How to Freeze

A few friends were discussing how best to freeze poppy seed chicken over on Teri’s Facebook, and then my dear friend and real estate crank Christine asked me to do a post on containers to use for freezing, and then my other dear friend Lisa wrote a blog post on the topic and referenced us like we’re experts, so I felt obligated to own up to this:

I don’t have an entirely satisfactory method, yet, for organizing my freezer. When those Glad/Ziploc containers first came out, I was like, “YES!” and filled my whole freezer with chicken stock in all sizes. A year later I realized they don’t really hold up well in the long term and had a bunch of cracked lids and containers I couldn’t even recycle. Then I got a mess of slightly more expensive faux-tupperware from Ikea (pictured below as dry storage) and they are okay, but not super freezer trustworthy. Also, I never have the p-touch handy when putting away frozen goods and the labeling of both the crack-prone Gladware and Ikea plastics is a problem. I lean towards just slapping on a post it note which works okay.

For frozen meals I want to keep on hand to give away, I like to use disposable foil pans. But I never know how to seal them. I tend to wrap them in plastic and then foil (and if my husband is around, he adds another layer of plastic and then foil) and then have to remember to take the plastic off before giving it away lest the unsuspecting casserole recipient bake it with the plastic. (One tip I do have for casseroles to give away is to write up the reheating instructions on a 3×5 and tape it to the casserole when you freeze it- that way you know what it is and don’t have to go look up how to heat it before giving it away.) But then I read this tip (in, naturally, an article about poppy seed chicken) that was sheer genius- just put your 8×8 casserole pan into a freezer bag! And freeze! Which is totally what I am doing from now on.

Except, you know, there’s a limit on how many casserole pans I can fit in my freezer. Unlike Teri, we only have a regular old freezer here and most of the time it is filled with a Costco amount of frozen waffles. So while I usually have one or two casseroles in the freezer (one to give, one for us), I try to limit those to casseroles that need their shape- like lasagnas, or stuffed shells.  For regular casseroles, like poppyseed chicken or these curried chicken thighs, or for stews or chili or meat (cooked or uncooked) I’ll just put them in a regular freezer bag. You can put them back in a casserole dish to bake. Do be sure to use a fancy freezer bag normally I am all about the generic brand but you want a good Ziploc bag for freezing, with the nice big write on label section. Otherwise your Sharpie will wear off in the freezer and then you’ll be holding your freezer bag thinking, “Is this sweet potato puree or butternut squash? Is this pulled pork or buffalo chicken? (Thanks to Emily for the recommendation on that one).

So. Ziploc freezer bags. That’s my big “what to freeze in” solution. It does not make for a pretty freezer (note that I put in a picture of a pantry shelf in this post, not my freezer) but it works well. What do y’all use?

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3 Responses to How to Freeze

  1. Xtine Rice says:

    Whatcha can do to make it prettier is make sure they freeze flat, on the bottom of the freezer. Then, basically you’ll have this manageable-shaped ziploc. Once it’s frozen, you can put it sideways. And you’ll have a bunch of things that are the same size.

    I only do this for raw stuff, and for tortillas, which you don’t want to freeze in a bent shape. For cooked stuff, well I don’t have any cooked stuff because I was waiting for you to tell me what to do, which sounds like the metal trays to me! Great idea. Thanks

  2. hannahspector says:

    D’oh! I forgot my biggest tip about freezing cooked stuff in ziploc bags. To fill the ziploc bag, put it inside a bowl or cup (liquid measuring cups work great) and fold it over the edge. Then just ladle your chili or whatever into it- no spilling. I remembered this tonight when I was putting half of the buffalo chicken into a ziploc.

    (Also, a small tip about the buffalo chicken for anyone who may try it- Trader Joe’s sells a spreadable blue cheese which is perfect to put on the bun when serving.)

  3. Xtine Rice says:

    You are a genius. OMG.
    Let’s say you put it in a Ziploc, in the metal tray. Froze. Removed from tray and put in freezer. When you’re ready to cook it, you slip it back into the metal tray or even your fire king/pyrex container. (removing the ziploc first of course)

    Ok – going to try it. There are a million ways this can go bad.

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