Planning – Freezer Prep

28 May

I’m fortunate to have a big freezer.  I use it throughout the week to make my planning and cooking easier.  If you don’t have a big freezer, you can still freeze sauces in zipper lock bags (see below for instructions).  This will save space if you don’t have room to freeze meat or other additions with the sauce. 

Here are a few tips on preparing food for the freezer.

  • Don’t freeze meat in the container (styrofoam/plastic wrap) in which you brought it home from the grocery.  Wrap it properly, eliminating any air from around the meat.  This means either a) tight plastic wrap and then into a zip-seal bag for protection or b) freezer paper.  I always use freezer paper and tape.  It’s easy to use and relatively inexpensive. 
  • Sharpies are great for labeling things.
  • Glad OvenWare goes freezer to microwave to oven to refrigerator.  The 8×8 size stacks up great in my freezer.  I label both the side and the top with tape.  I have found that labels can be difficult to remove.  Always remove labels or tape before heating the pan.  If I have a casserole with a dairy-based topping, I usually put a layer of plastic wrap between the food and the lid so that the cheese or sauce doesn’t get stuck to the OvenWare lid in the freezer.
  • Glad FreezerWare is great for things that don’t need to go in the oven.
  • Foil ‘hotel’ or ‘steamtable’ pans also work great for larger quantities, with the disadvantage that they obviously can’t go in the microwave.  If you are going to stack them in your freezer, you will need to buy lids as well.  You can usually get these at a warehouse store (Sam’s Club, Costco, BJ’s) or you can get them at a restaurant supply store.
  • Zipper lock bags are also a great choice for sauces and smaller portions.  If space is at a premium, you can stack them, sealed, in an appropriate size container until they are frozen.  Once solid, you can remove the container for easy viewing.
  • Baked goods can be wrapped in plastic wrap.  I recommend overwrapping:  pull out a big sheet of wrap, place the item in it and wrap up and over the top.  A pastry chef I worked with used to say, “The only think plastic wrap always sticks to is itself.”  I often freeze bar cookies, cheesecakes, and other baked goods right in the pan, wrapped in this manner.  You can also freeze certain unbaked doughs in plastic, such as pie dough, or even whole unbaked pies, still in the pan.  I wrap raw cookie dough in parchment and then in plastic wrap before freezing.
  • I’m not a fan of aluminum foil for freezing, unless it’s as an additional layer over plastic or inside zipper lock bags.  It tears.

Martha Stewart has labels you can download and print at home.  They are kind of cute, but I would rather have BIG block letters that I can read easily.  Plus, a roll of masking tape and a Sharpie works really well and costs very little, whereas adhesive labels tend to stick to my containers and cost more, both in terms of printer ink and for the blank labels themselves.

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