Can you refreeze butter? Did you go a little nuts in the early days of COVID-19, and now you’re staring down meat, veggies and dairy in your freezer that are months old? Don’t worry, these days many of us are buying food in bulk to reduce trips to the store due to the virus. Freezing is one of the best ways to extend the shelf life of some foods and combat food waste. But if frozen improperly or for too long, you could be in for an icy reception months later. “Putting dates on food stored in the freezer takes the guess work out,” Jacobs said. “It also helps you follow the ‘first in, first out’ rule so you utilize older food items first.”
To prevent pieces from freezing together (and for freezing delicate fruits like berries), spread the pieces out in a single layer on a plastic wrap-lined sheet pan. Once they are fully frozen, transfer the pieces to your container and place it immediately in the freezer. With this method, any ice films form around each individual piece, rather than freezing all the pieces together in a big chunk. Many nights if I am making a lasagna or baked ziti, instead of making one, I make two: one to eat right away and one to freeze later on. Cook once, eat twice. It’s the same amount of work and you will be happy to have a casserole prepared on those busy nights. It’s also great to have a made-ahead dish on hand when you want to bring something to someone who’s sick or having a baby.
Pro Tip: When freezing any liquid, leave room for expansion. You don’t want an explosion in your freezer! Leave at least a half-inch or more of space at the top of your container. This one is probably a big ole duh to you, but you can freeze both raw and cooked meat. We like to buy meat in bulk, cook it, and then freeze in smaller, meal-sized portions. It makes dinner prep super easy on those busy nights! Beef – A vacuum sealer will save your wallet and keep your raw meat from getting freezer burn. They’re totally worth the investment! You can also pre-cook ground meat to make dinner go quicker and easier. Chicken – Freeze chicken as soon as you bring it home or cook it before you forget about it! You can freeze grilled and shredded chicken for easy meal prep. Read more information at How to freeze.
“Commercially caught fish and shellfish, flash frozen on the boat at sea, are usually vacuum-sealed and safe to keep for six months, although the flavor may go stale if you keep it that long,” he says. Even mild thawing can shorten a fish’s freshness, he adds, so it’s important to keep frozen seafood completely frozen. That means if you’re running other errands after going to the grocery store, it may be worth bringing a cooler with ice packs to ensure your frozen fish stays at the right temperature. If you’re buying fresh fish, use freezer-designed packaging like freezer bags or freezer paper. You may also want to consider investing in a vacuum sealer for fish and other foods.