You’ve heard me talk a wee bit about using my freezer, so I thought it only fair to share some more details about what I use to freeze my meals to make my life way easier when when prepping my meals.
Before you even start prepping any freezer meals, double check that you have enough freezer space! This is the key to your success!! Only make what you have space for! I have definitely been overly ambitious about my plans to make a bunch of freezer meals only to find out they…don’t…fit!! That’s when I pull out my good ol’ cooler for a few days!
I typically don’t just put my meat from the store straight into the freezer. Instead, I generally cook it ahead of freezing, or add a marinade, or change the portion sizes. I tend to buy my meat in bulk at places like Costco or Walmart. I have even purchased meat straight from the butcher by splitting animals with friends, which is much higher quality meat!
I have tried using a number of different containers. I find that even my brand name Tupperware containers tend to make my meals taste like freezer, or cause so much ice build up that I can no longer identify what was in the container. Thank goodness for a label!!
I have also tried all kinds of plastic freezer bags! I have had the most luck with Ziploc Freezer bags (that I also buy in bulk from Costco). Some of the cheaper brand freezer bags leak or don’t fully seal. I hate it when my food tastes like freezer, or when I stick my full freezer meal bag into the freezer only to find it leak all over the next time I open the door of my freezer! (That’s a mess I hate cleaning!!) I find Ziploc freezer bags are the best at keeping freezer burn and strange flavours away, and they zip a good solid seal. I always make sure to have some of the medium and the large on hand. I have also found a small size which is great for some of my portioning (like for hummus or guacamole!).
When I am prepping a lot of meals, I will rest the freezer bags in a bowl for easy filling, it doesn’t really matter what size the bowl is so long as it supports your Ziploc bag. I have also found that folding over the top zipper edge of the freezer bag helps to keep the zipper clear of food so that the bag can create a better seal. It’s also great for holding the bag open, which saves me time when I am adding my ingredients to many bags in a row.
I set it up like it’s a manufacturing line! The kids love watching the process!!
When I am prepping meals I generally prep partial meals. So rather than making the whole casserole or lasagna I will assemble the filling or the sauce and put that in the freezer. I find it takes up a bit less space, and I can reheat the parts making it seem more like I just cooked everything that night. Also it provides flexibility; the filling of a lasagna for example could easily become a spaghetti sauce instead.
I am all about the multi uses for anything and everything!
The other thing that I love about Ziploc, is that I can shape it to how I will use it. For some things I can lay them flat while freezing, then stand them up to save space. This is great for things like stock or soup. Or I can place a freezer meal bag in a container of the shape of my pot so that when I cook it, I can cook it from frozen! (For all those times that I forget to pull something out of the freezer! Which is WAY too often!)
One more thing that I have to add for when I am freezing things like pancakes, cookies, muffins, or any kind of dough, is to ensure there is no air in the freezer bag. I go old school with this one. I literally suck the air out with a straw! For me, it is the quickest and most effective way of doing it. Taking the air out allows for the best freshness when I toast up my precooked, frozen pancakes!
You do have to use whatever works for you. There are so many container options out there. It’s worth testing out to see what works for you. I used to always believe that everything in the freezer had to be used within a month so that it didn’t get freezer burned. Now, There is no timeline…well that’s not true! But I have extended the timeline by 6 months to over a year!
Have fun freezing!
I love that your kids like watching the process of prepping foods for the freezer. They are picking up skills that will serve them well in the future.
The simple trick of folding the ziploc over before filling would sure prevent a few of the clean ups I’ve had to do.
Folding the Ziploc is key!! So many times I have spilled soup or sauce all over the edge which causes the zipper not to seal. Then you either get a mess in the freezer, or when thawing, or your food tastes like freezer!!
I do hope the kids are learning lots. I want them to understand the idea of meal prep so that they can have something more to eat than Kraft Dinner! 🙂