Home cooks are always looking for time savers. Any time that you can make a double batch of a recipe and freeze half, consider it a win! Frankly, some foods freeze better than others. Lasagna, pasta sauces, jams, cookies and bars, soups, stews, and chilis all freeze well. But no matter what the dish, we have some quick tips that apply to all foods for freezing.
THE SKINNY ON FREEZABLE RECIPES:
Make sure to label each container or ziploc bag. Use masking tape or white labels and a permanent marker to label the name of the food/recipe, when it was frozen, and even how long it will be good for/expiration date. When using freezer bags, you want to be sure to get as much excess air out of them as possible. When using a container, you want to make sure it is a freezer-proof airtight container and that it is filled all of the way, so that there’s not much air to create freezer burn. The temperature of the freezer should be at 0 degrees F.
1. Skinny Lasagna Rolls (Winner of the Healthy Lasagna Cook Off. Be sure to watch the video.)
These freeze well when already baked. Wrap each serving in plastic wrap and place in a layer in a resealable freezer bag or airtight, freezer-safe container. They are already in individual portion sizes, which means they can be unwrapped and put straight into the oven from the freezer, in a baking dish. They should heat evenly and won’t take too long to warm up. Never put a glass or ceramic dish from the freezer straight into the oven. Lasagna is one of those foods that reheats well in the microwave, too.
Bake this lasagna, and once cooled to room temperature, package in individual portions and freeze according to the directions described in the lasagna rolls above.
SOUPS, STEWS, and CHILI RECIPES
Soups, stews, and chili freeze well, in general. They should freeze nicely for about six months in airtight, freezer-safe containers or resealable freezer bags with any extra air removed. Some cooks prefer to double the freezer bags. Read on for recipes that work well when frozen.
9. Taco Chili
10. White Bean Chili
Bonus: 7 Sensational Soups
BREAD and TORTILLA RECIPES
Quick breads, like other breads, and tortillas, can be frozen after baking.
Freeze the tortillas in an airtight freezer bag, with a square piece of wax paper between each one. When ready to use, remove from the freezer and defrost the bag in the fridge.
a. Remove the baked bread from the oven and cool in pans for 10 minutes, then flip the bread from the pans onto a cooling rack. Once room temperature, wrap the breads in saran wrap, and then place in large resealable freezer bags.
b. Remove as much of the air as possible from the freezer bag, either by using a vacuum sealer, pressing the bag down on the sides to push air out, or inserting a straw into the corner of the almost sealed bag and sucking out the air (you will see that the bag will become tightly sealed with this last method, as funny as it sounds).
c. 24 hours before you plan to serve it remove the bread from the freezer, and thaw at room temperature. If in a hurry, unwrap the bread and microwave using the defrost feature. This last method may make the bread slightly more moist and crumbly.
Alternatively, If you are doing a small amount and only want a slice or two at a time, slice the bread and wrap each individual serving in plastic wrap. After each portion is wrapped, seal into an airtight freezer bag using the same methods as outlined above.
For cookies, the dough or the baked cookies can be frozen. Most cookies freeze well in either form. The only exception is meringue and other fragile cookies, because they will break. Frosted cookies should be frozen as dough or cooked but without frosting. Frosting doesn’t freeze well.
dough can be frozen in balls by the tablespoonful on a wax paper lined baking sheet for 2 hours. Cookies needn’t be spaced apart far about, since they are just freezing and won’t spread like they would baking in the oven, but they shouldn’t be touching. After pre-freezing the balls, simply remove the frozen dough and place in layers with wax paper in between each layer, in a large airtight resealable freezer bag, or in an airtight, freezer-safe container. Pre-freezing ensures that the cookie dough balls can be stored with sides touching without sticking together. Cookie dough balls can then be cooked straight from frozen and according to the recipe directions. Just add a few minutes to the bake time.
Want to freeze already baked chocolate chip cookies? Use the same method of layering with wax paper in a freezer bag or container.
Follow the same directions with the following cookies:
21. Skinny Chai Cookies – Unlike the other cookies, these cookie balls should be flattened before being frozen. All of the other directions from above apply.
Cookies and cookie dough should stay well in the freezer for up to 8 months.
HOW TO FREEZE PUREES, SPREADS, and SAUCES
Just freeze the sauce in airtight containers and then add the noodles when ready to eat. Any variety of tomato-based spaghetti sauce, including meat sauces, can be frozen. The sauce can also be flattened in freezer bags and then frozen in stacks, or stored in airtight, freezer-safe containers.
Apple butter can be frozen in canning jars (yes, you can freeze canning jars). Just leave 1/2 ” of head space on the top as the apple butter may expand. It can also be frozen in airtight, freezer-safe containers. You needn’t freeze apple butter to preserve it. An alternative way is to water bath process mason/jam jars if pantry storage is preferred over the freezer methods.
Pumpkin puree can be frozen in resealable freezer bags, placing 1 cup-sized amounts in each bag, and then flattening the bag. Sometimes it’s good to portion things in exact measurements before freezing, so that the right amounts can be pulled for use in a recipe. The bottom of a sauce pan works well to make the puree flat and even for easier stacking and more freezer space. Puree can also be placed in airtight, freezer-safe containers. Pumpkin puree will last for about 8 months to 1 year this way. That means that there is enough frozen pumpkin puree to get you through until the next winter squash/pumpkin season comes around. It’s a good idea to eat pumpkin year round!
Pumpkin puree can be used in many recipes, including many of our 30 Delicious Pumpkin Inspired Recipes and in recipes where a butternut squash or an acorn squash puree is called for, such as this Spinach and Butternut Squash Lasagna (simply mix the spices called for with the defrosted puree). Pumpkin puree can add flavor, creaminess, and even a touch of sweetness to the broths of many soups.
Applesauce is similar to pumpkin puree and can be frozen the same way, or it can be jarred and frozen. It’s great to freeze applesauce in small portions, because it can then be taken out and used in place of oil in many baking recipes, like in our Pumpkin Spice Bread.
A barbecue sauce by itself can be frozen for up to 8 months. You can also freeze barbecue sauce that is leftover from pulled pork, or
(both the leftover pork and the sauce) for 4 to 6 months. The saucy meat mixture for Turkey Sloppy Joes, much like pulled pork, can also be frozen for 4 to 6 months.
HOW TO FREEZE BREAKFAST, SNACK, or COOKIE BARS
These bars should be baked and cooled, and then cut into individual portion sizes and frozen. Freeze in an airtight, freezer safe container, with wax paper in between each layer, or prefreeze on a wax paper-lined baking sheet, and once frozen remove and place in airtight ziplock bags with wax paper between each layer.
FREEZING OTHER INGREDIENTS
Check out this article on How to Freeze Herbs.
For Freezing Berries or Blanched Vegetables:
Berries and other things that are in small pieces such as blanched (briefly boiled) vegetables should be laid out separately on rimmed baking sheets so they are not touching and frozen uncovered. Once frozen, usually after a couple of hours, remove from the freezer and place in resealable bags. Spreading out and pre-freezing is a great tip so that the berries don’t freeze together. Going in the bags later will save freezer space.
FREEZING STOCKS and BROTHS
One clever idea is freezing homemade stock in ice cube trays. That way, you can use the cubes to add flavor to soups, stews, chili and sauces instead of adding just water or canned stock/broth. It’s easy to just add the cubes and cook!
If there’s a lot of stock, it can be frozen in airtight, freezer-safe containers. Most stocks, i.e. meat, poultry, and vegetable can be frozen for up to 6 months, with the exception of a fish or seafood stock, which should only be frozen for up to 4 months.
How do you make your favorite classic meals a bit skinnier? We’d love to hear about it! Tell us in the comments section below.