Freeze and Forget It! by American Diabetes Association

Frozen meals can be very appealing. Push a few buttons on the microwave, and you can have dinner ready in minutes. The frozen food industry has come a long way with these handy meals, but it can still be hard to wade through the unhealthy options. Try freezing your own healthy recipes instead!

Freeze and Forget It! Leftovers will keep in your refrigerator for a few days. For many dishes, freezing them can extend the shelf-life for up to three months. Not only will making your own frozen meals save you time, but it can help you cut down on waste, saving you money.

Here are a few tips for making your own healthy freezable meals at home.

Freezing Tips

1. When you have a busy week ahead, homemade freezer meals will come in handy. Be sure to thaw your frozen meal for 1-2 days ahead of time in the refrigerator. Smaller containers will thaw more quickly than large containers. There are also more safe thawing tips below.

2. Some recipes will freeze better than others. Foods that freeze well include soups, stews, chili, casseroles, meatloaf, and roasts.

3. When you find time in your busy week to cook, make it a point to choose a recipe that makes a large batch. That way you know you’ll have extras to freeze. You can also double recipes to ensure you’ll have extras to use for freezable meals.  

4. Make portion control easy too. When you freeze meals, use small single-serving containers.

5. You can cook fresh chicken or turkey ahead of time. Slice the cooked meat, freeze it, and defrost when you need a lean protein source in your meals. This can also be a good alternative to using processed lunch meats.

6. Keep in mind there are some foods that don’t freeze well. Salads including tuna salad, macaroni salad, and egg salad don’t freeze well either. In addition, dishes with creamy or milk-based sauces and mayonnaise will not reheat to their original quality, though this may depend on the recipe.  
Frozen meals save you time, help you cut down on waste, and save you money

7. Avoid freezer burn by storing your freezable meals in airtight containers. You can also tightly wrap your leftovers, or use a freezer bag and remove as much air as possible before sealing. If using a container, fill it close to the top, leaving only a small amount of space because it will expand during freezing.

8. Before freezing, put your food in shallow containers to cool faster. Be sure that you don’t let food sit out at room temperature for more than 2 hours.

9. Don’t pack your freezer from bottom to top. Over-packing it will block the air circulation. For proper freezing, you want it to stay at 0 degrees C or 32 degrees F.

10. Freshness and quality at the time of freezing can make a big difference in taste. If a food is frozen while at peak quality, or the same day you cooked, it will taste better when thawed than if you freeze it days later.

Thawing Safety

Never thaw food at room temperature or on your kitchen counter. This can leave your food unsafe to eat. There are 3 ways to safely thaw frozen food:

1. Place in the refrigerator ahead of time to thaw. Thawing time will depend on the amount of food you are thawing.

2. Fill a bowl or sink with cold water. Put the food in a leak-proof sealable plastic bag and immerse it in the water. Change the water every 30 minutes and cook immediately after the thawing is complete.

3. Defrost the food in your microwave and cook it immediately after thawing.


Related Articles

  • 12 Money-Saving Tips for Planning Meals on a Budget

    12 Money-Saving Tips for Planning Meals on a Budget

    The dollars can add up when feeding the family for a month, but healthy meals don’t have to break the bank! Eating at home is almost always cheaper per meal than eating out, even at fast food restaurants. With some smart shopping and planning, the savings can be significant. Plus, you can plan for any type of eating pattern—keto, low-carb, Mediterranean, vegetarian—while saving money and preparing healthy, diabetes-friendly, and delicious meals.

  • How to Cook a Chicken

    How to Cook a Chicken

    Chicken is one of the most budget-friendly and diabetes-friendly meats available. It's also easy to prepare and tasty, too! Having cooked chicken on hand makes preparing protein-packed meals a cinch. Precooked rotisserie chickens are widely available, but the sodium content is usually very high. Cooking a whole chicken at home is easier than you think, and lets you control the ingredients. Read on to learn our simple method for Roasting a whole chicken, plus 5 recipes that you can make with your leftover cooked chicken.

  • Meal Prep: 3-for-1 Beef

    Meal Prep: 3-for-1 Beef

    Everybody likes getting more for less! How about getting more meals from less recipes? With some strategic meal planning and prepping, you can create several days’ worth of meals with just a few recipes and one trip to the grocery store. You can even prepare all of the recipes at once and store meals in single serve containers in the fridge for grab-and-go meals all week.

  • Top 20 Recipes of 2020

    Top 20 Recipes of 2020

    2020 has been a year like no other! One result of quarantines and lockdown was that people were doing more cooking at home. This year’s top recipes include lots of quick and easy beginner recipes, plus meals that make use of pantry staples to accommodate fewer trips to the grocery store. These are great recipes to add to your repertoire for many (hopefully better) years to come!

  • Watch: How to Cook Braised Chicken

    Watch: How to Cook Braised Chicken

    Watch the recording of the American Diabetes Association® live cooking class series where we show you step-by-step how to make healthy, tasty meals that are perfect for people with diabetes. Check out how to make the cider braised chicken recipe.

  • Top 20 Recipes of 2018

    Top 20 Recipes of 2018

    As we move into the new year and thoughts turn to healthy resolutions and diabetes meal planning, the Diabetes Food Hub team looked back at the first year of the site and reviewed the most popular recipes as determined by, you, our visitors. Favorites ranged from a low-carb chicken and mushroom superstar to breakfast frittatas just begging for a personal spin. Altogether, they make a fantastic round up of meals designed to help you be the best you in 2019 and beyond. Click on the slideshow below to see the top crowd pleasers of 2018.

Recommended for You