Freezer Friendly Foods
Your freezer isn’t just a place to keep ice cubes and frozen pizza. Buying certain items in bulk and packaging into serving sizes to fit your family can help you save money. Cutting or preparing and then freezing foods can help you save time when cooking meals. If you’ve ever tried any type of Once A Month Cooking (OMAC) and had your family refuse to eat reheated meals then these semi freezer meal tips will help. Why cook and freeze a whole meal when you can prep the most time consuming parts then quickly make a home cooked meal when your ready. Below you’ll find information on foods that can be easily frozen as well as those that are not freezer friendly.
I highly recommend Glad freezer bags. I’ve tried many varieties and these seem to hold up the best.
Check back as this list will be updated as I add more tips and recipes that they can be used in.
Foods that do NOT freeze well
Battered and fried foods – they never crisp up like commercial battered foods and, when reheated, become soggy.
Hard boiled eggs – while they may keep well for a week in the refrigerator they do not do well when frozen.
Custards or cream based pie fillings – these well separate when thawed.
Mayonnaise, sour cream, cottage cheese, ricotta cheese – separates when thawed.
Cooked potatoes – whether cut into chunks and frozen by themselves or if used in soup/stew that you are freezing. They become very mealy/grainy when thawed. Mashed potatoes do freeze well….see below.
Soups/Stews that are thickened with flour/cornstarch: these will separate and be difficult to get to mix together once thawed.
Stuffed meat of any type (chicken, pork, etc): never freeze meat if it contains a bread based stuffing. The centers never seem to cook through well enough before the stuffing starts to burn. This means most people take them out before the centers have cooked thoroughly which could lead to food poisioning. Slice the meats and freeze without stuffing.
Berries (Blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, cranberries): these all freeze great.
Apples: peel and cut into slices or chunks. Dip in a solution of water and lemon juice to prevent browning. Freeze on a cookie sheet for a couple of hours. Once frozen place into plastic bags. Freezing on a cookie sheet helps to keep the slices from freezing into a huge block.
Peaches: blanch and remove peel. Cut into slices and discard pit. Lay on a cookie sheet and freeze for a few hours before bagging.
Citrus fruit: you can freeze both the juice from the fruit as well as the zest. If you have fruit you plan on eating, but would like to save the zest for future baked/cooking, zest the fruit first then peel and eat. You can not freeze the fruit items without it changing texture. But you can freeze the juice. Place a tablespoon or two into ice cube trays and freeze. Remove the cubes, bag and label with the date. Frozen cubes can easily be removed and added directly to your dish as it’s cooking….no thawing required!
Onions: can be frozen chopped, diced and in strips. I usually package them into bags that contain one onion worth since this is the amount called for by many recipes that I use.
Sweet Peppers : can be frozen chopped, diced and strips. Cut sweet peppers in half and freeze to use in making stuffed peppers.
Hot Peppers: finely chop your favorite hot peppers such as jalapenos and store in small snack sized bags until needed.
Tomatoes: only freeze tomatoes if you are planning on using them in cooked recipes. Fresh tomatoes end up with a grainy texture if they are thawed but not cooked. They freeze great as long as they are cooked after freezing. Freeze them diced, crushed or even whole! If freezing whole blanch and peel before freezing.
Mashed Potatoes: already prepared mashed potatoes (even if made with milk, cream and butter) freezes well. You may need to stir it well once thawed.
Corn: if the corn is fresh it should be blanched in boiling water for 6 to 8 minutes, allow to cool and then freeze. If you have leftover corn on the cob (cooked) they can be frozen whole or you can cut the kernels off to freeze.
MEATS AND SEAFOOD
Any type of meat or fish freezes well. Think of what you already see in the freezer at your local grocery store. All cuts of meat, chicken, pork as well as more unusual meats (depends upon your area) such as duck, goat, buffalo and vension.
Seafood: all types of fish as well as shrimp, crab, lobster, scallops
Shredded cheese: just about every type of shredded cheese I have come across (cheddar, swiss, jack, mozzarella, pizza and mexican blends, etc) freeze well. I purchase the larger bags at my local wholesale club and then divided them into smaller bags. For my own family I put 2 cups of cheese into each bag.
Block: many cheese varieties can be frozen as a whole block. Just be aware that when the cheese thaws that it might take on a crumbly texture. The cheese is still perfectly good and will melt fine. You just may not be able to cut the block into slices. I usually cut one pound block in half and freeze. The thawed cheese will then easily break into bits and can be sprinkled into foods. I also use the crumbles to top salads.
Sliced cheese: this can be frozen but the sliced with break apart into pieces after thawing. See the info above under block cheese.
Butter: freezes very well. Stock up when on sale. I have no idea about margarine since I don’t purchase this product.
Milk: yes you can freeze milk. Make sure there is several inches of headspace at the top of the container. The milk will expand when freezing. When the milk is thawed it will need to be shaken very well to help reincorporate the cream/milk fat that tends to separate out.
Quinoa: cooked quinoa freezes well. Bag into portions sizes that you use.
Bakery items: premade cookies, muffins, cakes, waffles, pancakes and most other bakery items (unless they are frosted) will freeze well.
Premade soups and stews: as long as they don’t contain potatoes or noodles. Both of these items break down once thawed and will affect the texture of the soup.
Fresh herbs: wash to clean the herbs, pick the leaves from the stems, lay on a cookie sheet and freeze for several hours. Then transfer to a labeled bag. This keeps the leaves from freezing together in a solid piece.