Freezing food has to be one of the most economical things you can do to save yourself time and money in the kitchen.
Doubling a casserole or even preparing two of our Last Minute Lasagnes at once will save you cooking on another night when the weather is cold and you just want to cuddle up on the sofa instead.
But incorrect food storage can be dangerous. So before you head into the kitchen to make a super sized vat of chilli beef, spaghetti sauce or your favourite stew, pay attention to these basic food hygiene tips.
When to freeze hot food
Before adding hot food to the freeze it’s important to let it cool down. Cool cooked food as quickly as possible before adding to the freezer. You can do this by adding the pot to a sink filled with cold water. You can also stir the pot to help move the contents around and allow for more even cooling.
Once the dish is cooled and no longer steaming, you can package the food into smaller portions.
How to safely freeze food
When freezing, it pays to have good quality, freezer safe containers. Cheaper containers can crack and chip in low temperatures. Also make sure your lids are airtight to prevent spoilage. Use freezer tape to clearly mark the contents and the date cooked.
Store your portions in freezer/oven safe dishes and you can put the frozen meal straight into the oven to reheat. Make sure you check the food is piping hot before serving.
The best way to thaw food
Do not thaw food at room temperature. The safest way to thaw frozen food that is not reheated from frozen is by placing the container in the refrigerator overnight. Sure it takes a little longer but you don’t want the risk of encouraging nasty bacteria to breed in any food left out to thaw.
Plan your bulk cooking days in advance and make sure you have plenty of room in your freezer for your extra meals. Make a list of any dishes you love that can be safely frozen and reheated and next time you prepare that dish, make double. As the weather gets cooler, you will be glad of having a tasty standby dinner just waiting to reheat.