Frozen Assets


Freezer Meal Containers

by Deborah Taylor-Hough


So, you’re ready to give cooking for the freezer a try. Great! But what on earth do you store all this good food in?

You certainly don’t want to have your food suffer from a bad case of freezer burn … and you also don’t want to break your budget stocking up on expensive freezer boxes. Oh, what’s a Freezer Mama to do?

I want to assure you that you don’t need to hold a party and buy expensive plastic boxes. Any food grade plastic will work. The inexpensive plastic boxes at the grocery store function just fine, but make sure you have storage items with tight fitting, air-tight lids.

If you want to invest money in the higher quality plastic boxes such as Tupperware’s freezer products (pictured at right), by all means feel free. You definitely get what you pay for, and the fancy expensive home party boxes usually last for many years and come with replacement guarantees. I just want to assure people that you don’t have to stock your freezer shelves with designer containers. The only plastic freezer containers I owned for many years were just the inexpensive ones from the grocery store, and they served me well for many years.

You can even freeze food items in clean, plastic margarine containers if that’s all you have, but the seal isn’t really air-tight so don’t freeze these items for longer than two weeks or the quality of the food will suffer.

It’s important to remember that margarine containers are safe to freeze food in (they’re made of food grade plastic), but don’t reheat your meal in them. They’re not microwave-able, and they can seep harmful chemicals into your family’s food. Be sure that a plastic container is labeled “microwave safe” before using it to reheat food.

If you have a choice between round and rectangular freezer containers, choose rectangular. These use space more efficiently and take up less room in the freezer.

You can also use disposable aluminum foil pans purchased at the grocery store. These can often be reused several times before needing to be recycled or disposed. Disposable pans are ideal if you’re making meals to use to give to others; the recipient doesn’t need to worry about returning your pan or casserole dish. If clean up is a huge time-consumer, these pans be easily thrown away to make cleanup painless.

I’ve built up a good supply of freezer containers by stocking up on bakeware and other freeze-able containers at garage sales and thrift stores. Glass bakeware works fine.When wrapping pans for the freezer, be sure to use good quality, heavy-duty freezer foil.

I personally use zip-top freezer bags for most of my freezer-meal storage needs (yes, that’s actually me and my freezer in the photo!). Not only do freezer bags take up less space than boxes, the bags are inexpensive and easy to use. It’s important to buy top quality freezer bags — this isn’t the place to cut back, money-wise. There’s nothing worse for a freezer-meal cook than to have your entire batch of frozen meals ruined by poor wrapping or freezer bags breaking.

I recommend double bagging anything that has a soupy consistency so you don’t end up with a watery mess at the bottom of your refrigerator after the meal thaws. Sometimes bags can develop small holes, or the zip-top can open slightly.

You can also make your own freezer pans by lining a casserole dish with foil. Put the food in on top of the foil, freeze the meal until it’s solid, and then remove the foil and food from the pan. Finish wrapping the meal and put it back in the freezer. When it’s time to serve the meal, simply place the foil wrapped meal back into the original pan that was used to mold the frozen meal. Thaw and reheat in the original pan. This method keeps your pans available for other uses during the month.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Deborah Taylor-Hough (freelance writer and mother of three) is the editor of the Simple Times e-newsletter and the author of several bestselling books including A Simple Choice: A Practical Guide to Saving Your Time, Money and Sanity, Frugal Living For Dummies® and Frozen Assets: Cook for a Day, Eat for a Month. Visit Debi online at http://www.theSimpleMom.com


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11 Comments so far
Leave a comment

It’s a shame you don’t have a donate button!
I’d certainly donate to this brilliant blog! I suppose for now i’ll settle for bookmarking and adding
your RSS feed to my Google account. I look forward to new updates and will share this
site with my Facebook group. Chat soon!

Comment by Anon

Donations Keep the Lights On

Comment by dsimple

where can i find microwaveabletrays like tv dinners come in?would like to do freezing dinners.

Comment by frances real

I find using carry-out plastic containers from Chinese resturants to be the best. They’re free, sturdy, you all ways have the right lid and disposable when they get get too grotty

Comment by Fred Robinson

I love this idea. I keep looking out for a UK version, as my experience is a lot of recipes get lost in translation! (Yes, I know, I can’t believe it either, but we have such different stuff in our supermarkets – I found out the hard way after buying another US recipe book a while back, which is gathering dust…)
Really loving the Simple Mom blog, and now I’ve found Frozen Assets I’ll be reading more of it! Thanks for inspiring me.

Comment by Sacha

It’s important not to use plastics containing BPA in the freezer and I personally don’t think any plastics are safe for food storage. Aside from the aweful taste they leave on the food, we just don’t know what else the leaching, especially in freezing temperatures is doing to us. There are a number of good studies out there to back this up, google it if you haven’t seen them. Same goes for Aluminum. I personally use the freezer safe, straight sided Ball Jars made of glass. They’re just as inexpensive as plastic and I feel much safer using them. If you thaw them first you can also use them in the microwave (although microwaves are dangerous as well) or heat them in boiling water.

Comment by michelle

thanks for the info. hope to hear more from you.

Comment by Lavern Owie

thx! alton’s show gave alot of hands-on info. i like the practical solutions you have given here also.
d

Comment by donna

I go to Sam’s and buy the pans used for buffets. I fix my meals then cover with heavy duty aluminum foil. I write the instructions on top in marker and then my husband can come home and pop it in the oven.

Comment by Tammy

I have a food saver, and although I can choose the length of a bag, I need a very low sided dish without lid in order for it to fit the width, preferably 1 inch high. This way, I pull the air out of my dinners, can see at a glance what I have, and will stack very neatly in the freezer if containers are all same size.. Keep thinking food saver would come up with one.

Comment by Linda Tschoepe




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