This is a companion post to our Freezing Guide. For the first post, click here!
If you properly package and label food to be frozen, they can last for one to two months. (See our Freezing Guide for more info). But what about soups and stews? Read on for helpful tips for bagging and freezing everybody’s favorite big-batch recipes—plus tips for other family favorites!
It’s wise to divide soups and stews into smaller containers to cool before freezing. Large pots of hot soups can take hours to cool completely on their own, which isn’t foodsafe. (Food should only be between 40 and 140 degrees for 4 hours, including cooking and cooling, to prevent bacteria growth.) We suggest portioning soups and stews into smaller containers so that they cool quicker. Or, place the pot of soup into an ice bath in the sink to help cool it quickly before freezing.
Freezing Other Family Favorites
A great way to save time during a busy week is to make food ahead when it’s more convenient. Read on for freezing tips with other family favorite recipes.
BURGERS: Cook them your favorite way, and cool completely. Layer cooled burger patties individually between waxed paper. Place burgers in a freezer-safe zip-top plastic bags or freezer-safe containers, and label with the date and time. To thaw, remove the desired number of patties, and thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Remove wax paper, and microwave 1 to 2 minutes or until thoroughly heated.
Related Recipe: Low-Calorie Chipotle Burgers Recipe
MEAT LOAF: The above burger method can also be used for meat loaf slices. Cool cooked meat loaf completely, and cut into thick slices. Place slices individually between wax paper ,and freeze. Thaw in refrigerator. You can reheat meat loaf slices in microwave or oven. To reheat in the oven, place slices in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Brush with your favorite meat loaf sauce, and bake at 350°F for 8 to 10 minutes or until thoroughly heated.
CAKE: One of the best ways to save time for a party or event is to do your baking ahead of time. You can freeze cake layers, brownies, and cookies to use within a few weeks. Cake layers should be baked and cooled completely. Place a circle of waxed or parchment paper on each side of the cake layer. Wrap layer tightly in plastic wrap (but not so tightly that it breaks the cake!). Make sure to place the layers in an area of the freezer where they won’t be smashed. When you’re ready to use the layers, thaw them in the refrigerator, and frost as desired.
For easy decorating, ice the cake while the layers are still frozen. The cake is much firmer and easier to frost when frozen. Let the cake stand at room temperature for at least two hours before serving.
BROWNIES: Brownies can also be made ahead and frozen. Place cooked, cooled brownies on a sheet of parchment paper, and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Thaw at room temperature. If you do not need an entire pan of brownies, they can be cut and layered in wax paper using the same method as burger patties. Just remove the amount of brownies desired for the day, and thaw at room temp. (How’s that for portion control?)
Related Recipe: Candy Brownies
COOKIES: Cookies are great for freezing! (Note: Not the frosted or filled kind, mind you.) Many cookies can be baked, cooled, and frozen in individual layers separated by wax paper.
Although this method works well for many types of cookies, let’s be real: Nothing tops a warm cookie straight out of the oven! With that in mind, freeze the dough instead. Cookie dough can be made ahead and formed into logs using plastic wrap to freeze. If you want to have a perfectly round slice-and-bake cookie, place the wrapped dough log into a used paper towel tube before freezing it. Thaw dough slightly, and slice before baking according to recipe directions.
-Text by Virginia Hornbuckle