You just walked in the door and the kids are already asking you “what’s for dinner?” If you have homemade meals stored in the freezer, you’ll always have an answer. Check out our tips for cooking do-ahead dinners, like Mexican Meatloaf Tacos or Big-Batch Chili-in-the-oven.
- Cool cooked food quickly (to about 100°F.) before freezing to retain the best quality and flavour.
- Stir the dish every 15 minutes during the cool-down period.
- Don’t add hot food to a freezer—the heat can partially thaw already-frozen foods.
- Refrigerate hot food in a shallow container.
- Transfer warm food from the cooking pan to a large, shallow pan set in a sink full of ice.
- Refrigerate perishable food until ready to freeze.
- Use airtight, moisture- and vapor-proof containers and materials specifically designed for freezer temperatures.
- Pack food containers tightly to almost full. Allow about 1/4-inch to 1/2-inch headspace for expansion during freezing.
- When headspace is more than 1/4-inch, place aluminum foil or plastic wrap directly on top of the food before covering to protect from "freezer burn" discoloration.
- To shrink-wrap foods packaged in freezer bags, press out as much air as possible before sealing. Close the bag, leaving a 1/2-inch opening. Then either: Insert drinking straw in opening and suck out any remaining air or submerge filled bag in a container of water, pushing air out of the bag.
- Set freezer thermostat to 10°F to speed freezing; once food is frozen (usually 24 hours), reset temperature to 0°F.
For more food safety tips, visit www.canfightbac.org