At the end of a long work day, a bowl of homemade soup hits the spot. You can get takeout from a restaurant or buy a container of hot soup at your local market, but expect to pay around $5 a serving. A more economical but equally delicious way is to freeze homemade soup (or lasagna, quiche or meat loaf), defrost it in the fridge and warm it up when you get home. Homemade frozen meals are usually healthier and cheaper than the frozen dinners you buy in the store, and they're definitely fresher and tastier.
Things You'll Need
- Food containers that are microwave safe with airtight lids
How to Make Frozen Meals
Prepare and cook a food that has plenty of moisture---think soups, casseroles or chicken pot pies. Be careful not to overcook things such as vegetables. They'll be heated again when you serve them so undercooking is better.
Completely cool the cooked food before you freeze it, otherwise, bacteria can form.
Transfer the food into individual freezer-safe and microwave-safe containers. Don't fill the containers to the top---leave a little room because the frozen contents will expand.
Label each container with the name of the dish and the date. Put it in the freezer.
Thaw the food in the refrigerator when you're ready to eat it---this is the slowest but safest way. Large dishes may need to thaw overnight in the fridge. You can also put the frozen container in cold water in the sink or microwave it on "defrost." If you use the microwave, cook the food right away to be safe.
Tips & Warnings
- Keep a current list on your freezer door to help you remember what's inside. Check your list in the morning, take out whatever sounds good---say, enchiladas or chili---and put the dish in the refrigerator to thaw. You can buy tortilla chips after work and come home to a Mexican feast. If you're not sure how a food will hold up in the freezer, just freeze a little as a sample. Use frozen meals within a few weeks for the best flavor and texture. If you keep food frozen for months and it doesn't look or smell good, throw it out.
- Once something has been defrosted, don't refreeze it. It won't taste as good the second time around and you'll be inviting bacterial growth.
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