With these smart guidelines, you'll get better use out of your freezer, save money, and avoid wasting food.
One way to organize family food for the whole week is to prepare different foods on a given day, freeze them, and gradually take out what is needed each day.
Sometimes freezing food also helps us avoid throwing out leftovers. Freezing preserves food for a longer period of time and, when done properly, keeps it fresh.
As great as freezing is, just remember that it’s not the solution to everything. It doesn’t prevent microorganisms from growing and it does not destroy them; it only slows them down. It also doesn’t stop chemical and enzymatic reactions. Freezing does buy you time, but it doesn’t suspend the laws of nature.
How to freeze food without losing any of its nutritional value
- Check your freezer and food temps. Set the refrigerator temp at or below 40 degrees F. Make sure your freezer is able reach a temperature at least as low as 0 degrees Farenheit, which is necessary to freeze the food internally (-20 F insures best quality). And also make sure the food you want to freeze is at room temperature before you put it in the freezer. Bringing foods directly from the oven to the freezer will put a strain on your fridge.
- Get frozen food products home quickly. One practical tip is to pick up the frozen foods right before going to the checkout line, and then take them directly home. If you are far from the store, consider bringing along an insulated bag or a cooler with ice.
- Use labels. When you freeze food at home, label it with the packaging date and the name of food. Storing them with a clearly visible date will help you keep track of what needs to be eaten first.
- Organize frozen foods by date. The most recently added foods should go on the bottom, and the ones that have been in the freezer the longest should go on top so that they get eaten sooner.
- Take into account the type of food and its perishability. For example: vegetables and red meats last 6 to 12 months in the freezer, chicken and cheeses last 4 to 8 months, and fish and cooked foods only last 2 to 6 months.
- Choose the right packaging. The best containers for home-frozen food are hard plastics or freezer and/or microwave-safe bags. Check to make sure the container doesn’t have any cracks or rips, because cold freezer air dries out food and can make it tasteless.
- How to freeze raw vegetables: Before freezing raw vegetables, first wash them and immerse them in boiling water for a few seconds, then dry them to enhance their color and flavor.
- Uncooked meatsand fish: Meats and fish don’t need to be washed. Just wrap each fillet in Saran wrap and freeze it.
- Eggs don’t freeze well. Eggs can’t be frozen whole because the contents will expand and the shell will break. But you can freeze egg whites.
- Cooked food: If food is already cooked, it can be placed in separate containers: for example, rice in one and cooked vegetables in another. And never mix raw foods with cooked foods in the same container.
Thanks to freezing, you can have any food out of season and even save money. And best of all, you can cook, organize, and freeze your food in advance, and then you’ll have more time for other activities or for relaxing with your family. No more rushing to get dinner ready – it will already be done!
This article wasoriginally published in the Spanish edition of Aleteia and has been translated and/or adapted here for English speaking readers.