Ten Things You Should Know About Freezing for a Crowd

two lasagna casseroles for freezingReader Hadassah is planning to freeze meals in advance of a Bat Mitzvah dinner for about 100 people. She plans on serving quiches and casseroles, but soups and baked goods also freeze well. Here are ten important tips for freezing

Speed is important. The faster you get your food frozen, the fresher it will taste when you serve it. Here are some tips to get you started:

  1. Don’t plan on freezing too many items at once, and allow space around the item you are freezing. Once the food is solid, you can stack it on top of other foods.
  2. Choose shallow containers and casserole dishes, for quicker cooling and freezing.
  3. The freezer temperature should be between 0° and –18° Fahrenheit, or –18° to –28° C.
  4. Cool foods completely before freezing. For faster cooling, place the pan in cold water. You can cool foods in the refrigerator while still warm, then move them to the freezer.
  5. Wrap foods carefully to keep liquids in, and air out. Place wax paper between layers so they won’t stick to each other.
  6. Allow room in containers and bags for food to expand while freezing, but remove any air in plastic bags. Zipper-type bags work well for storage, and can be washed and reused.
  7. Don’t use aluminum foil to store tomato-based or other acidic foods.
  8. Allow plenty of time for defrosting in the refrigerator: 24-48 hours for casseroles. You can also reheat frozen or partially frozen food in the oven. Don’t try this with a glass dish. Keep breads well-wrapped while defrosting to keep crusts crisp.
  9. Cutting casseroles in serving pieces before freezing saves time later, and allows faster freezing and defrosting. But you risk the pieces drying out sooner, or getting too brown in the oven. Rolls and mini-pizzas are easier to store and serve than larger loaves.
  10. Reheat cooked food thoroughly, to an internal temperature of 165° F. (75° C.). Bring soup to a full boil.

Photo credit: @joefoodie

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Comments

  1. Thanks! This is really helpful information. Are there disposable pans which are not aluminum foil for making and freezing lasagna?

    • You can line any container with baking paper, including a foil pan, to cut down on washing the pans afterward. I’ve also seen fancy disposable paper pans designed for baking.

  2. Since you said not to freeze tomato-based items in foil, was wondering what the alternative is.

    • I meant that you can line the foil pan with paper. As long as it’s not touching the tomato sauce you’re okay. Or use the disposable paper pans you can find in the ubiquitous disposables stores.

  3. Hannah, this is such a great post! Thank you so much, I’m always trying to figure out the best way to freeze my food. Now, all I have to do is pray really hard that one day we can afford to live someplace where I’ll have room for an additional freezer.

  4. These are great tips! Thank you so much!
    Rivki recently posted..Culture ClashMy Profile

  5. You mentioned to cool foods before freezing. I\’ve always done it, but have been nervous of letting it sit out too long. I see that you recommend putting the pan into cold water to speed it up. Thanks! This has been a big issue over the years in our family.

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