Freezing Cooked Food for Future Meals

I have been trying to plan ahead and cook ahead so that we have meals and snacks in the freezer. Whenever I make something, I try to make extra to freeze for later.

That got me to thinking about the proper way to freeze food, so I did some research. If you freeze food for future meals, you'll want to follow these steps to be sure your food is safe to eat. You may even want to do some further research at some of the links listed at the bottom.

Step 1: Cool the food slightly at room temperature before refrigeration

  • Place food on a cooling rack for approximately 30 minutes.
  • Limit the depth of the food to 2 inches
  • It's okay to refrigerate food while it's still warm (but slightly cooled)

Step 2: Complete cooling in the refrigerator
  • Cool food in refrigerator before transferring to the freezer.
  • Food cooling in the refrigerator should be loosely covered to allow heat to escape.

Step 3: Pack foods into bags
  • Use freezer bags, not storage bags. Freezer bags are thicker and will keep your food fresh longer.
  • Food in bags should be "flattened" prior to freezing. A rounded shape will take longer to thaw, and flattened bags will be easier to stack in the freezer.

Step 4: Label foods and keep track of what you have
  • Use permanent marker.
  • Label with name of food, packaging date, number of servings and any additional information you will find helpful when it comes time to prepare the food.
  • Keep a list of what is in your freezer.

Step 5: Thaw and cook frozen foods
  • Plan ahead for a slow, safe thaw in the refrigerator.
  • If you thaw in the microwave or in cold water, cook the food immediately after thawing.

For more information on safe freezing and thawing of food, visit the following sites: