9 Genius Tricks for Freezing Food That’ll Make Meal Prep a Snap
Let’s get your frozen food habits out of the ice age.
Fact: all that stands between you and extra cash, curtailed food waste, and immediate access to pre-prepped dinners you don’t even have to cook is your freezer. Everyone owns one, but it’s likely that you aren’t using yours the right way—or to its full potential. We consulted with Matt Davis and Sam McIntire, co-founders of Mosaic, a frozen meal delivery service, to get their expert intel on how to properly freeze fresh foods and leftovers.
Avoid foods with crispy and crunchy textures.
The crisp breading on food like fried chicken or chicken parm tend to degrade when defrosted in the microwave. Soups, stews, and sauces, on the other hand, maintain their flavor and consistency for a perfect defrost.
Freeze foods fast.
The faster veggies freeze, the higher-quality they'll be when defrosted. After roasting vegetables, try laying them out on a sheet pan in your freezer rather than clumping them up in a pile (this is called 'IQFing,’ or individual quick freezing). They'll freeze faster and maintain their hearty roasted texture when reheated.
Use bags for broth.
If you make a large batch of homemade broth, freeze the leftovers in freezer bags to have on hand for future soups or braising. They're surprisingly airtight and won’t hog nearly as much space inside your freezer as plastic containers do.
Stay away from thick pieces of protein.
They often defrost unevenly, and no one likes that unexpectedly cold first bite.
Freeze fresh produce at its peak.
Keep your farmer’s market finds fresh. Stocking up and freezing in-season items is a great way to have access to fruits and vegetables when they may be out of season and more expensive to buy fresh.
Leave room at the lid.
When freezing liquids (like broth, milk, or juice), make sure to leave room at the top of the container for the liquid to expand. If not, be prepared for a freezer deep clean.
Always allow enough time for defrosting.
If you know you want to make burgers for your Saturday BBQ, transfer the meat to the refrigerator a couple of days in advance. Defrosting in a microwave can too easily cook rather than defrost the meat, and leaving food out to defrost on the counter can make it unsafe to eat.
If appearance matters to you, blanch greens first.
Green sauces, like pesto, will blacken naturally as they're exposed to the air in your freezer. They're still perfectly safe to eat, but try blanching (boiling) your greens before making your sauce, which will slow the blackening process for a brighter, greener frozen sauce.
Don’t toss leftover herbs.
Instead, turn them into instant flavor cubes. When a recipe only calls for a small amount of an herb but you have an entire bunch left, cut up the rest, add them to an ice tray and cover with oil and freeze. The next time you’re sautéing or roasting a dish, throw in a few of these cubes for added flavor.