Tag Archives: frozen food

This Clever Trick Will Prevent Freezer Burn for Good (And Major Food Waste)

Your freezer is your friend in the fight against food waste. But have you ever opened the freezer to retrieve a carefully prepared meal or frozen item only to discover ice crystals blanketing the container? Or meat that looked a little too “off” in colour? If you’re nodding in agreement, you’ve encountered a simple case of freezer burn.

Many people don’t realize that they can burn frozen food. It sounds wrong, doesn’t it? How can something that’s frozen burn? Freezer burn is damage to frozen food caused by moisture in the food evaporating, leaving dry “pockets” of air and/or ice crystals. The good news is that, while the food won’t taste all that great, it is still edible. The better news is that freezer burn is totally preventable!

Related: Stop Wasting the Most Tossed-Out Food in Canada with These Recipes

The One Thing You Should Always Do to Prevent Freezer Burn

The most important thing you can do to prevent freezer burn is to reduce the food’s exposure to air: make sure you have an airtight, moisture-proof barrier between the food and the container it’s in. Simple tricks like wrapping foods in double layers of wax paper or aluminum foil before storing them in freezer-safe containers or bags will go a long way to making sure your food doesn’t go to waste.

Note that no food will last indefinitely without developing freezer burn, so another way to make sure you’re avoiding those pesky ice crystals from developing is to rotate the food in your freezer so you’re eating the oldest items first, which are the most at-risk of catching freezer burn.

Related: How to Freeze Fruit, Cheese, Leftovers and More

Top Tips for Avoiding Freezer Burn on Commonly Frozen Foods

1. If you’re serious about keeping frozen foods as fresh as possible, buy a vacuum sealer. This is a surefire way to make sure the packaging is completely airtight.

2. Buy too much bread? Slice loaves and store the slices in a large plastic freezer bag, making sure to remove as much air as possible. You’ll have fresh bread to toast for weeks to come! 

3. Found yourself with too much produce? It can be frozen, but most vegetables benefit from a quick blanch or steam prior to freezing. Once cooked, shock with cold water, then dry and freeze in airtight containers or freezer bags.

Related: Effortless Instant Pot Freezer Meals for Easy Weeknights

More Tips to Keep in Mind When Freezing Food

1. Never freeze hot food. Instead, allow it to come to room temperature before you freeze.

2. If you’re freezing liquid-heavy foods (think soups and stews), make sure you leave some room in the containers, as liquid expands when frozen. Place plastic wrap touching the liquid/food before you close the lid to avoiding potential freezer burn.

Related: The One Healthy Soup That Should Always Be in Your Freezer

3. Broth and stock are super useful things to have on hand, but how often does a recipe call for a small amount, leaving you with leftovers? Solution? Freeze it in ice-cube trays! As soon as it’s frozen, transfer to an airtight bag or container to ensure a constant supply that’s practical in size.

4. Do you have slightly past-their-prime produce lingering in your crisper? Put your freezer to work. Frozen fruit is perfect for smoothies, and frozen vegetables can be used in cooked dishes. No one will ever know they were anything other than fresh!

freezer-bag-of-pumpkin

5. Many people don’t think to freeze butter, but if you have a few sticks about to expire, pop them into the freezer to keep it fresh for longer. Note that it’s best to use quickly once thawed, making it perfect for baking!

Related: Building a Zero-Waste Kitchen is Easier Than You Think. Here’s How to Make it Happen

6. Cookie dough is a perfect candidate for freezing, so you’ll never be far from a freshly-baked treat! Scoop dough and freeze directly on baking trays. Once frozen solid, place the dough in airtight bags, or wrap them tightly in plastic and just bake however many you need. The dough will last in the freezer for up to three months.

Related: Anna Olson Explains How to Properly Freeze Just About Everything

7. Portion items when you freeze them so you can easily select the right amount of food to thaw, avoiding unnecessary waste.

8. Label all foods with the date you froze them, and don’t forget to rotate items and use older foods up first.

Related: How to Prep Slow Cooker Freezer Meals for Busy Nights

While freezing items is a great way to avoid waste, there are some other foods that you should never freeze.

5 Foods That Never Belong in Your Freezer (And Why):

1. Open packages of coffee beans (and ground) will absorb freezer smells. Make sure it’s stored in an airtight container, not the bag you bought it in.

2. Cooked pasta, like spaghetti, will not hold its structure when frozen and thawed, it will turn to mush (baked pasta dishes like lasagna, however, are perfect candidates for freezing).

3. Raw potatoes turn black when frozen due to a chemical reaction, so make sure to quickly blanch chopped potatoes before you freeze them.

4. Melon will turn mushy when frozen and thawed due to its high water content, so while it’s fine to use frozen in drinks, for example, it won’t be any good for a fruit salad.

5. Raw eggs in their shell will explode when frozen. If you find yourself needing to freeze eggs, crack them and lightly beat them before freezing them in an ice cube tray or muffin tin. When completely frozen, you can put them in a freezer bag where they will keep for up to six months.

Want to make the most of your freezer? Watch this video on how to prep food for freezing.

College Grocery List: The Only 5 Ingredients You Need to Make Multiple Meals

Headed to college this fall? Wondering how you’re going to feed yourself with a limited budget, equipment and facilities? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered with this list of five ingredients you’ll want to keep on hand, so you’ll only be 30 or so minutes away from an ultra-tasty meal. You can stretch these ingredients into a multitude of simple dishes that’ll keep you well-fed and satisfied throughout the school year (no cafeteria required).

1. Spaghetti

A staple item in most households, spaghetti is something you’ll want to always have on hand because it’s so versatile. Worried about the dishes? Did you know that with many pasta dishes you can cook the spaghetti right in the sauce? Less cleanup is always a good thing!

● Make Cacio e Pepe, a classic dish where all the ingredients are cooked together in one pot, and the sauce reduces while the pasta cooks, no draining necessary. You don’t even need to wait for the water to boil!

● You can’t go wrong with Spaghetti and Meatballs, a dependable dinner staple that’ll fill you right up. Do yourself a favour and make a big batch of Meatballs and Sauce to keep in your freezer, so you’ve got a proper meal at your fingertips any time!

● Looking for something different? This Spaghetti and Meatball Bake lets you eat spaghetti and meatballs by the slice instead of the bowl! Each slab of this easy-to-prepare casserole has tiny meatballs and pockets of cheese. Change it up by using cooked sausage slices, or add extra veggies if you have them on hand.

● Got extra cooked spaghetti? No problem – this Genius 20-Minute Spaghetti Frittata is a great way to disguise leftovers as a completely new meal!

2. Eggs

If you’re going to keep one “fresh” food on hand, it has to be eggs. They’re so versatile: you can use them in breakfast, lunch and dinner recipes for an easy, tasty protein fix. Hard or soft-boil them, fry them or use them in these recipe suggestions – the possibilities are endless!

● A classic way to use eggs and all the “bits and pieces” in your fridge is in a Veggie-Filled Frittata. Not only are they simple to make, it’s a “one and done” dish that cooks up in less than 30 minutes. It also makes for tasty leftovers.

● Looking for something a little more substantial? Whip up a Quick Quiche. If you use store-bought pie crust, this meal could not be any easier. Once again, you can customize the filling according to which ingredients you have on hand. It’s excellent to make on the weekend for meals throughout the week, and pairs perfectly with a Simple Green Salad.

● Eggs are also a staple ingredient for brunch. Dishes like Eggs Benedict that you might enjoy in a restaurant are actually fairly simple to make at home. Got eggs? Got English muffins? You’re halfway there! Even that fancy sounding Hollandaise sauce is simple to make at home.

● Lastly, all students need a reliable on-the-go meal that can stand-in for breakfast, lunch or as a healthy between-class snack hack. These Prosciutto-Wrapped Egg Cups are here for you.

3. Canned Tomatoes

Canned tomatoes should be a staple in anyone’s pantry, but particularly in a college student’s, because of how versatile they are. A simple can of tomatoes can transform into any number of dishes. Bonus? If you have an immersion blender or mini blender, you can make your own tomato juice!

● Are you a fan of breakfast for lunch or dinner? Shakshuka should be a go-to meal of yours. Stewed veggies with poached eggs makes an excellent quick, healthy meal for one, but it’s easy to batch up if you’re cooking for a crowd! Use a Quick Ratatouille as a base for even more flavour. You can also make the Ratatouille on its own for a quick and easy meal to serve over rice, or with crusty bread to soak up the sauce.

● A foolproof way to transform a can of tomatoes is to make Tomato Soup (with grilled cheese, obviously). This tasty version features mini bacon grilled cheese sandwiches, taking things up a notch to create the ultimate comfort food pairing.

● Get inspired by the flavours of Middle Eastern cuisine and whip together a Moroccan Vegetable Couscous Dish in just 30 minutes. Canned tomatoes are used as the base, together with frozen squash and a can of chickpeas.

● Why let a can of tomatoes sit untouched on your shelf, when Skillet Chicken Parmesan could be in your future? Use crushed canned tomatoes, or tomato puree for the base for a quick, comforting dinner that certainly beats the cafeteria.

4. Frozen Mixed Vegetables

Trying to eat healthy on a college student’s budget isn’t always easy, especially when you factor in the cost of fresh fruits and vegetables. One way around this is to substitute frozen veggies where possible. Flash frozen when in season, they’re the next best thing compared to fresh, and also budget friendly. If you have these in your freezer, there are so many ways you can feed yourself!

● A classic way to use frozen vegetables is in a Quick Fried Rice. Add a splash of soy sauce for flavour and you’ve got yourself a healthy meal in a flash. Incorporate chicken, beef or tofu for extra protein if desired, or simply make a Plain Omelette and chop it into the rice and veggies for a restaurant favourite that’s easy to replicate at home.

● Looking to batch cook a recipe to enjoy throughout the week? If you’ve got frozen veggies on hand, you’ve got the makings of a tasty Vegetable Soup. Add cooked leftover turkey or chicken for a complete meal in a bowl!

● Hankering for some comfort food? Ramp up your Casserole game by adding a medley of frozen veggies into the mix. This drool-worthy recipe by Alton Brown is a creative (and easier) take on chicken pot pie.

● Grill your frozen vegetables, then add them to hearty Vegetarian Burritos. Serve with rice or salad on the side for a satisfying meal in a flash!

5. English Muffins

While you might not always have fresh bread on hand,  if you have a small freezer, store English muffins, which are the perfect base for so many great recipes! The obvious way to use these is toasted with butter and a sweet or savoury topping, but there are plenty of creative ways to fancy them up and make them all the more meal-worthy.

● We’ve already seen how muffins can be used for Eggs Benedict, but how about for a proper Breakfast Sandwich or even in place of a Burger Bun? They’re arguably the most versatile bread product there is, so keep an extra frozen pack in the fridge for when you’re in a meal pinch!

● Craving French Toast, but don’t have any bread on hand? Opt for English muffins instead, served alongside fresh fruit, eggs and bacon for a hearty meal that’ll keep you full and energized through all your morning classes.

● We’re a bit obsessed with these Easy English Muffin Pizzas (read: no need to worry about wasting precious time making the dough!), which can be assembled ahead and kept in the freezer for a satisfying anytime snack or meal. They’re perfect for those late-night study sessions.

● Other creative uses for English muffins include subbing them to make a sweet Bread Pudding, using them as the base for Tuna Melts, or even chopping them and drizzling with oil to make Crispy Croutons!

For more quick cooking tips and hacks, see these 35 budget-friendly recipes with canned beans, our best affordable chicken dinners and 25 cheap dinner ideas for two that won’t break the bank.

Your Ultimate Guide to Freezing Food

Using your freezer to preserve make-ahead meals, desserts, snacks and more, can save you money, reduce food waste and turn you into a kitchen saviour on busy weeknights. But you can’t get ahead of the game if you don’t know what can freeze and for how it can be frozen.

Foods high in water, like melons and squash, don’t freeze well, rendering them granular upon defrosting. While others like chicken breasts, cookie dough and chili were seemingly made for the deep freeze. From vegetables and fruit to fully prepared dinners, you’ll want to keep our food freezing guide handy next time you’re in the mood to stockpile.

freezer temperature

Essential Freezing Tips:
– Label foods before freezing with the date and its contents.
– Make at least one meal per week to use up freezer foods.
– Prevent freezer burn by using freezer-friendly bags, not the oftentimes thin plastic the food comes in.
– If freezing soups, stews and other dishes that are high in liquids, remember that when frozen, food expands, so be sure to leave headspace on your container to avoid bursting.
– Keep freezer temperature at -18ºC (0ºF).
– Remove as much air as possible from containers and bags of food to avoid spoilage and freezer burn.
– Defrost your freezer according to manufacturer’s directions at least twice per year.
– When in doubt, throw it out!

Produce:
Vegetables: 6 to 12 months
Fruit: 6 to 12 months
Juices and juice concentrates: 6 to 12 months
Prepared smoothies: 1 month

Produce not to freeze: melons, citrus (juice can be frozen, no whole fruit or segments), apples, pears, lettuce, radishes, alfalfa sprouts, potatoes (unprepared, you can freeze mashed potatoes), eggplant, mashed pumpkin and squash

vegetables-frozen-blocks-beans-peas-broccoli-corn-assorted-spinach

Bread and Grains:
Baked bread: 3 months
Unbaked bread: 1 month
Pizza (homemade): 1 to 2 months
Cooked rice: 3 months
Cooked whole grains: 3 months
Cooked pasta: 3 months

Bread and grains not to freeze: cooked quinoa, uncooked grains, uncooked pasta, cereal, cooked and raw oatmeal

Meat and Poultry:
Beef (steaks): 6 to 12 months
Pork: 4 to 6 months
Lamb: 6 to 12 months
Chicken and Turkey (whole): 12 months
Chicken and Turkey (parts): 6 months
Ground meat and poultry: 3 to 6 months
Sausages: 2 to 3 months
Cooked meat and poultry: 3 months

Meat and Poultry not to freeze: deli meats

Seafood:
Fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, sardines): 3 months
Lean fish (tilapia, halibut): 6 months
Cooked fish: 4 to 6 months
Shellfish: 3 months
Lobster: 12 months
Oysters: 2 to 3 months
Clams: 2 to 3 months
Mussels: 2 to 3 months

Seafood not to freeze: canned fish (in can, you can freeze canned fish outside of can in a separate container up to 3 months)

frozen food in freezer

Dairy and Eggs:
Milk: 3 to 6 months
Butter (unsalted, salted): 8 to 12 months
Margarine: 12 months
Eggs (out of shell): 1 month
Hard cheese: 6 months

Dairy and Eggs not to freeze: whole eggs in shell, hard boiled or cooked eggs, cottage cheese, yogurt, soft cheese (goat cheese, cream cheese), sour cream, buttermilk, kefir

Beverages:
Juices and juice concentrates: 6 to 12 months
Milk: 3 to 6 months
Prepared smoothies: 1 month

Beverages not to freeze: carbonated drinks, soda, beer, wine, coffee (beans and brewed), tea (leaves and brewed), anything in glass bottles

Prepared Meals and Miscellaneous:
Broth: 3 months
Soups: 3 months
Stews: 3 months
Chili: 3 months
Casseroles (without eggs, meat or fish): 2 months
Casseroles (with eggs, meat or fish): 1 month
Frozen TV dinners: 3 to 4 months

Miscellaneous not to freeze: mayonnaise, prepared deli salads (egg salad, tuna salad, macaroni salad), salad dressings

Desserts and Baked Goods:
Cookies (baked): 6 to 8 months
Cookie dough (unbaked): 3 months
Cake (frosted): 1 month
Cake (unfrosted): 3 months
Cheesecake: 6 to 8 months
Pie (unbaked, fruit): 2 to 4 months
Pie (baked, fruit): 6 to 8 months
Pie (baked, pumpkin, sweet potato, pecan): 1 to 2 months
Muffins and quick breads: 6 to 12 months

Desserts and Baked Goods not to freeze: custards, cream pies, pudding, prepared milkshakes

Want to get the most out of your freezer? Watch this video on how to prep food for freezing.