How to Freeze Prepared Meals (and properly reheat them!)

by Cath

Having frozen meals ready to be eaten it’s a great way to spend less time in the kitchen during the work week.

If you’ve frozen homemade meals in your freezer, you’ll end up eating healthier and saving time without too much effort.

Why freeze homemade meals?

You don’t need to worry about what to eat

While I love to cook, during the work week I don’t like worrying too much about what I’m going to eat. I like to have prepared meals or at least have an idea of what I’m going to make, and having this does wonders to my well-being during the week. I’ll be honest I don’t always enjoy meal prepping because all I want to do in Sunday afternoon is to get some rest but I always thank my past self for taking the time so it’s worth it.

You can save money

Freezing meals can also help you save more money because you can save on special promotions going on and cook everything at once. It’s incredible the amount of money that we spend buying food just to get us by for the day. If we go to the supermarket tired and hungry at the end of the day, all you want to do is figure out something simple and quick to make and you’re not worried about money.

Helpful in busier times

In the same way, you don’t want to cook when you’re stressed out at work or are doing a part time course while dealing with your other commitments. There’s too many things going on.

Prepping meals and cook them before having a baby is very helpful for those first stressful times. Or if you’re not having a newborn yourself but your friends are, I bet that will love to have ready to eat meals so they can rest more. It’s a great gift and believe me, something not everyone will think about and the truth is maybe they already have too many clothes or toys, why not give them the gift of homemade meals?

And now without any further ado, I’ll leave you with my tips on freezing ready made meals.

How to Freeze Homemade meals

Choose meals that freeze well

There are just meals that freeze better than the others and if you want to make a big batch of meals you’ll want to like it after it has been defrosted.

Bolognese pasta, lasagna, vegetable curry, cannelloni, soup, duck rice, stews, all of these dishes freeze really well. You can also freeze roasted meat leftovers like chicken, that are great to throw in a quick meal, like a pesto pasta with some shredded chicken.

Having said that, if a meal is going to the trash unless you freeze it, even if you’re unsure how it will turn out, try it! Reduce your food waste. While it can’t be the best meal after reheating it, it’s just that one time and it’s a good lesson to understand what meals freeze better and those that don’t.

Freeze in individual portions

To reduce food waste, it’d be better to freeze individual portions just in case a member of your household doesn’t eat, that way you only need to defrost the exact quantity of meals. It’s also easier to organize the freezer this way, individual containers rather than big containers.

But his tip will depend on you and the people you live with organize yourselves. It might not make much sense to you, especially if you always eat together.

Leave head room

The worst thing that can happen is having a glass container burst in the freezer. Cleaning up broken glass it’s annoying and can be avoided.

When you’re freezing liquids, like a soup, you shouldn’t fill it to the top. Instead leave around 2-3cm of head room, that way you’re giving space for the liquids to expand.

Cool it before putting it in the freezer

Storing warm meals in the freezer can make the other food that’s already in the freezer defrost.

By defrosting and freezing it again, not only it can alter the texture and flavor of the food, it can also be dangerous for your health as this practice it’s not recommended.

The trick is to put it in the refrigerator first.

Cool it down a bit and you can put the prepared meal in the fridge. If you want to cool it down faster, leave it on top of a cooling rack so the air circulates underneath and cools the food more quickly. Keep in mind you don’t want to let it be more than 2 hours at room temperature to avoid bacteria growth.

After letting it cool in the fridge, you just need to pass it to the freezer and you’re all set!

Label each meal

It’s very important to label each meal so you know if it has been there for too long and also to avoid mysterious food in your freezer (unless you want to be surprised every time you thaw a frozen meal). The date is crucial so you can favor those meals that have been in the freezer for longer.

I have a tiny freezer so I don’t write anything on it, I quickly go through what I have in the freezer and know exactly what I have.

But in case you’ve a bigger freezer or a chest freezer, this tip will help you organize your frozen meals and avoid food waste as you’ll likely use it up faster if you see it has been lying around for longer.

How to defrost a frozen meal

It’s not that hard to defrost a frozen meal, but there’s the plan-ahead way and the I-need-to-eat-now way.

Depending on how the day unfolds, you could have thought that you had time to cook only to arrive late from work, hungry and all you want to do is order take-out. But you’ve now frozen meals in the freezer and you can thaw those meals fast!

Or you’ve actually decided right in the morning that you want to arrive home, eat a delicious homemade nutritious meal and after that binge a few episodes of your favorite TV show.

So let’s see these these two different defrosting methods.

How to thaw prepared meals with time

If you know you’re going to eat it the next day, you can just leave it the night before in the fridge so it defrosts. Don’t defrost it at room temperature as you’ll be risking bacteria growing into it, always defrost it in the fridge.

How to thaw prepared meals fast

If, by any chance, you need to eat one of your frozen meals but didn’t put in the fridge the night before, you can defrost it in the microwave.

Set your microwave to defrost mode, and let your food slowly defrost. Stop it and stir it frequently to unsure it defrosts evenly. Once it’s defrosted, it’s ready to be heated, raise the setting to High and heat your food until it’s the right temperature for you.

Don’t put your microwave in the highest setting before the meal has completely defrosted. The texture will not be very good if you do it that way and you’ll regret it. You might be in a hurry but it’s better to be patient here, believe me.

How to reheat frozen soup

If you’ve time and you’re heating up soup, the best way to heat it up is putting it into a pan and constantly stir until hot, this will insure that the soup doesn’t get separated.

I never had much trouble with my microwave method, it’s not as good as heating the soup in the pan but sometimes we just want to be lazy and as long as you defrost it first it’ll be tasteful.

Try it out!

Experiment and freeze one meal only and see how it goes and then you can just make big batches of food, ready to eat. All the convenience without the extra money!

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