one priority.
Not to mention that frozen produce tastes much fresher and has more nutrients than canned produce. And who doesn’t want to be able to cook delicious, wholesome meals for their family at all times?
In this journal, I’m going to share with you everything you need to know about freezing food. If you want to learn what can be frozen and what you should avoid freezing, how you can freeze food properly, and what you can do to keep your freezer organized, keep reading.
To freeze or not to freeze?
We’ll start with the basics. There are some foods that you can easily freeze without any problems and some that don’t freeze well at all because they suffer essential changes in flavour and texture.
You CAN freeze
✅ Meat – beef, pork, lamb, poultry, ground meat and poultry, cooked meat and poultry, fish
✅ Fruits such as berries such as raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, currants, cranberries, etc., bananas, mango, pineapple, stone fruits such as peaches, nectarines, plums, and cherries
✅ Vegetables and legumes such as bell peppers, carrots, beans, spinach, mushrooms, peas, zucchini, corn, broccoli, etc.
✅Fresh herbs and nuts
✅ Chicken broth and soup
✅ Milk – absorbs the scent of whatever food it’s stored near, so it is best to keep it away from other pungent foods. I also highly recommend, consuming within one month.
✅ Eggs (out of shell)
✅ Butter, margarine and hard cheeses
✅ Bread (cooked or dough) and puff pastry
✅ Pasta sauce (homemade or store-bought)
✅ Cooked pasta and homemade pizza
✅ Cooked grains, casserole, and stew
✅ Desserts such as pancakes, cookies (cooked or dough), cake, pie, and cheesecake
You should AVOID freezing
❌ High water content vegetables such as lettuce, tomatoes, celery, cucumbers, radishes, and raw potatoes
❌ High water content fruits such as melons, citrus (juice can be frozen), apples, and pears
❌ Soft cheeses such as ricotta, cottage cheese, and cream cheese
❌ Eggs in shells or hard-boiled eggs
❌ Fried foods
❌ Deli meats
❌ Gravies and sauces thickened with cornstarch or flour
❌ Mayonnaise or cream-based salad dressings
❌ Desserts such as custards, cream pies, pudding, and milkshakes
How to properly freeze your food and make the most out of your freezer
First of all, make sure that the temperature inside the freezer is -18° Celsius as this helps freeze your food as quickly as possible.
When it comes to the tools you need, choose plastic bags/containers or wraps if you’re freezing food for a short period of time. For longer periods, I highly recommend vacuum sealing your food as it keeps it airtight and prevents freezer burn. Also, if you do put your food in a plastic bag, don’t freeze it when it still has a lot of air inside—if there’s air, there’s a freezer burn. Get as much air as possible out of the bags.
Secret tip: You can use ice cube trays to store foods such as stock, herbs (either with a bit of water or oil), eggs, and blended fruits or greens such as spinach.
One of the most important things to keep in mind when freezing food—and I can’t stress this enough—is to label all the food you put in your freezer by adding its name and the date. This way everything is nice and organised.
You should always freeze the food at peak quality so that it will be at its best when you defrost it. This is especially important for fruits and vegetables as they start losing their nutrients once harvested.
In general, I recommend you aim for smaller portions when freezing food so that you prevent waste and decrease defrosting time – think of single servings or family servings. However, when you freeze liquids such as soup or milk, make sure you leave enough headspace as they expand during the freezing process.
Before putting the food in the freezer, check that it has completely cooled off – if not, put it in a bowl with ice water to speed up the process. I mention this as you mustn’t freeze hot/warm food because it can thaw the surrounding foods in your freezer and it will also take a longer time to freeze.
Another thing, make sure not to overfill your freezer—if it’s too full, the air won’t circulate which can lead to freezer burn. If you’re like me and you love freezing your meals or leftovers, try to use at least one meal from your freezer a week. You can easily forget what you freeze after some time and you definitely don’t want to wake up to a jam-packed freezer (trust me).
When you want to thaw your food, you must choose the safest way – either put it in the fridge for a couple of hours or use the microwave defrost setting. Avoid thawing food at room temperature as this can increase the risk of contamination.
Also, try to avoid refreezing food after you’ve defrosted it to preserve food quality. The only thing I refreeze is puff pastry.
In case of a power outage, don’t open the door to your freezer. The cool air inside the freezer will keep the food safe for at least 24 hours, so don’t panic. That’s enough time for you to solve the issue and save your food.
Finally, I know that this task is easy to forget but make sure to defrost and clean your freezer at least once or twice a year.
Freezer-friendly recipes that will make your life easier
Here are some of my recipes that are safe to freeze once cooked so that you can enjoy them later in the week:
- Tomato Noodle Soup: Stock up on freezing Tomato Noodle Soup.
- Lentil and Spinach Soup: perfect for a healthy frozen meal.
- Caramelised Onion Quiche: for a savoury and satisfying quick snack or lunch box food.
- Eggplant and Chickpea Stew: a freezer-friendly hearty side dish.
- White Bean Stew: a freezer staple for busy nights.
- String Bean Stew: freeze for a quick and easy weeknight meal.
- One-Pot Spinach and Rice Pilaf: freezer ready for a stress-free meal.
- Spaghetti with Beef Tomato Sauce: freeze for classic comfort food.
While most of these meals can be frozen for later, it’s best to avoid freezing rice or pasta. Boiling or steaming rice and pasta takes minimal time and effort, so feel free to make them fresh on the day of serving.
Here are some sweeter options:
- Chocolate Orange Cake: Freeze by wrapping it tightly in plastic wrap, then placing it in an airtight container or freezer bag and storing it in the freezer for up to 3 months.
- Semolina Cake: Save time, slice and freeze semolina cake for future cravings.
- Simple Homemade Pancakes: Stack ’em high, and freeze pancakes for a quick breakfast.
- Rolled Oats Cookies: Bake once, and enjoy Rolled Oats Biscuits all month long.
- Pistachio and Coconut Chocolate Log: Indulge in Pistachio and Coconut Chocolate Log anytime, just freeze.
- Blackberry and White Chocolate Cheesecake – Thaw, garnish, and enjoy!
- Perfectly Moist Banana Bread – Savour the flavour of this scrumptious banana bread by freezing and thawing as needed for a delightful treat anytime.
By freezing recipes before cooking, you’re not only saving time on meal prep but also ensuring that you can have a hot, freshly-prepared meal without the time and effort required for preparing the ingredients on the day of cooking. Whether it’s a busy weeknight or just a lazy day, these frozen recipes are a lifesaver. Some of my go-to recipes to freeze before cooking include, marinated oven-roasted chicken chops, and puff pastry recipes. Here are a few of my favourites:
- Sausage Rolls – Once you have brushed with milk and sprinkled with sesame seeds, freeze before baking.
- Spinach and Leek Pie – Line a tray that fits into your freezer with baking paper and place the uncooked pies on it, making sure they don’t touch one another. Let them freeze overnight. Once frozen, place the pies in a plastic bag and get them back into the freezer.
- Mini Za’tar Man-oushi – Cut into the desired size and with a fork, prick each dough all over. Freeze on a flat tray and fry later.
- Shish-Barak Lamb Dumplings – Freeze them uncooked on a flat tray. Once frozen, place them in a bag or container and back into the freezer. When you decide to make Shish-Barak, cook up the yogurt sauce, add frozen dumplings and your meal is ready.
- Barbecue Chicken Wings – Marinate the chicken wings and unfreeze them anytime for a quick lunch/dinner
- Spicy Lamb Pastries – Freeze them uncooked on a flat tray. Once frozen, place them in a bag or container and back into the freezer. No need to thaw out when you’re ready to enjoy them.
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