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How to Freeze Make Ahead Meals

Updated on August 22, 2010

One of the best ways to save time and make sure that you always have good food available for a last minute meal is to cook large portions of freezer friendly foods when you have time to cook, and then freeze the leftovers for later.

There are many benefits to preparing make ahead freezer meals, and most people really like the idea of having prepared meals waiting for them at home.

If you're going to prepare extra food to freeze for later, it's important that you follow the correct procedures for safely storing your meals and protecting them from freezer burn.

Follow these tips for how to freeze make ahead meals, and you'll be sure to be pleased with the results.

Proper Freezer Storage

One of the biggest causes of freezer burn is storing food in the refrigerator that is not properly sealed. If you don't freeze food in airtight packaging, it won't be fit to eat when you thaw it. You should prepare food for freezing by using airtight freezer containers, freezer bags, freezer paper, or vacuum-sealed packages to protect food from freezer burn. Before you place your package in the freezer, be certain that it is completely sealed.

If you're freezing liquid foods, such as soup or marinara sauce, be very careful not to fill the storage container all the way to the top. These types of foods expand somewhat when they freeze, and if the container is too full, the lid can pop off and break, creating a freezer burned mess for you to have to clean up.

Properly Label Packages

Before you place the sealed packages in the freezer, be sure to label them. Include the date the dish was prepared, as well as a recipe name or description of the contents. Packages that go into the freezer unlabeled generally remain uneaten.

It's a good idea to get in the habit of selecting freezer meals to eat in the order that they were frozen. This prevents you from discovering forgotten meals when it's too late to enjoy them.

Avoid Freezing Foods That Don't Freeze Well

Keep in mind that some foods just don't do well in the freezer. Some dishes work perfectly as freeze ahead meals, and others are a disaster waiting to happen.

You shouldn't freeze anything that contains mayonnaise, yogurt, or sour cream, as these ingredients will separate when frozen. You also shouldn't try to freeze gravy, hollandaise sauce, or any other cream-based sauce. The same goes for desserts that include custard or cream filling of any type.

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  • Solorya profile image

    Solorya 10 years ago from Oklahoma

    Good tips! My mom did this growing up but not everything turned out--I don't think she followed all your rules! Thanks!

  • Jerome Vrega profile image

    Jerome Vrega 10 years ago from Florence, KY

    Good advice. Thanks for the article.

  • blessedmommy profile image

    Carisa Gourley 10 years ago from Oklahoma City Metro, Oklahoma

    Great tips! This is a really good habit to get into. With kids it's handy. I also know some elderly people who didn't eat right since they were cooking for one. They would just grab whatever, whenever. This would be something excellent to help them do. Spend a day once a month or so with them cooking and freezing. They will greatly appreciate the company, since many single elderly people don't have many visitors, and you'll be helping them stay healthy and eat right.

  • Katherine Baldwin profile image

    Katherine Baldwin 10 years ago from South Carolina

    Great Hub, mgwhite. Cooked potatoes do not freeze well either. The flavor is still good, but the texture turns grainey. If possible, substitute pasta in the dish for potatoes. If find that the two are interchangeable in a lot of recipes. With everyones busy schedule, this Hub gives great advice for a quick, healthy meal when you don't have time to cook.

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