A super organised teacher has offered her ultimate storage guide to keeping frozen meals fresher for longer in the freezer.
Katie Lolas, from Sydney, has been religiously meal prepping her breakfasts, lunches and snacks every week after she developed digestive issues and IBS.
In her latest Instagram post, the 35-year-old said frozen meals can taste just as good as fresh if stored correctly – as she revealed exactly how long meats, fruits and vegetables last in the freezer.
‘You’d know my preference is fresh meals over frozen. However, for the time poor (which let’s face it, is most of us), having nutritious, frozen meals to grab on demand can be a life saver,’ she wrote.
‘Over time, I’ve picked up a few little strategies to ensure my frozen prep is just as delicious as when it was first cooked.’
Super organised teacher Katie Lolas (pictured), from Sydney, has offered her ultimate guide to keeping frozen meals fresher for longer in the freezer
How to keep frozen meals fresh and tasty
1. Freeze meats and fresh produce sooner rather than later
2. Freeze in individual portions
3. When batch cooking meals, let the food cool before storing in airtight containers
4. Always label your frozen food
5. Don’t overcrowd your freezer
Katie said you should always store protein such as chicken, beef, lamb, pork and fish as well as fresh produce in the freezer ‘sooner, rather than later’.
‘Not all produce freezes well, but plenty of fruits and vegetables can be frozen, and freezing your produce can save you money if you know you aren’t going to get to cooking it in time,’ she said.
‘Just don’t wait until your veggies are looking sad and limp, or you’ve reached the best before date on the meat packet.’
Next, she said meals should be stored individually portioned before freezing.
‘The food will freeze faster and thaw faster when you are ready to enjoy. This will also eliminate the need to thaw and refreeze large batches, which can be unsafe,’ she said.
‘When batch cooking meals, let the food cool before storing in airtight containers. Once cooled, freeze immediately to retain maximum freshness.’
Katie said raw chicken can last up to two days in the fridge, or three to four days when cooked. While raw chicken can last up to 12 months in the freezer, or six months when cooked
Raw beef, lamb and pork can stay in the fridge between three to five days, or up to 12 months in the freezer. Raw ground meat lasts one to two days in the fridge or four months in the freezer. While cooked meats last between three to four days in the fridge or six months in the freezer
Raw fish can be stored in the fridge for one to two days, or in the freezer for up to eight months while cooked fish can last in the fridge for three to four days or up to three months in freezer
Fresh is always best but if you run out of time to eat them, fruits can last three to five days in the fridge or up to 12 months in the freezer, while vegetables can be stored between three to four days in the fridge or up to 12 months in the freezer
Another tip is you should never overcrowd your freezer.
‘Doing so may mean that items don’t freeze evenly throughout, and it may impact the seal which can throw off the temperature of your freezer,’ Katie explained.
Frozen meals should always be labeled with a sharpie.
‘Let’s not talk about how many times I’ve pulled something out of the freezer and thought “um, what is this?”,’ she said.
Katie said one of the safest and best ways to thaw frozen food is ‘slow and in the refrigerator’.
‘The safest way to thaw frozen food, whatever it may be, is slow and in the refrigerator. Set it on a plate to catch any condensation, and keep in mind that this method could take up to 24 hours,’ she said.
‘You can also follow the defrost setting on your microwave, but ensure you don’t accidentally cook your food.
‘For safety, never defrost food on the counter out in the open, and never refreeze food that has been thawed.’