Tips for better freezing, thawing, and reheating.

By Christine Quinlan
Updated May 23, 2017
Cut Down Food Waste
Credit: © Brian Woodcock

Like F&W, our sister publication Cooking Light is dedicating the month of November to looking at clever ways to cut back on food waste. From embracing the freezer as a storage device, to setting your fridge at the right temperature, to creating a meal plan, Cooking Light has 35 tips for eliminating food waste. Here, 5 of those suggestions for getting the most out of your freezer.

1. Freeze the Right Stuff
Saucy dishes, soups, and stews freeze well since liquids are fairly forgiving upon reheating. Individual items like dumplings, small pizzas, or potpies reheat quickly and evenly. Cooked grains and pastas lose valuable starch upon storing—it’s best to enjoy those the week they’re made.

2. Size It Smartly
Most casserole dishes are too big for the microwave (handles also pose problems). Look for square glass containers like Ziploc VersaGlass–they’ll fit in your microwave and won’t hog space in your freezer.

3. Use The Best Bag
Large plastic freezer bags are made of thicker plastic than regular zip-top plastic bags, a better guard against freezer burn. Lay flat to maximize freezer space, then microwave until pliable before moving to a dish or saucepan.

4. Plan For The Thaw
Every food is freezable, technically. But when it comes to thawing and reheating, some require an overnight thaw or up to 2 hours in the oven–not so convenient for hectic weeknights. We believe that for real convenience, recipes should go from freezer to table in an hour or less. For longer thaws, remember to plan ahead.

5. Label Clearly
The freezer can quickly become a lost world for forgotten dishes and odds and ends you’re just not ready to use or throw away. Label containers clearly with the date they were made and a date 2 months in the future, by which the dish should be used. Keep a list of meals on the freezer door and cross out as the freezer empties