Rule #104: The freezer is a valued member of the household.
I have a confession to make to you: I’m a bit of a Freezer Freak. I freeze just about anything I possibly can to have meals for later. We eat leftovers (I know some folks don’t), but I also like to have variety of options throughout the week instead of eating the same thing over and over and over again. By freezing some meals ahead of time (or just freezing what’s left from a good dinner), we give ourselves the chance to have something homemade and yummy at our fingertips whenever we don’t feel like cooking.
I’ve made a list of a few of the things I make often that freeze well. Let’s just say I’ve done plenty of Freezer Experimentation on my own and have found plenty of things that don’t do well in the freezer. Obviously, I’ve left those failures off the list.
I generally store food for the freezer in Ziploc bags or regular old tupperware. I know they have “freezer specific” tupperware, but honestly the normal stuff freezes just fine, too. I just pull out whatever we want to eat the night before and let it thaw all day (sometimes even two days) in the fridge. I even have special little bins that I put the food in to thaw because sometimes the condensation gets messy.
I learned this trick from my BFF, The Pioneer Woman, a loooong time ago. When you are freezing liquid-y type things (soups, stews, gravy, sauces, etc.), place them in Ziploc bags and then lay them flat on a baking sheet. Place in the freezer until frozen solid. Then, you can store the frozen food upright to save space just like this:
All righty then. Here’s a little Freezer Friendly Recipe Compilation for all of my fellow Freezer Freaks out there:
Hash Brown Quiche (Breakfast)
For things like quiche, I will cut them into individual pieces, wrap each in foil, and place them all in a large Ziploc bag. Then, I just have to thaw individual portions overnight in the fridge for a hot, yummy breakfast the next morning!
I also wrap burgers in foil, place them in Ziploc bags, and thaw individual burgers overnight in the fridge.
Soups, stews, chilis, etc. all do ah-maze-ing in the freezer! I usually ladle portions into Ziploc bags (sometimes quart, sometimes even bigger sizes), lay them flat on a cookie sheet in the freezer, and then let them freeze solid. Then, they’re in easy-to-store, skinny little Ziploc pouches full of flavor and low on space.
*When you freeze things that are spicy(er) than others, they tend to get spicier the longer they sit in the freezer. Just keep that in mind when cooking, storing, and freezing things!
So, my general rule of thumb for freezer shelf-life is up to 3-6 months depending on the type of food. Things with a lot of meat (meatballs, pork chops, etc.) tend to do better the less they’re in the freezer, so I will use those within 3 months of freezing. Soups, stews, chilis, and that type of item can last a little longer, so I’ll go as long as 6 months with those in the freezer.
If you forget or just don’t like to thaw things overnight (or even for a couple of nights), don’t sweat it. Many of these recipes do pretty well being reheated straight from frozen. I tend to think it’s just a lot less work to thaw them ahead of time. That way, you’re not doing the, “Okay… 45 more seconds. Stir. 29 more seconds. Okay no, that was too much…” type of dance when you’re reheating.
There we have it folks! My Freezer Freak Flag has been flown! Cheers to the weekend!