Eating unhealthy meals at home usually happens when you don’t feel like cooking or didn’t have time to shop for fresh groceries. Both? Then you’re really in trouble. Unless, of course, you have a well-stocked freezer, which makes preparing a healthy meal for your family in minutes a breeze. It’s obvious: The fresher you’re freezing the food, the better the food when you thaw it. Freeze right after you get back from the store instead of putting groceries into the fridge first only to freeze them later. Food doesn’t get better when you freeze it, but it doesn’t have to loose its taste or nutrients either.
Follow these simple tips for freezing food and you won’t find yourself in a dinner dilemma any time soon:
- Make sure your freezer temperature is below 0° Fahrenheit and doesn’t fluctuate
- Conserve vitamins and other nutrients and avoid freezer burn by using freezer bags instead of regular plastic bags or only the store wrappings. These bags are specially made for freezing food, seal in moisture and lock out air.
- Don’t leave food at room temperature for longer than 30 minutes before freezing
- Know what’s in your freezer. Label your foods, including freeze date, and keep inventory of your frozen foods
- Don’t overload your freezer so air can circulate for proper freezing
- It’s ok to refreeze raw foods that have been frozen, thawed and cooked
- Do not freeze tomato-based or other acidic foods in aluminum baking pans or cover them with aluminum foil
- Freezer burn is your enemy number one when it comes to freezing food! Even though freezer burned foods do not pose any health risks, they become dry and tasteless. Avoid freezer burn by getting as much air out of bags and containers as possible before freezing food, unless you are freezing liquids that can expand during freezing
- Defrost perishable foods in the fridge, not on your kitchen counter (allow 8 hours of thawing time per pound of meat, 4 hours per pound of poultry and 6 hours per pound of fruit or vegetables)
- Precooked foods low in moisture content (breads, cakes, cookies) can be thawed at room temperature.