As I was preparing to freeze our leftover pork BBQ (I pulled the pork ribs off the bones and mixed the meat with the homemade BBQ sauce), I found myself thinking about all of the food I used to waste before I began freezing leftovers.
When our family saves leftovers in the fridge, we always have the best intentions to eat them later. But inevitably I find that we will often let a week go by, and those uneaten leftovers eventually end up in the trash. I hate letting perfectly good food go to waste, especially when the only reason the food didn’t get eaten was simply because we forgot it was in the fridge.
Around a year ago (after my second child was born), I got serious about freezing leftovers. This was partly because I had a lot less time to cook, so it was easy to make extra food when I did cook and freeze it. Then I can just defrost a frozen meal for an easy and healthy dinner anytime I don’t have the time, don’t have the groceries, or simply don’t feel like cooking.
If you invest in a few simple things, you can make freezing leftovers a snap!
Here’s what I use:
Ziploc freezer bags – I keep a variety of sizes in my pantry so I can freeze leftovers in whatever portions I choose. Just make sure that when you freeze soft or liquid foods in freezer bags, you put them on a flat surface to initially freeze them. If you set them on a wire shelf to freeze, the liquid can freeze around the wires making the bag impossible to remove while frozen. Also, all Ziploc bags are BPA free.
Ziploc freezer containers – These are also great for portioning since they come in various sizes, and they stack so your freezer says organized. Just like the bags, all Ziploc containers are BPA free.
Container labels – I use the Dr Brown’s My Dot Storage Labels, but there are a variety of freezer labels available on Amazon.
Sharpies – I use these to label the food with a description and the date the meal was frozen. I like the fine point and the ultra fine point Sharpies because they are easiest to read on the Ziploc bags and food labels.
I have found that my leftovers in small containers need about 24 hours in the fridge to defrost. You can also use your microwave to defrost leftovers in microwavable containers. I frequently use the defrost setting on my microwave to do this.
Here are some tips for how long you can keep your foods frozen in the freezer. – http://www.oprah.com/health/How-Long-to-Keep-Frozen-Food-Nutrition-Advice-from-Dr-Katz
And don’t forget that you can also freeze fresh fruits and veggies when they are in season so you can enjoy them all year long! I have found that if you lay the fruits or veggies on a wax paper-lined baking sheet so they are not touching and freeze for one hour before transferring to a freezer bag or container, it is much easier to remove the perfect portion of frozen fruits and veggies at a later date.