6 Tips for Safely Freezing Your Homemade Foods

A beautifully stocked and organized freezer.
A beautifully stocked and organized freezer. | Source

I enjoy lining up freezer-safe containers on my kitchen countertops, filling them with my homemade foods, labeling them, and arranging them on freezer shelves. There’s huge satisfaction in this simple act because later, when I open the freezer door, I see the fruits of my labor and know I will have delicious, healthy food any time I want. Here are some tips from my kitchen to yours for safely freezing homemade foods.

1 - Have Freezing Supplies at Hand

Have a supply of freezer-safe containers, plastic bags, aluminum foil, and plastic wrap on hand as well as permanent markers and Scotch tape. Keep these supplies conveniently located so that you don’t have to go hunting for them.

2 - Freeze Foods Soon after They've Been Cooked

Freeze cooked foods after they’ve cooled down a bit either on the countertop or in the refrigerator. The same day is best, the next day is next-best. Don’t wait three or four days after cooking to move foods to the freezer. If you do, much of the flavor and nutrition will be lost.

3 - Choose the Right Containers for the Right Foods

Any food which is liquid or partially liquid, such as a soup or stew, or is soft and can be mashed down into a container, such as mashed potatoes or mashed rutabaga, can be stored safely in rigid freezer containers.

But if you are freezing solid foods such as blanched vegetables, you are best off using a plastic bag.

Breads and cakes do best with a tight wrap of aluminum foil which you then place in a sealable plastic bag.

Selecting the right container or wrap will assure the longest freezer life possible for your homemade foods.

 

4 - Remove Air from the Freezer-safe Packages

Trapped air is the death of frozen foods. It is the primary cause of freezer burn.

For plastic bags, either suck the air out with your mouth or invest in a vacuum food sealing machine that does that for you.

For rigid containers, fill them to a point where, when you press down on the lid, there’s little space between the food and the lid. This is an art. Food expands as it freezes, so the freezing food may pop the lid or not. Experience will guide you here. If in doubt, under-fill a rigid container and then press plastic wrap onto the surface of the food, expelling air as you go. Seal with the cover and freeze.

5 - Label the Containers

Be sure to label your frozen homemade foods with the contents and the date you put them in the freezer.

I think we’ve all rummaged through mystery packages in our freezers, wondering what was inside them and when they were frozen because they weren’t labeled.

Use a permanent marker to label the packages with the date and contents. Write directly on plastic bags, but for freezer-safe containers, which you will probably want to use again, stick a length of Scotch tape to the top or side of the container and enter the date and contents on the tape. When it’s time to empty the container for a meal, the tape will come off easily and you can use the container again without there being writing you can’t remove.

6 - Inventory Your Homemade Frozen Foods

Once a week or so, take an inventory of what’s in your freezer. Look at the package labels for contents and date frozen, and make a plan to use the oldest foods first. All frozen foods have a point-of-no-return, where they just aren’t good anymore. You can follow these general guidelines for the life span of frozen foods, courtesy of Ohio State University.

Homemade Foods from Sally’s Kitchen that Freeze Well

When you’re in the mood for trying something new, take a look at these recipes. All are made to serve 6 to 10 people.

If you have a small family or are cooking only for yourself, make the entire recipe anyway, eat what you want on the spot, and then freeze the rest for convenient, quick meals.

What Do You Think?

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© 2011 Sally's Trove. All rights reserved.

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Comments 43 comments

Patricia Rae profile image

Patricia Rae 5 years ago from Crystal Beach, Ontario, Canada

These are some very good tips. Food safety nowadays is so important. Thanks Sally's Trove for some great tips.


Sally's Trove profile image

Sally's Trove 5 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania Author

Thanks, Patricia Rae, for reading and commenting. When we make good food, we need to preserve it safely so that we can enjoy it later.


chirls profile image

chirls 5 years ago from Indiana (for now)

Great advice! I'm usually pretty good about labelling my frozen foods, but I still find mystery foods in the freezer from time to time. I'm very jealous of the level of organization of the freezer pictured - I'm sure I'll never achieve that but at least it gives me something to strive for!


jtrader profile image

jtrader 5 years ago

Lol. I love doing this too. I like knowing that there's a healthy, balanced meal in the freezer, already prepared.


Feline Prophet profile image

Feline Prophet 5 years ago from India

ST, if my freezer looked anything like the one in the picture I would be one happy cat! :D


Sally's Trove profile image

Sally's Trove 5 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania Author

You got it, jtrader! Thanks for reading and commenting.


Sally's Trove profile image

Sally's Trove 5 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania Author

Isn't that freezer gorgeously packed, FP? Something that raises the bar for me. One day I'll have to write the story of the 10-year old frozen spring chicken. You'll like the story, it's got a cat in it. :)


CollB 5 years ago

I like to refrigerate my food as I have leftovers - I could follow this procedure though with what I need to refrigerate.


Sally's Trove profile image

Sally's Trove 5 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania Author

CollB, I love to cook for a crowd, even though I live alone. It's an old habit not worth breaking, because I freeze what I don't eat and always have something good and tasty to whip out of the freezer for a quick meal. Homemade cooked food is always good in the refrigerator for up to three days, but if I know I can't get through that amount of food in three days, into the freezer the leftovers go. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!


Sally's Trove profile image

Sally's Trove 5 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania Author

chirls, I totally understand. I do keep up with the freezer and follow my own advice, mostly, but every now and again a visitor intervenes and kindly places something in there to be kept, then something gets knocked to the back or the bottom, or I'm in a hurry and just throw something in there without a label, and Voila!, a mystery package eventually appears. Thanks so much for your comment! I think we are all freezer-challenged, at least to some degree.


viking305 profile image

viking305 5 years ago from Ireland

Yes I agree with you. I cook my own soup, burgers, meat dishes and freeze them all. It is healthy and so much handier to take out of the freezer when needed


Sally's Trove profile image

Sally's Trove 5 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania Author

viking, amen to that!


trish1048 profile image

trish1048 5 years ago

This makes so much sense. Unfortunately, I am not one to freeze much of anything, mostly because whatever I've made gets eaten within 2-3 days lol. Of course, I do not live alone, so I have lots of help with that. This is, of course, good to remember when a very large meal is made. I could take a few portions and freeze it before anyone can eat it all in one or two sittings :) Then, when someone says, there's nothing to eat, voila! well, open the freezer! One question, does a scotch tape label lend itself to readability? I'm thinking marker doesn't write well on it.


KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

KoffeeKlatch Gals 5 years ago from Sunny Florida

Sally, get tips. Yhey all make sense. It's great to be able to eat homemade food without having to cook all the time. It would be wonderful to be able to open your freezer and pull out a delicious homemade meal after a long day at work.


Sally's Trove profile image

Sally's Trove 5 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania Author

Trish, a permanent marker like a Sharpee writes well on anything.

I like your strategy for removing some of the food to the freezer before it's served!


Sally's Trove profile image

Sally's Trove 5 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania Author

KKG, something I do often is freeze an entire single-portion dinner in one container, for example, roasted chicken, mashed rutabaga, and broccoli. To help prevent freezer burn, I cover the surface of the food with plastic wrap, as close to the food surface as I can get it, and then seal with a lid. Pop one of those babies into the microwave one cold winter's night! Thanks for the good words!


Jennifer Burss profile image

Jennifer Burss 5 years ago from Michigan

Thank you Sally's Trove for the tips. I will be checking out the recipe hubs too. Especially,the beef stew, sounds delicious.


DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 5 years ago from Oakley, CA

Great hub!

We have a vacuum sealer, and it will even re-seal commercial plastic fozen food bags, so if you don't use up all the veggies or fries, they won't be escaping!

I'd like to add this tip: if you don't have a vacuum sealer, instead of trying to just use your mouth to vacuum seal plastic bags, it's much easier (and more sanitary) to insert a drinking straw into one corner of the bag, but not touching the contents. Press the zipper seal shut to where it is tight against the straw, and suck the air out. In one motion as you pull out the straw (while maintaining suction), slide the zip closure the rest of the way shut. Presto! Vacuum-sealed bag on the cheap!


Hello, hello, profile image

Hello, hello, 5 years ago from London, UK

A well comprehensive, information hub.


DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 5 years ago from Oakley, CA

@trish1048--

I've actually found that scotch tape does not stay stuck well in the freezer. I either write directly on the bags, or use freezer tape. It resembles masking tape, but is designed for use in the freezer, and can (usually!) be found in the same aisle with all the food storage supplies.

One more tip: write on the bags BEFORE you fill them. If you're bagging cold items, they will almost immediately start to form condensation on the outside, and no marker will write on a wet surface.


Sally's Trove profile image

Sally's Trove 5 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania Author

MsLizzy, thanks for that tip about the straw and the ziplock bag. One of the reasons I don't use ziplock bags for freezing foods is that it's hard to get the air out. I'll definitely try this. Straws are on my grocery list.


Sally's Trove profile image

Sally's Trove 5 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania Author

H,h, thanks for your good words!


Sally's Trove profile image

Sally's Trove 5 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania Author

Jennifer, glad you find these freezer tips useful.


d.william profile image

d.william 5 years ago from Somewhere in the south

Good hub. I learned a few things about freezing foods. I especially liked the tip from dzymslizzy about using a straw to take out the air.. Thanks.


Sally's Trove profile image

Sally's Trove 5 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania Author

I like that straw tip, too, d.william. Glad you found this Hub useful!


SUSIE DUZY profile image

SUSIE DUZY 5 years ago from Delray Beach, Florida

thanks for the tips


Deni Edwards profile image

Deni Edwards 5 years ago from california

Great tips! I just took out of the freezer a container of what I thought was chili and bought some chips and sour cream. I opened up the container--it was spaghetti sauce.


Sally's Trove profile image

Sally's Trove 5 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania Author

SUSIE, you are so welcome!

Deni, your comment cracked me up. You have lots of company. I've been there many times, too. So how did those chips, sour cream, and spaghetti sauce taste? :)


gypsumgirl profile image

gypsumgirl 5 years ago from Vail Valley, Colorado

Thanks for the tips! I particularly appreciated tip #4. Never really thought about the type of container as a factor to consider!! Thank you for another useful hub!!


Sally's Trove profile image

Sally's Trove 5 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania Author

Glad you find these tips useful, gypsumgirl. Tip 4 I learned from an enormously talented friend when I spent time on her dairy farm helping her can and freeze. She had a large family to feed, and nothing went to waste. We spent many afternoons sucking air out of plastic freezer bags (not the zip & lock kind), laughing ourselves silly. If you haven't already, take a look at DzyMsLizzy's first comment above for how to take air out of a zip & lock bag with a straw. Thanks so much for reading and commenting.


Fay Paxton 5 years ago

Sally these are excellent tips that I will most certainly put to use.


Sally's Trove profile image

Sally's Trove 5 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania Author

Fay, thank you so much for reading and commenting.


Bethany Culpepper 5 years ago

I love this - it's great to be prepared ahead of time. I freeze a lot of food and assemble the meal later. Thanks!


Sally's Trove profile image

Sally's Trove 5 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania Author

Bethany, good for you! It makes a day so much easier if you can just take something from the freezer for dinner.


carrie450 profile image

carrie450 5 years ago from Winnipeg, Canada

Thank you so much for these great tips on freezing Sally. This hub is a great help.


Sally's Trove profile image

Sally's Trove 5 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania Author

Carrie, thanks for the good words. I'm glad you found these tips helpful.


toknowinfo profile image

toknowinfo 5 years ago

Thanks for this well thought out hub. Your tips are so practical. Rated up and useful.


Sally's Trove profile image

Sally's Trove 5 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania Author

You are welcome, tki. Thanks so much for the up and useful ratings!


Dale Hyde profile image

Dale Hyde 4 years ago from Tropical Paradise on Planet X

A most interesting and informative hub. I do most of what you mention here, however, such as labeling, well, I never have stuck to that, but I know I need to. I like the caption under the photo in regards to "mystery packages"..as I am pretty familiar with them, lol! A very well stocked and organized freezer you have full of frozen foods that you will certainly enjoy! Voted up!


Sally's Trove profile image

Sally's Trove 4 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania Author

Dale, I know exactly what you mean. I don't always label things as I should, and every now and again I look at a mystery package. It doesn't happen too often.

These days, I've got visuals in my mind, like the blue-topped containers hold the dog juice, or the red-topped containers hold soup for humans. We adjust. TY for the thoughtful comment. :)


Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 4 years ago from California Gold Country

I'm glad this popped up, since I missed it the first time around. Thanks for the great tips. I really don't use my freezer to full advantage, but I'm going to try to do better. (Note to self: buy straws.)


Sally's Trove profile image

Sally's Trove 4 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania Author

LOL Rochelle...I'll just continue to suck the air out mouth to bag. But I do like the idea of straws. Whatever works! TY for one of your always awesome comments. :)


Kristen Howe profile image

Kristen Howe 16 months ago from Northeast Ohio

Great tips Sheri on how to safely freeze your foods--I've forgotten about sucking the air out of my frozen fruits in the freezer. I hope it's okay. Voted up for useful!

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