Thursday, January 1, 2009

Making your own frozen dinners

This is taken from's website

The containers you use to store your meals in should be both microwave- and freezer-safe. Both glass and plastic may work well, if they meet these standards (all glass and plastic containers are different). Another option is large freezer bags. Certain foods will freeze well in a bag, and can then be defrosted in the refrigerator, placed in a microwave-safe container, and then reheated.
Before portioning out cooked food into containers, allow it to cool completely first and always leave extra room at the top of to allow for expansion of the food during freezing.
Make sure food is wrapped well and/or covered with air-tight lids to prevent air from getting in.
Foods with high moisture content (such as soups) tend to freeze better than drier foods.
Don’t turn your food into a mystery science project. Use a permanent marker to label each dish with a name and a date. For maximum quality and flavor, use each meal within a couple of weeks. Just like in a store, rotate your stock so that the newest meals are in the back and the oldest are in the front for easy access.
Vegetables should be slightly undercooked to prevent them from becoming mushy when you reheat them.
Be careful about bacterial contamination. Completely cool hot food before freezing it to prevent the growth of bacteria. Bacteria can grow when the outside of food freezes while the inside remains warm.
If you’re not sure a meal will freeze well, cook and freeze only a small portion the first time. If the quality is okay, then go ahead and freeze more in the future.
Read your owner's manual to find the fill level that will keep your freezer running at peak energy efficiency. Certain freezers run best when completely full, while others shouldn't be filled more than half-way.

Consider posting a freezer inventory list nearby to track the meals (and dates) of everything in the freezer. Check off each item as you remove it and you will know exactly what foods are available at all times. This also prevents forgotten foods from going to waste.
Freezing your meals is a great way to keep foods longer, but frozen doesn’t mean forever. As a general rule, fruit and vegetables will stay freezer-fresh for around eight months, fish and shellfish for up to six months, and meat and poultry for three. Trust your instincts and throw out anything from the freezer that smells or tastes "off."
Don’t re-freeze defrosted foods because the taste and texture will decline and you could be risking bacterial contamination.

As a general rule, the following dishes tend to freeze well: baked goods, burgers (sometimes uncooked will freeze better), burritos, calzones, casseroles, cooked beans, cooked grains, egg rolls, enchiladas, French toast, quiche, lasagna, manicotti, mashed potatoes, meatballs and meatloaf, pancakes, pot pies, poultry, roasted meats, sauces, sloppy Joes, soup, stuffed shells, taco fillings, tofu, TVP, and waffles.

Foods that do NOT freeze well include: egg- and cream-based sauces, instant rice, salad, stuffed poultry, hard-cooked eggs and fried foods.

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