On August 26, 2009 by Kelly

I get a lot of questions about freezer containers. A. LOT. So here is a simple guide to choosing freezer containers when you are making freezer meals.

Gallon/Quart Zippered Freezer Bags

I use these most often for items that will be thawed in the refrigerator first, and then cooked. You DO NOT want to skimp on cheap freezer bags. I have passed by the ones at the dollar stores and deep discount stores because of the quality (I have gotten them and tried them). They just are not as thick and thus I don’t believe that they will maintain the freshness of your foods for as long. I am freezing food and I want it to be able to stay good for as long as possible. When freezing items in freezer bags you may want to make sure that the contents are laying completely flat when you place them in the freezer. I have even used cake pans before to make sure that they freeze flat. Remember, whatever form they freeze in is how they will stay! Leave 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch headspace (the space between the food and the zipper or top of container). Foods expand as they freeze and you don’t want the bag to burst or to leak. I use zippered freezer bags most often for: sandwiches, quesadillas, muffins, vegetables, soups, items that will go in the crock pot to cook, and meats.

Disposable Plastic Containers

These are perfectly fine to use as well. I usually use less of these because they are a higher cost to purchase than the zippered freezer bags. However, they can be reused again and again which makes them a better environmental choice. And if you can happen to get enough use out of them they are less expensive than zippered bags. I tend to use these containers for soups and items that are “difficult” for me to bag in zippered bags. I also use these containers if I think that it is an item that my husband (or in your case, children or self) might take to work or school and heat up. This makes it easier for them and for you because it doesn’t have to be repackaged. If you can get your family members and your cooking partner to return these to you, they are a very good option. Again, if using these types of containers you will want to leave 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch headspace for food expansion. I use disposable plastic containers most often for: soups, individual lunch items.

Throw-Away Foil Pans

I know this is not the most environmentally friendly method, but it is simple and easy on assembly and clean up. I also prefer these types of pans because they make it easy to take food to others in need. I don’t ever have to worry about getting my pans back. I typically put 8×8 pans or Deep Dish 8×8 pans on my recipe lists. I usually can find both at either the Dollar Store or Xmas Tree Shops. I have also used the Deep Dish 7×11 pans when I can’t find Deep Dish 8×8 pans. I recently found these great round pans at the Dollar Store that come with cardboard lids. They make for a fantastic OAMM pans because I don’t have to worry about covering the pan with foil or stacking my pans on top of one another. Some have indicated to me that they don’t like the cost of this method. I don’t understand that as I usually get three of them for $1. That seems pretty cheap to me considering that I am not using foil to line the pan or water (or my time) to clean the pans. However, I can find them cheap. If you do not live near one of these great discount stores you can consider ordering them in bulk. If you do once a month cooking (OAMC) often enough you will eventually use all of them up. When you have completed the dish I always cover the foil pan with a double layer of aluminum foil. This helps seal in the meal and prevent leaks as well as prevent freezer burn. If I have baked a bread or made an item in a loaf pan I will cover it with foil and occasionally also put it in a zippered freezer bag. This isn’t necessary but will only help keep freezer burn away. I write the instructions on top or stick on one of the handy-dandy OAMM labels. I use disposable foil pans for the following types of items: casseroles, dishes that I don’t want to have to thaw before placing in the oven, dishes that might end up going to a friend in need, breads.

Personal Bake Pans

There are many that use personal baking dishes. Some have enough to freeze all of their meals, others do not. I have heard of readers scouring garage sales and thrift stores to find pans that are the right size and reusable. You can freeze your dish in the dish that you are planning to use or you can line your pans with foil to freeze them. You just need to make sure that the pan you “formed” the meal to will be available when you are ready to cook your meal. If you are freezing food in glass baking pans just make sure that you slowly thaw out the dish and don’t place the frozen dish directly into the oven. You may end up with a shattered mess.

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