So you’ve found a lot of great recipes that you have tried, but now you have left overs. What to do, what to do? I am a firm believer that if Stouffer’s and Sara Lee can freeze it then so can I. Freezing left-overs not only save you money because you are not wasting food. But can also be a time saver allowing you to re-heat a few home-cooked goodies for lunch. Later, I will discuss items I purposely make with the intention of freezing them, but for now we are going to focus on those good old left-overs. The bulk of most dinner foods can be frozen with the exception of green salad and few other things. The list of left-overs that can be frozen is almost endless. I have previously posted about why I freeze rice, but lets go over a few other items. Pasta, casseroles, soups, broths, gravies, desserts, cookie doughs, and meats are my most frequently frozen left-overs. Although, freezing left-overs may feel a little odd especially when its just one piece of chicken, corn on the cob, a little mash potatoes, and cake. However that little bit of left overs together makes up a full meal, a full meal a lot of people would have gone to the grocery store to purchase frozen, like a Hungry-Man meal.
Wanna talk about how to freeze left-overs?
For Soups, broths, gravies and sauces– Freezer-safe containers with very tight seals are best. Always leave a little head-space for expansion. When it come to broths, I like to actually freeze it in an ice tray first and then transfer the broth cubes to a freezer-safe bag. It’s very convenient to grab just a cube or two when I want to impart a little more flavor to some dishes. Food-Saver vacuum sealer bags work great as well, but I recommend freezing the liquid in the bag first and then vacuum sealing the bag closed.
For left-over casserole and pastas– I prefer to not use a rigid container but to instead use a bag. If the shape of the casserole doesn’t matter then vacuum sealing it is my first option. However, if it is something like lasagna and I want to preserve the shape. Lets say there were three pieces of lasagna left-over. I would wrap each piece of lasagna separately in wax paper and then wrap them each in aluminum foil. Then I would place all three pieces in a large freezer-safe bag. Convenience is the purpose behind wrapping each one individually. Because wax paper and aluminum foil are both oven safe then an individual serving can be placed straight into the oven. If a microwave is being used then the foil can be removed and then the individual serving can be placed into the microwave with the wax paper wrapping for re-heating.
In the event there is left-over cookie dough, it’s great to roll it in a shape of a log and then wrap it in freezer paper. For desserts, preserving the shape is important, a freezer-safe container will suffice.
Left-over meats I prefer to use the food-saver bags, however if those are not an option then freezer bags work fine. If it is a large amount of left over meat, then it can be separated to smaller sections using freezer papers and then each portion can be collectively placed into a freezer safe bag.
I use the same kind of labels for everything, occasionally I will write directly on the packaging. Please do not make the mistake of not labeling. Everyone believes they are going to remember what something is until 2 months later. It’s better to take the extra twenty seconds to label the food than to have to defrost something just to figure out what it is.
-Always, always, always allow the food to fully cool before freezing
-Always, always, always label food you are putting away
-Unless you are 100% sure you are going to eat your leftovers in the next day or two, then freeze them. Its better to have it frozen and need to defrost it rather than wasting money by having it go bad in the refrigerator.
-Think about frequency with regard to packaging. I love my food-saver and like to vacuum seal as much as I can, however food-saver bags cost significantly more than freezer bags. I tend to use the food saver bags for items that I know are going to sit in the freezer for an extended period of time and use the plain freezer safe zipper seal bags for something I know that I will use sooner rather than later.
-Microwave and freezer safe bento containers are great for composing and freezing your own microwavable meal.