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When the work week gets a little crazy, home-cooked meals made in advance are a true life saver! Learn how to freeze with ease with these stress-busting tips.
Save time When pressed for time, you'll thank yourself when you have a wholesome, home-cooked dish in the freezer that simply needs to thaw or bake off in the oven with little or no prep necessary.
Save money Freezing is also a great money-saver. Say you've found some tomatoes on offer at the supermarket. Take advantage by whipping up a big batch of pasta sauce and freezing in meal-sized portions. You'll be saving money in the long run, and feeding your family from scratch, too!
Save waste Likewise, freezing is a great way to prevent waste. Whether you've got ingredients about to spoil, or a glut of veg from the garden - making and freezing ensures that you use up what you have before it meets the bin.
Know before you freeze
Before freezing cooked food, it's important to let it cool down. Heat will raise the temperature of the freezer and the food will not freeze uniformly.
A few things to keep in mind:
Poorly wrapped foods run the risk of developing freezer burn and taking on unpleasant odors from other foods in the freezer. Follow these simple wrapping and container tips to ensure the quality and safety of your food:
Use by guidelines
Although freezing keeps food safe for an indefinite amount of time, eventually the flavour will be affected. If the food is obviously damaged (shrivelled, with white or frosty spots) it should be discarded.
This chart lists recommended storage times for popular precooked foods like pies, soups, lasagne, as well as some raw foods, to ensure high-quality results:
Thawing frozen foods
With the exception of muffins, breads and other baked goods, do not thaw foods at room temperature. Bacteria can grow in the thawed portion of prepared foods, potentially making it unsafe to eat even after cooking.
To ensure that your food is safe to eat, follow one of these proper ways to thaw:
In the refrigerator: This is the slowest but safest thawing technique. Small frozen items might thaw in a few hours, while larger items will take significantly longer - overnight and then some.
In cold water: Place the frozen food in a leak-proof bag and place in a large container or sink of cold water.
In a microwave on the defrost setting: Plan to cook the food immediately after it has thawed in a microwave, because some areas of the food might have begun cooking during the defrost cycle.