Freezer Cooking FAQ’s

posted by Andrea | 02/24/2016

freezer cooking faq's

Almost exactly 5 years ago, I shared a post about various different foods that I freeze. At the time, the post was very last-minute and unplanned… I wasn’t even sure if anyone would be interested in knowing what I put in my freezer!

However, over the past 5 years, that post has consistently been one of the most popular posts on my site. It has been shared thousands of times on Facebook and Pinterest and rarely a week goes by that I don’t get more comments and emails regarding that blog post. HUNDREDS of questions about what to freeze, how to freeze, how to defrost, etc. etc. etc.

I feel like that one post somehow turned me into a “freezer food expert” in the eyes of the internet — and while I appreciate the extra blog traffic, I will be the first to admit that I am NOT a freezer food expert.

Yes, we eat freezer meals and baked goods a on a very regular basis, but that doesn’t mean I always do everything “right” or even that there is an official “right way” to put food in the freezer! However, since I get so many questions about freezer cooking, I thought I’d put some of my thoughts and “answers” together in an official blog post.

I should probably mention that Dave and I are not extremely picky about our food. We’ll eat slightly freezer-burned meat, we’ll eat slightly mushy pasta, we’ll even eat meat that’s a bit dry if we have to. If you ARE quite picky about the taste and texture of your food, you might not agree with all the suggestions I make below… that’s fine!

Can I freeze _________?

If I had a nickel for every time someone has emailed me or left a comment asking if they can freeze a certain type of food… I’d be rich!

And even though I’ve frozen lots and lots of different foods, I’m not always able to answer this question with 100% certainty. In my opinion, you can almost freeze anything… so just give it a try!

Ok, I suppose things like lettuce probably won’t freeze well (unless you want to use it for a smoothie). Also, I haven’t had great luck with cooked potatoes as they seem to get quite mushy and/or watery after they defrost.

My advice to you is simply try freezing a small batch of whatever food you’re wondering about. This way, you’ll be able to see first-hand if it works well for you and you won’t waste much food. Also, try doing a Google search for “how to freeze ______”. You’ll most likely find what you’re looking for!

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How should I package _____ for the freezer?

This is another very popular question I’ve gotten over the years…  and once again, I don’t have a clear answer. Personally, I use all kinds of containers and tools to freeze food — just based on what I have on hand.

I like to use square and rectangle containers as much as possible because they stack better and take up less space than round and oval containers (I really like these containers). I also use lots of freezer bags to store broth, stock, sauces, chopped veggies, chopped fruits, sliced and shredded cheeses, ground and shredded meats, etc. The bags stack nicely and hardly take up any space. Plus, I can use different size bags to pre-portion out the amount I need for various recipes (example: 2 c. of broth or 1 lb. ground beef).

I use mostly plastic containers — just because I have more of them, but glass works fine too as long as you leave room for expansion.

I put bread and buns from the store right into the freezer and don’t even take the time to double bag them. We do not feel like our bread every tastes stale or freezer burned… but like I mentioned above, we’re not super picky.

Whenever I freeze full meals, I follow these tips to save freezer-space (and my pans).

Should I cook and/or bake _____ before I freeze it?

Well, this depends…. (and don’t stress, because most times you’ll be fine either way)

If I’m making any sort of soup, stew, casserole, pasta dish, enchiladas, or other “full meal” I cook the ingredients and fully assemble the meal — however, there’s no need to actually bake the finished product in the oven until you’re ready to eat it. For example, if I was making lasagna to put in the freezer, I would boil the noodles, cook the meat/sauce and fully assemble the meal — but I wouldn’t actually bake it in the oven until after I defrosted it on the day we were planning to eat it.

That said, I have also frozen fully cooked lasagna many times. In fact, I just did this 2 weeks ago after making a big batch of lasagna. We ate it for dinner (with company), then had leftovers the next day for lunch. Then I put the rest of it in the freezer for about 20 minutes (just to firm up), cut the partially-frozen lasagna into individual serving sizes, and froze each serving in a zip-top bag for easy lunches.

When it comes to baked goods, I usually bake them before I freeze them — because we like to just pull a handful of various goodies out of the freezer throughout the week. Baked cakes, cupcakes, cookies, bars, brownies, etc. all freeze very well — and I almost always frost my cakes and cupcakes before I freeze them!

But again, there are PLENTY of times when I freeze raw cookie dough (either in containers or in pre-made balls) so we can have “freshly-baked” cookies right from the freezer — so again, there really is no “wrong” way to do this!

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How do I defrost _________?

This question surprised me because I’ve never really given much thought to the defrosting process. But since this was the #2 most-asked question I received, it deserves a response!

Basically, whenever I defrost any breads, muffins, baked goods, baking supplies, candies, cookies, chips, or other pantry items, I just pull it out of the freezer and let it sit on the counter or in our cabinets until it defrosts… and then we eat it.

However, when it comes to dairy products, meat, and other refrigerated items, it’s best to defrost them in the refrigerator. If you’re just defrosting a package of cheese, it will probably be defrosted in a couple of hours. If you’re defrosting a 9″ x 13″ casserole dish or large containers of soup, it will take much longer. I usually try to pull anything I’ll need for dinner out of the freezer the night before.

I’ve definitely forgotten to pull items out of the freezer on time, and then I just resort to defrosting it on the counter. This is not recommended, but I’m just being honest here! We’ve never been harmed or gotten sick by eating food that was defrosted on the counter.

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How long will ______ last after it’s defrosted?

This depends on the type of food.

For example, if you freeze and defrost chicken or milk, it might only last a week until it needs to be cooked or consumed. However, chips, crackers, or nuts should taste fresh for several weeks after they are defrosted.

Basically, I would use common sense and realize that if a food has a pretty long shelf life {crackers and chips} before you freeze it, it should stay fresh for a long time after you defrost it. And if it has a shorter shelf life {milk and chicken} then it probably won’t last as long after you defrost it.

Make sense?

freezer

What type of freezer should I have?

First of all, please don’t go out and purchase a new freezer just to start freezer cooking. If you package your items properly, you can fit A LOT of food in the freezer attached to your refrigerator.

However, if you are already in the market for a freezer, I would most definitely recommend a manual-defrost freezer {NOT a frost-free freezer}. Your food will stay fresher longer and you won’t have to deal with as much freezer burn.

Also, my personal preference is an upright freezer because they are easier to organize and see what you have. But you can actually fit more food per cubic foot in a chest freezer — plus, chest freezers are often a bit cheaper.

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How often do you defrost your freezer?

We honestly don’t have a set “schedule” — we just do it whenever it needs it. It usually works out to be every 2 years. It’s actually on our to-do list right now, as we’re hoping to do it while it’s still quite cold outside (so our food doesn’t defrost as quickly).

Here’s a full post where I shared all the in’s and out’s of how we defrost our freezer.

A few more tips:

  • Label and date EVERYTHING you put in the freezer (I promise, you won’t remember what it is if you don’t label it)
  • Just try it! In my experience, you can freeze almost anything, so just be adventuresome and give it a try.
  • Think about portions — if you only use 1c. of ground beef or ground chicken at a time, then freeze it in 1c. portions. If most of your recipes call for 2c. of broth, then freeze it in 2c. portions. Your food will defrost quicker this way and you won’t have to deal with re-freezing the leftovers.
  • Be frugal. Freezer cooking doesn’t have to be expensive — in fact, it’s actually a great way to save loads of money on groceries! Just start with the freezer you already have, use containers you already have, and stock up on food when it’s on sale.
  • Start small. You do NOT need to invest a ton of time or money into freezer cooking.  Just try freezing one or two meals, one batch of cookies, or one package of rolls. See if you like it and then go from there.

One final thought:

From a personal standpoint, I’ve saved so much time and money by utilizing my freezer and making meals in advance — I honestly can’t imagine NOT having a fully stocked freezer to rely on when I need a quick dinner or we’re asked to bring a treat to work/church/friend/family parties.

I guess that’s why I’ve enjoyed sharing so much about freezer cooking here on my blog. It has really played a crucial role in my ability to simplify meals in our house, and with 3 little kids who LOVE to be by mom when I’m in the kitchen, I’ll take all the help I can get.

HOWEVER, if you don’t like freezer cooking… then don’t do it! I know this might sound silly, but it’s not for everyone, and there is certainly no need to stress out about it or push yourself to do it if you don’t enjoy it or benefit from it.

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OK, there you have it.

I’ve tried to cover the main questions I’ve been asked over the last year — but feel free to leave additional questions in the comments below. I’ll answer as many as I can, and other readers might be able to answer the rest!

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70 comments

  1. Sandi Alonzo

    08/25/2013

    Can I freeze buttermilk?

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  2. Jody

    02/13/2013

    can you freeze cooked meats?

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    Tiffany Reply:

    Great tips and info! I freeze tons of stuff and also can’t imagine not having things in my freezer to rely on. I wanted to answer Jody’s quesiton about freezing cooked meat – yes, yes, and yes! This is probalby what I freeze the most of. I freeze cooked chicken, cooked ground beef, cooked pulled pork, the list goes on. I have shared my chicken and ground beef process with so many people and they love it. For chicken, I stock up on the boneless, skinless chicken breast when it goes on sale. I buy about 10 lbs at a time and the use 3 crockpots or so to cook it all at once. Just throw the chicken in the crockpot, cover with water, and let it cook on low for about 8 hours. Then shred up (it pulls apart so easily with a fork after cooking slowly all day) and freeze in whatever size you want. I usually do about 2 cups per freezer bag and just pull out what I need for a recipe.

    You can do the same thing with ground beef. Sometimes I just brown more than I need for a recipe and then freeze that portion, however, if I’m freezing it in bulk, I do the same thing as with the chicken breasts – I use my crockpot! This works best if you have a rack for your crock pot because then the beef cooks on the rack and doesn’t sit in all the grease. However, if you buy pretty lean beef, or if you aren’t concerned about that, any crockpot will do. Just add a 1/2 inch or so of water on the bottom to keep the meat from drying out and cook on low – normally done in about 6 hours or can do about 4 on high. Just take the ground beef out of the crockpot when done (try to keep it in one piece so it isn’t mixed in with the grease that has cooked out), chop it up and freeze in freezer bags. Sometimes we season it too with taco seasoning or something but usually just leave it plain to put into recipes. This has literally saved me so much time over the years!

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  3. maddy

    02/09/2013

    I’ve had to discard food due to freezer burn. Any suggestions?

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  4. PAT CINCIRIPINI

    02/05/2013

    Can I freeze sour kraut (cooked)?

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  5. ellen

    01/20/2013

    we freeze egg whites that are leftover from making ice cream, then add to scrambled eggs. they stay good for many months. sometimes i’ll break a yolk when separating them so that goes in with the whites too and it’s fine. i haven’t yet tried to use frozen whites for angel food cake but they work fine for scrambled eggs. i’m sure whole eggs would freeze fine by themselves but you’d need pretty big ice cube trays since an egg is 1/4 cup, isn’t it?

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  6. Karen

    01/20/2013

    I don’t know if you have frozen eggs, but we go to Canada every year, and instead of taking eggs in the carton, we scramble a dozen eggs, put them in a zip lock bag, freeze, then use them for cooking in recipes that call for eggs, and also use them for scrambled eggs, and they are great. I don’t know how long you can keep them, but they are frozen for about a month when we use them and they are fine.

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  7. Shirley Steiniger

    01/17/2013

    This is a wonderful site full of all kinds of information. I have just started freezer cooking for my family. Can you freeze uncooked eggs? My thought was to take the egg out of the shell and freeze them in ice cube trays and then transfer to freezer bags? Thaw as needed for cooking. I don’t want to have to scramble until thawed unless I need them scrambled. I may want to fry the egg? Can you freeze this item?

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    Donna Reply:

    Shirley, I have a friend who gives me fresh eggs from her chickens and I’ve frozen yolks and whites separately with excellent results. I usually just put them in a small ziplock, but will try your suggestion of ice cube trays as well for easier portions.

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  8. Nancy

    12/28/2012

    You’re inspiring me to clean out my little freezer while I make space to add another. I have a comment about your earlier note saying you freeze flour. It is actually a good idea to freeze flour, rice, oatmeal, and other grain products for 2 or 3 days at the outset: the freezing kills the weevil eggs that otherwise may hatch and flourish in your warm cupboards. It would be a good idea to keep an open space in your freezer to rotate those grains in and out before you store them in the kitchen.

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  9. Joan

    12/25/2012

    It’s just the two of us, now. We don’t go thru food as quickly as when there were six of us. I portion my bulk (Costco) into vacuum bags, date, and freeze. Then I list each portion on a big sticky on the side of my fridge and cross off as I use. In the freezer, I group the portions into gallon freezer bags labeled beef, chix, pork, etc. with a sharpy, so stuff doesn’t flop around in the bottom of the freezer.

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  10. Sharon

    11/28/2012

    For labels, I use freezer tape; it is inexpensive and sticks to the container, even in the freezer. Is easy to read and you can peel it off easily if you want to reuse the container. You could use different colored magic markers to label different types of food; Cookie dough, main dishes, veggies, etc. Thanks for the ideas; a lot of those foods I hadn’t thought of freezing and since I have a vacuum sealer, I can branch out!

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  11. Patty

    11/17/2012

    This is a great site, Thank you Vicki Powers for spreading the word. I was really happy to see all the food you froze. While I was living in Colorado, what we did not dry, we froze. Nothing went to waste. I wanted to offer a few ideas to freezing fruit. I froze my fruit whole. The only time to cut into them was if you only used them that way. Most vegetables work the same way. Anexample would be Green Peppers. I always freeze a bag of chopped peppers so I could use them as needed. I also freeze the whole pepper after I cut the top off then cleaned out and put the top back on for Stuffed Peppers or make the Stuffed Peppers and freeze them. Just like many veggies, I freeze fruit cut up and whole. Example for whole fruits to freeze are Bing Cherries. I clean them off then stuff bags full to freeze. They make such a great little cold treat, pits and all. Eat them frozen the way you eat them fresh. I did the same thing with most every summer fruit. You can take the skin off fruits like peaches and apricots if you prefer. Remember to never freeze whole fruits or veggies with skin on damp, Mositure causes Freezer Burn.

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  12. Lori

    11/14/2012

    Rice is a wonderful time saver to freeze. Whenever I get a chance, I throw three cups of rice on to cook. I then let it cool and place in gallon zip bags. Whenever, I need a quick meal, I can grab a can of cream soup, a bit of cooked meat and pour it over the rice! I just scoop out the amount that I need. This has saved me tremendous amount of time as my rice usually takes 45 min to cook.

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  13. Barbara

    11/12/2012

    You can freeze Coffee… i always freeze coffee… it keeps it nice and fresh, and you can use it in your coffe pot right out of the freezer!!!!

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  14. Barb

    11/05/2012

    Can you freeze feta cheese and ricotta cheese?

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    Laura Reply:

    I am currently eating some feta that I’d frozen, and it’s delicious! I just stuck the package container in there, then put it in the fridge to defrost.

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  15. Melissa

    10/30/2012

    Thanks so much for your helpful tips! I have been freezing food a long time now as well. Still, you taught me a few things I didn’t know. I love the disposable foil pans you can get at the dollar store for freezing casserole’s of course I reuse the pans, but they are usually 3 for a dollar and cheap! Also, you can freeze almost any kind of cookie dough for at least 6 months (in my experience, it may be longer but it usually doesn’t last that long in our house!) When I make cookies I always double the recipe and put at least half the dough in the freezer for another time. You can cook the dough while frozen and it doesn’t change the taste or texture of the cookies.

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  16. Effie

    10/11/2012

    You can freeze whole bricks of cheese and have them not be crumbly by letting the defrost on the counter until completely defrosted. Usually overnight or longer depending on the size. It should be very soft and squishy. Then put it in the fridge for a few hours and it will be as slice-able as never frozen.

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  17. Julia

    09/19/2012

    I LOVE my flavored creamer. When I used to use the regular flavored, they would freeze wonderfully. Then I tried to freeze the sugar-free type and let me tell you…..Don’t do it. I had curdled creamer. I don’t know why, but it did.

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  18. shirlee

    09/14/2012

    Thanks so much for these recipes. I can’t wait to try this.

    I’m wondering why you add canned foods to the freezer bags instead of waiting to adding them straight from the can to the crock pot. Is it just to save time or do things freeze better if there’s a liquid with them? thanks!

    [Reply]

  19. jennifer

    09/01/2012

    Can I freeze packaged lunch meat?

    [Reply]

  20. Staci

    09/01/2012

    I find I much prefer to freeze almost all my baked goods as unfrozen, especially cookie dough and muffin batter. The roll trick mentioned above works great for cookies, also if you transfer them into the higher temp fridge freezer you can normally scoop them out with an ice cream scoop and cook right from frozen.

    Ditto for the muffin batters, though I find it works best to let them defrost before baking. I make HUGE batches of carrot cake and banana bread and freeze them in flat bags – they take no space and then we get fresh-baked muffins whenever we want.

    I also find that a lot of muffin recipes can be made with rice flour, for the gluten-free option so many need, but sometimes the rice flour can be a little gritty in texture. Simply freezing the batter before baking seems to solve this – to the point that my very picky father didn’t even notice the difference between the carrot muffin flours!

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  21. Mary Sue

    09/01/2012

    I’d be wary about freezing things in glass jars. I have had a few break on me, even with adequate headspace and being cooled in the fridge first (maybe they didn’t cool enough?)

    [Reply]

    Staci Reply:

    The main thing with freezing in glass jars is to make sure they have straight sides. The rounded ‘shoulders’ of styles which narrow down to the opening don’t work at all for the freezer – the food expands up in a straight line and puts too much pressure on the jar. Otherwise, it should work fine – unless you have certain persons in your household who slam things around! ;p

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    Dawn Reply:

    Do the jars have to be “pressure-sealed” for the freezer? I’m making soups and have quite a few perfect portion sized jars but not sealable lids- only screw on.

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  22. Lorena

    08/29/2012

    Cant you just defrost in the microwave instead of letting it thaw on the counter?

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  23. Liesa

    08/27/2012

    Please consider NOT using plastic freezer bags if possible. Some recent scientific studies revealed that when more flexible plastics are exposed to extreme heat or cold, chemicals from the plastic can leak out into the food. the more flexible the plastic, the greater the risk. Better choices are freezer paper, hard plastic, and glass.

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  24. tammy

    08/25/2012

    i also freeze beet tops and swiss char its spinnich like and just wash and bag and freeze

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  25. Shantel

    08/22/2012

    Thank you so much!! VERY helpful 🙂

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  26. Shantel

    08/21/2012

    May sound ridiculous but I am new to all of this and would like to know if you can freeze items in glass containers such as mason jars? or is it preferred just to use the freezer lock plastic storage containers? thank you

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Yes, you can definitely freeze in glass containers, you’ll just want to make sure you leave about an inch of empty space at the top of the container for the expansion after it freezes.

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  27. kira

    07/28/2012

    Hi, I live in Louisiana and one of my family’s favorite dishes is jambalaya. My problem is that when I cook it I have so much left over I have to give it away! I tried to freeze it once but when we decided to defrost it and have for supper one night the rice was sooo mushy it made it taste funny! I froze it in a quart size zip lock. Is there a secret to freezing rice dishes?? I also make a large chicken broccoli and rice casserole that I would love to be able to freeze. :-). Thank you in advance for your help!!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    hmmmm…. I don’t have any great advice for you because I freeze rice in casseroles all the time and it always turns out just fine.

    I’ve never tried Jambalaya, but I do make a chicken/broccoli/rice casserole and freeze it with excellent results. I simply assemble the casserole and then freeze it before warming it in the oven. Then, after I let it defrost, I bake it as directe on the original recipe.

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    Anne Reply:

    Kira, we make Jambalaya but keep the rice in a separate pan & mix the rice in as each person make their serving. That way each thing can be frozen separate. Perhaps you could just take out a portion of the Jambalaya before you add the rice since your batch makes more than you can eat. The other thought that came to mind was perhaps the rice needs a little less cooking so it’s not mushy when you pull it out & reheat it.

    [Reply]

  28. Pat

    06/24/2012

    When you said you put your fresh herbs in ice cube trays, did you mean that you add water to them and freeze them that way? So if you were making a dish, you would just drop the cube with the herb frozen inside..or do you let the cube melt to retrieve the herb?

    [Reply]

  29. Brenda

    06/10/2012

    As the wife of an avid fisherman I have learned one thing – freeze your fish (whole or filets) in water and they will taste fresh no matter when you cook them. We us zip bags, add water, squeeze out the air and close. BE SURE to check for leaks before storing in freezer. We use an old cookie sheet to stack these on before putting into the freezer.

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  30. Mary Lynn

    05/31/2012

    My Grandma has always made a bunch of cookie dough at a time & froze it in rolls, then just sliced off the cookies to bake. Friends have also froze them individually, handy to give with meal gifts to new Mommies or sick friends. Another friend does that & says they pop a couple cookies in the toaster oven when the kids go to bed! ; ) Thank you so much for all your great info! I have been so terrible at meals lately & want to get better at planning & am so interested in having the freezer help me, thank you thank you!!

    (I am interested in Jennifer’s question as well)

    [Reply]

  31. Jennifer

    05/05/2012

    I’m interested in freezer cooking and your tips/tricks are AWESOME! So thank you for that! It seems like this would use a lot of freezer bags though… do you reuse any of the freezer bags? Or is there any alternative to using freezer bags, aluminum foil, etc that would still allow you to freeze flat?

    [Reply]

  32. Buy in season, do some freezin’ | | Budget For HealthBudget For Health

    03/29/2012

    […] bags, Tupperware, and even shoe boxes to make sorting and stacking foods easier. There’s even a Freezer Cooking FAQ from all the questions Andrea got after the first post. Her site is definitely in my top favorite […]

  33. Phyllis

    03/21/2012

    You can even freeze potato chips – trust me. Ever had too many bags from a party? Just pop them in the freezer and they will stay as fresh as the day you bought them. Thanks Mom for that tip!

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    Megan Reply:

    Have you tried this with corn chips for salsa/dips? We always buy a big bag and then get sick of them half way through.

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    bob Reply:

    I don’t know about freezing corn chips, but to make them last longer, I toss them in a warm oven for a few minutes. It dries them out and makes them crisp again. It’s basically what the mexican restaurants do with their chip warmers.

    I usually put them in the oven at 350 for about 10-15 minutes. if you’re already cooking something else in the oven, then don’t sweat the temperature so much, just lay them in a pan and put them on an available rack for a few minutes. sample them every so often until they’re ready.

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    Danielle Reply:

    When chips or cookies get a bit soft I put them in the fridge with the bag unsealed and they always become crunchy again. Never figured why, but it works for me. Never tried the over way.

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  34. kittykatz

    03/18/2012

    Hello, I would like to know how you freeze mashed potatoes and how you thaw and fix them. They always get watery for me.

    Also, I have used a vacuum sealer for years. I always freeze in plastic baggie the night before then vacuum them. Peas, beans, and things that you want to just grab as much as you want, I freeze on a cookie sheet separately then put in vacuum bags. It’s really handy when they are in season and abundant.

    I don’t know what I would do without a vacuum sealer. I wash and reuse my bags. They don’t get so messy if you put into a cheap ziplock bag first and then just leave a little opening at one end so the vacuum can get all the air out.

    I tried one time to use the Wal-Mart brand of vacuum bags. They don’t work very well. I know jthe good vacuum bags are expensive but if washed and used again they are economical. As long as the bags don’t lose their vacuum the food lasts a long time.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Hey Kitty,
    I actually DON’T freeze mashed potatoes {or any potatoes} that’s probably the one thing I don’t freeze b/c they don’t turn out well {as you’ve experienced!} So unfortunately, I can’t give you a magic solution.

    I’ve heard people say that they freeze potatoes, but I’ve personally never had great luck with this!

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  35. Alyssa

    03/09/2012

    First of all I’m going to attest to the fact that you can fit A LOT of food in the top of your fridge/freezer. I once made and entire months worth of meals (25-30) and fit them all in there, along with my regular freezer things. I packaged a lot of meals in bags and froze them flat so they took up less space. I also lined my glass dishes with foil and once they were frozen I took them out of the dish, bagged them and stacked them up. It saves significant space. It was extra work this way, and I don’t always do this, but I was having a baby and wanted to fill my freezer as full as I could!

    Another thing I do regularly is freeze fruit or veggies when they go on sale. I lay everything out on a cookie sheet and freeze for just a few hours, then transfer everything in a bag. This way I don’t end up with a huge chunk of frozen fruit, and I can easily pull out what I need each time.

    I’ve also frozen coffee in ice cube trays to make iced coffee. The creamer trick is fabulous!

    [Reply]

  36. erisraven

    03/08/2012

    I have a chest freezer, and I lose things in it all the time. One suggestion I have is to bag things by type when freezing – it’s harder to lose the spaghetti sauce when you have multiple bags of it in there.

    As far as the coffee creamers go, I go one step further and freeze in ice trays, then pop out and baggie. They work great as single serving coffee and hot chocolate coolers that way.

    And you always have to provide room for the foods to expand when they’re frozen. Otherwise you get exploded baggies or unlidded plasticware. (Voice of sad experience here.)

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    I love your coffee creamer tip!! so clever 🙂

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  37. KimH

    03/07/2012

    I’ve had all sorts of freezers in my 30 years as an adult, but I have different opinions than you do on the best type of freezer.

    I have found that with a frost free freezer, I have MUCH less freezer burn (maybe because I can find stuff?). The newer freezers are better temperature regulated & cost much less to run than the old non-frost free freezers. Do they even make non-frost free these days? I wouldnt consider buying one, myself.

    I also recommend an upright over a chest for a couple reasons. It takes less foot-space, and things have a tendency to get lost in chest freezers. Even when you’re an ace super organizer.

    You can get great deals on freezers at scratch & dent stores, Outlets, & even at regular stores. Just ask for a deal.

    One thing I have in my freezer that I never considered freezing until my boss told me they did, is Coffee Mate & International Delight sweetened & flavored coffee creamers. They freeze & thaw really well. They’re basically ice cream in a jar and you can scoop a bite out when they’re still frozen & it tastes like ice cream.. 😉

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Yup — they most definitely still make manual defrost freezers {non-frost-free}!
    And actually, every store I’ve ever been to has recommended a manual defrost freezer for long-term storage… but yes, you will have to defrost it every year {or more} to keep the frost build-up under control.

    With a frost-free freezer, the temperature is constantly rising enough to melt any frost and then freezing again to keep your food frozen. That constant change in temperature causes freezer burn to happen much faster. However, a manual defrost freezer stays the same temperature all the time {unless you leave the door open!} so freezer burn is much less likely.

    Also, at least in West Michigan, manual defrost freezers are always much cheaper — even at the scratch and dent stores.

    [Reply]

    KimH Reply:

    My freezer has remained at constant 0 degrees from the first day I bought it several years ago.. It has a temperature gauge on the outside so I can see at any time what the temp is. It has never changed unless I have the door open, and I have rarely to never had anything get freezer burn on it.. even boxes of Green Giant veggies I got for free 2 years ago. They’re still happily in good shape but I figure Im pushing it so Im using them up now heavily.

    I just looked this up online & found this on ABT Electronics website.. Since my own experience tells me this is true, Im going to put my faith in what they say.. Lowes also has this information on their website on their Freezer Buying Guide.

    http://www.abt.com/about/Buying_freezers

    Frost-free: Frost-free freezers prevent ice buildup by automatically defrosting approximately once daily. A timer turns the compressor fan on and off, while simultaneously turning on a small heater to melt away any collected frost. During the defrost cycle, the internal freezer temperature does not change by more than two degrees, so food is not adversely affected. The slight temperature change concerns some consumers who have heard that their food will preserve better in a manual, rather than frost-free freezer. However, temperature changes in the frost-free cycle are approximately the same as the changes in a manual defrost freezer where the compressor cycles on-and-off. Frost-free freezers do not cause freezer burn, which occurs when food placed in the freezer is improperly wrapped or kept frozen for an extended period of time. Wrapping food in heavy-duty aluminum foil, plastic-coated freezer paper or polyethylene bags prevent freezer burn.

    [Reply]

  38. Ann

    03/07/2012

    I thought you couldn’t freeze things with mayonnaise in them. Have you tried it?

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  39. Kim

    03/07/2012

    :Love red bell peppers, but oh so expensive. So, when they are 3/$1.00 I purchase LOTS, cut them in strips and freeze them. Now I can toss some on pizza, or in a pan of fresh veggies I plan to roast in oven, etc. at a moment’s notice. Yum!

    [Reply]

  40. Heather

    03/07/2012

    When you freeze broth in bags, do you have leakage issues when it defrosts? I froze several bags of broth, but all of them have leaked once I put them in the fridge, so maybe I did something wrong?

    [Reply]

    Fallon Gresham Reply:

    I usually put a plate or shallow container under whatever I am thawing. Even if the container/bag doesn’t leak, there usually is still some moisture from condensation.

    [Reply]

    Ann Reply:

    Also don’t fill them too full! I once froze spaghetti sauce and they expanded as they froze and popped open the bags and I had a grand mess in the freezer!

    [Reply]

    Laurine Reply:

    I freeze broth in ice cube trays and then store them in bags!

    [Reply]