Top Tips for Freezing Leftovers and Make-Ahead Meals

Jun 1 2016
Question@2x Hi Hungry Girl,

I love your recipes! However, I'm usually just cooking for one or two. Can I freeze the leftovers? It would be great to have a freezer full of healthy options! Any tips?

Lots of Leftovers
Answer@2x Hi Lots of Leftovers,

It's a great idea to freeze extra servings of HG recipes! But before you hightail it to the freezer, read on for tips...

Divvy up the food into individual servings. This is smart for a couple of reasons. First, it means the food will thaw and reheat faster and more evenly. Second, it'll help with portion control! You're basically making DIY frozen meals, snacks, and desserts for one. So great...

Always let the food cool to room temp before you freeze it. If you put hot or warm food in the freezer, it could increase the freezer's temperature and partially thaw the foods around it. Not good. So always let the food cool completely before you put it in the freezer. BTW, portioning out those single servings will help it cool faster.

Wrap it up. The better you wrap your food, the longer it'll last and the fresher it'll taste. Plus, wrapping food keeps freezer burn at bay. For handheld items, securely wrap each one in plastic wrap; then transfer them to a sealable plastic bag or freezer-safe container, remove as much air as possible, and seal. For everything else, use a freezer-safe sealable container; if you plan on using the microwave to reheat the food, make sure it's also microwave safe. Pick one that's a little larger than the food itself; food can expand when it freezes and can bubble up when it's reheated.

When it's time to thaw, you've got a couple of options. Your best bet is to transfer the food to the fridge the night before you plan to eat it. Then just reheat it once you're ready to eat. But if you want to eat it ASAP, use the thaw setting on your microwave; remove any plastic wrap first, and make sure the container is microwave safe! For meals and soups (anything not handheld), vent the lid.

What to freeze. Meat, poultry, fish, baked goods, soups, and stews all freeze really well. Meatloaves, casseroles, and burger patties work too. Check out the mini roundup below, and click here to search and browse the whole site!

What not to freeze. Unfortunately, veggies with high water content (like spaghetti squash and zucchini) don't freeze or reheat well. But don't rule out cauliflower rice -- it freezes great!

Clean & Hungry Heads-Up! There are specific "freeze it" guides for many of the recipes in Hungry Girl Clean & Hungry, including our DIY tortillas, burger patties, oatmeal bakes, waffles, slow-cooker recipes, and baked desserts. So if you love the idea of filling your freezer with easy all-natural options, you should definitely check out that book!

Chew on this:

It's officially June, which means it's officially National Fresh Fruit and Vegetables Month. Celebrate by munching on a crisp Fuji apple... or your fresh fruit/veggie of choice!

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