Cooking and freezing premade family meals safely: Part 2

Use these tips to freeze and store your homemade premade meals safely.

Cooking and freezing “premade” meals for your family can save you time in the kitchen and save you money if you’re in the habit of buying frozen convenient meals, or food from delis and fast food restaurants. Premade meals made at home can be made healthier because you are in control of the ingredients. Including the amount of salt, saturated fat and sugar.

Once you have finished cooking. If your food is still hot it will need to be cooled prior to freezing. Following food safety recommendations for cooling hot food will help you keep your food safe to eat. A kitchen thermometer is very helpful to have in your kitchen to check the temperature of food for doneness and ensure safe cooking temperatures are reached. Use a thermometer to check your food temperatures throughout the cooling process.

Michigan State University Extension advises cooling hot food before freezing it.

According to the University of Nebraska Extension, to cool hot food safely and efficiently:

Cool foods “slightly” at room temperature before refrigeration

  • Place hot food in a shallow container and limit the depth of food to two inches. Allow air to circulate all around the container for about 20 to 30 minutes.

Complete cooling of foods in the refrigerator

  • Cool foods to refrigerator temperature before bagging them for your freezer. It is okay to refrigerate foods while they’re still warm.
  • Loosely cover food upon refrigeration.

Pack foods into freezer bags and label them

  • Pack foods into freezer bags, not storage bags. Do not stack freezer bags until frozen so they will freeze faster.
  • Label foods using freezer tape, gummed freezer labels or permanent marking pens/crayons. Include the name of the food; packaging date; the number of servings or amount; additional helpful information, such as the form of food (sliced, chopped, etc.), any special ingredients.

Use a frozen food storage chart to work out how long food will safely keep in your freezer.

By following these food safety tips for cooking and freezing your premade meals you can help ensure that the food you have prepared for your family is not only tasty and nutritious but also safe to eat. Part 1 of this article series can be found here.

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