"To eat is a necessity, but to eat intelligently is an art." - La Rochefoucauld


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Quick Tip: Save Money and Time by Freezing Leftovers

Making eight servings of chili doesn't really take that much longer than cooking four, and it can save you money and time in the long run. If you prepare in bulk, it pays to know a little bit about the best practices for freezing food. Here are a few tips:

-  Know which foods you shouldn't freeze. Eggs in their shells or food in cans are not safe for your freezer. (However, if you remove the food from the can, then it is safe to freeze.) And other foods, such as mayo, lettuce, and cream sauce, are technically safe to freeze, but they won't taste good after their defrosted.

- Know which food freeze well. Soups, casseroles, chili, pies, lasagna, meatballs, marinara sauce, and many other foods taste just as good after a few months in the freezer. You can also seek out specific make-ahead recipes. If you're not sure about a particular meal, cook up a little extra and give it a try.

- Don't let the food stand. Instead, cool it in the fridge for 30 minutes to a few hours, and then freeze it. Putting warm food in the freezer can raise the temperature of other foods, and also the center of the meal may not freeze fast enough to prevent spoilage.

- Store it in small amounts. If there are two of you eating, put two servings per container. This way, you can just defrost the quantity that you will be eating.

- Wrap it well. This will help to maintain freshness. Only use only moisture-resistant containers for storage, such as plastic bags and Tupperware that are made for use in the freezer.

- Don't leave empty space, unless you are freezing a liquid which may expand. Otherwise, fill the empty space with crinkled wax paper. For plastic bags, squeeze out all the excess air before putting it in the freezer.

- Label your foods. You'll be thankful you did when it comes time to telling the difference between the meatballs and the chili. If you include the dates, you can be sure to use your food before it loses its taste.

Learn about the FDA's recommendations here.

Check back next week for tips on the best way to thaw your frozen meals!

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