Max Meal Freshness: Fridge vs Freezer

Now that you’ve completed your yummy, health-conscious meal prep, how do you store your meals to ensure maximum freshness?  In this post we compare the refrigeration and freezing of prepared meals.  We also provide recommendations for containers, jars and bags that can be used for refrigerating or freezing your meals.  This post includes affiliate links.

meal-prep-freezer-friendly-meals-freezing

Meal Prep: Be sure to cool your meals before freezing

Refrigeration: Convenient & fresh…for a few days

With a quick blast in the microwave or a toss in a skillet, your refrigerated meal can be reheated and enjoyed.  You may notice however, that after several days in the refrigerator some foods begin to dry out or lose their freshness.  This problem is caused in part because refrigerators also remove moisture as they work to cool the food.  This dry circulating air sucks the moisture from our food.

The natural rotting of food also contributes to the reduction of freshness; refrigeration slows, but does not stop, the rotting progress.  Check out the FDA Refrigerator & Freezer Storage Chart  to learn the recommended number of days to refrigerate different food items.

Refrigeration Tips

  • Use air tight containers, bag or jars
  • Consume meals within a few days of refrigerating
  • Add fresh herbs or vegetables to reheated meals

Refrigeration is the better option if your meal will be eaten within 3 to 4 days.

Freezing: In for the long haul

Preparing a frozen meal takes bit more time than preparing a refrigerated one.  We recommend that you thaw your meal in the fridge for a few hours (or overnight) before reheating in the microwave or on a stove top.  Although frozen meals cannot be enjoyed as quickly as refrigerated ones, they will last much longer in their frozen state; some foods can be frozen for up to a year (FDA Refrigerator & Freezer Storage Chart).

freezer friendly sweet potato turkey shepherd's pie

Our Freezer-Friendly Sweet Potato Turkey Shepherd’s Pie

Not all foods are freezer-friendly.  Some foods, like lettuce and other high water content fruits and vegetables become soggy after freezing.  Other do-not-freeze foods include:

  • Uncooked batters with baking soda or powder
  • Eggs — in their shells, hard-cooked, or any egg-based sauces
  • Cooked pasta
  • Soft cheeses and cultured dairy

Freezing Tips

  • Cool food to room temperature before freezing
  • Undercook vegetables so that they are not extra soggy when reheated
  • Prevent freezer burn by limiting the extra air in containers, jars or bags; use appropriate sized containers.  Double wrap meat with plastic wrap when necessary
  • Add fresh herbs or vegetables to reheated meals

Freeze your meals if they won’t be eaten for more than 3 to 4 days after preparation.

Containers, Jars and Bags

Whichever method you choose to use to preserve your meals, you will need containers, bags or jars. Here’s our list of a few products that we think are great for storing prepared meals in the refrigerator or the freezer:

glasslock-containers-meal-prep-freezer-safe-microwave-oven-freezing

Glasslock Container Set

Conclusion

We all want to extend the freshness of our meals.  The refrigerator is more convenient and is the better option if your meals will be consumed within a few days.  However, if the meals won’t be consumed for several days or even weeks, freezing would guarantee a lot more freshness.  Check out the  FDA Refrigerator & Freezer Storage Chart  to learn how long you can keep food items in the refrigerator or freezer.  Now go ahead and cook!  Maybe try some of our favorite freezer-friendly recipes: Turkey Dirty Rice, Sweet Potato Turkey Shepherd’s Pie or Two-Bean Turkey Chili.

 

 

REFERENCES

  1. Choosing the Right Freezer Containers. Retrieved 2/18/2016 from http://www.thekitchn.com/choosing-the-right-freezer-containers-177506
  2. Dry Your Herbs in the Fridge. Retrieved 2/18/2016 from http://www.motherearthliving.com/cooking-methods/dry-your-herbs-in-the-fridge.aspx

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