Fall is almost here (officially at least, the warm weather is making me feel differently). With fall comes some of my favourite comfort foods including soup, chili, stew, and roasted chicken. When making meals that take some extra time, it's beneficial to make big batches and freeze some for busy weeknights to help ensure you and your family are eating healthy. Storing food in the freezer will help you save time, money, and energy in the kitchen. But how do you ensure that you’re freezing foods correctly?
Here are 6 tips that will help take the guesswork out of freezing leftover food.
1. Be sure to cool foods prior to freezing them.
Cooked foods will cool down faster if they are left uncovered, transferred to shallow dishes and then placed in the refrigerator. Cooling foods at room temperature for prolonged periods of time may cause harmful bacteria to grow.
2. Seal your food well.
Prevent freezer burn by wrapping foods properly using aluminum foil/plastic wrap or freezer-appropriate bags/containers.
3. Portion out food before you freeze it.
It is best to freeze foods in small portions because it is not safe to re-freeze foods after they have been thawed. This is because bacteria can multiply rapidly in thawed food, especially at room temperature. However, if you happen to thaw extra food, make sure to cook it, cool it and then re-freeze it.
4. Make sure to label your foods.
It is important to create labels that indicate when the food was frozen. This will help you remember how long a certain food item has been in the freezer and how soon it should be used up.
*It is important to note that cooked meat, stews, egg or vegetable dishes and gravies/meat broths can be stored in the freezer for approximately 2-3 months. Soups can be kept in the freezer for up to 4 months while cooked poultry and fish can be stored for approximately 4-6 months.
5. When in doubt, throw it out.
If you feel that an item has started to defrost or if you are unsure of how long something has been in the freezer, do not consume it.
6. Make sure the temperature of the freezer is -18 ºC.
Check the temperature of the freezer using a thermometer and make sure the freezer isn’t overly full.
I (Angela) work as a coordinator and health educator with the Guelph Family Health Study, a longitudinal study developing and testing ways to help families maintain healthy behaviours over many years.
We create cookbooks seasonally to provide our families with simple healthy recipes and meal ideas. Check out or big batch cook book for freezer friendly meal ideas, including my very own rainbow chili recipe (click here for a PDF copy).
Until next time,
Eat Right Feel Right - Benish Syed and Angela Wallace
Canadian Partnership for Consumer Food Safety and Education (2017). Storage Chart. Retrieved from: http://befoodsafe.ca/be-food-safe/storage-chart/