We’re all guilty of food waste. In fact, Americans dump about 40% of their food in the trash, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Instead of throwing almost half of your food in the trash, why not use your freezer? Freezing your food can also help you cook up nearly completed dinners by simply thawing a plastic container. If you want some easy dinner ideas, take a peek at these tricks to freezing your food so that next time you have leftovers you can not only cut back on food waste, but also have next week’s dinner ready for action, just waiting in the fridge.
Easy Dinner Freezer Tips and Tricks
- How do you store your pre-cooked meats or leftovers? Place your already cooked chicken breasts on a cookie sheet and popping them in the freezer. Once they’re frozen, simply put them in a Ziploc bag, and remove the excess air. The best way to freeze these items is to wrap them in aluminum foil first, then placing them in freezer bags. You’ll never have to deal with freezer burn again! And this is a great way to cook ahead and make easy dinners later.
- Berries and other small “squishable” items such as hors d’oeuvres, meatballs, cooked ravioli can be frozen similar to your already cooked chicken breasts. Just spread ‘em on a cookie sheet, then transfer them to a freezer bag. That way, your smaller items won’t clump together as they freeze. When you’re ready to use them, just defrost your raviolis, heat them up, and serve for the easiest dinner ever.
- If you have a Sunday afternoon free, make some chicken stock, soup or sauce and freeze it up in Ziploc bags, then stack the bags horizontally. Any soup or sauce can be made ahead and stacked in your fridge, which saves space. Making stock ahead of time will give you the perfect base for a crock pot stew or soup, which can be assembled in minutes after you’ve defrosted your stock. Having tomato sauces frozen on hand will also allow you to make dinner in minutes. Thaw your sauce overnight, boil some spaghetti, serve warmed sauce over spaghetti for an easy dinner that won’t disappoint.
- When using Ziploc bags, squeeze all of the air out from the bag. One trick? Suck the air out of a bag with a straw to make your bag completely airtight. Alternatively, you can use a specialized vacuum sealer – these make storage a cinch!
- If you want to freeze a complete meal, like a casserole, make sure to freeze them in small portions so that your main course is faster to thaw. If you freeze an entire meal for four in one big container, it will take ages to defrost!
- Another tip for complete meals is instead of leaving your casserole dish in the freezer for a month, line the dish with foil, then put the meal in it. Wrap it, freeze until it solidifies, then lift out the foil and the contents inside. Your casserole will be ready, dish-free, until you’re ready to heat up another dinner time meal.
- For a great, easy breakfast meal, freeze waffles and pancakes, then defrost them the night before you are planning on serving them. For optimal freezing, let your pancakes and waffles cool after making them. Then, layer them on wax paper and freeze in a Ziploc bag. Next time you’re in the mood for some waffles, just defrost, heat, and serve for an effortless breakfast to start out the day. Some waffles will even go frozen into a toaster (if you have the large slot type). You can have fresh Belgian Waffles in minutes! No de-frosting required.
Knowing the ins and outs of freezing can help you bring full entrees with little to no effort. Just keep these easy dinner ideas in mind and you’ll be whipping up dinner by simply thawing and serving. A dinner that requires no effort? Now, that’s delicious.