Best way to freeze meals
Looking for the best way to freeze meals in your 5 Dinners 1 Hour plan? We know you need to (or really want to) from time to time so check out our best tips to do right from start to finish.
There are lots of freezer meals in our plan designed to go from freezer to table safely but there may be days you didn’t eat a meal you prepped ahead for the fridge and want to save it—so you drop in to our Facebook group and ask “What’s the best way to freeze this meal? Can it even be done?” And the answer is: it depends. Here’s what you need to know:
Freeze when your meal is fresh.
Remember that food on the edge of spoiling when you freeze it will still be on the edge of spoiling when you thaw it and eat it later. Freezing food doesn’t kill bacteria and when you thaw it, those bad bacteria will pick up where they left off. So if you need to freeze, only freeze meals at their best.
Know what vegetables you can freeze.
Most vegetables freeze really well and if they are going in a soup, stew or other slow cooked dish it’s perfectly fine to freeze them. However some vegetables don’t freeze very well and become really watery or soft when they thaw. These include vegetables with a high water content like mushrooms, lettuce, cucumbers, radishes or bean sprouts.
If you plan to thaw a dish with vegetables in it and want to roast it so they veggies get crispy and brown, keep in mind that’s going to be hard to do. Vegetables send out a lot of water when they thaw and become much softer than their fresh versions so they won’t get crispy after they’ve been frozen.
You can freeze the cheese (but not much other dairy). Full fat shredded cheeses and cream cheese are fine to freeze. They’ll be just as gooey as ever when you use them. But some dairy like yogurt, low fat cream cheese, heavy cream and cottage cheese go watery in the freezer. Egg based sauces like mayonnaise or hollandaise sauce will also curdle when frozen.
You still have to thaw it.
It’s not safe to just plop a frozen block of meat and veggies on a sheet pan and put it in the oven. The best way to freeze meals and then use them is to bring them out of the freezer a day before and let them thaw in the fridge before use. This ensures even cooking and that the center of any meat reaches the proper internal temperature in the right amount of time.
Properly package your food.
Freezer burn happens when cold air comes in to contact with the surface of your food and can change the texture and flavor of your meals in ways you won’t enjoy. That’s why it’s so important to protect your meals. Choose freezer bags (not storage bags, which are thinner) for freezing your food and it’s fine to double bag them. Try to get out as much of the excess air as you can, then freeze your food flat so it gets cold (and thaws) faster. Try to use your 5 Dinners 1 Hour meals within a month of freezing.
5 Dinners 1 Hour is glad to help you find the best way to freeze meals in your own kitchen so you can save money and time. So the next time you find one of your precious prepped meals in the fridge and know you won’t get to eat it as planned, consider freezing it and see if it makes the cut—and if you know your schedule leans more toward freezer-friendly meals, you can check out all of our options when you subscribe to one of our Custom or Clean Meal Plans. There’s something for everyone!