Freezer Meal Containers

by Deborah Taylor-Hough

So, you’re ready to give cooking for the freezer a try.  Great!  But what on earth do you store all this good food in? You certainly don’t want to have your food suffer from a bad case of freezer burn … and you also don’t want to break your budget stocking up on expensive freezer boxes. Oh, what’s a Freezer Mama to do? 

I want to assure you that you don’t need to hold a party and buy expensive plastic boxes. Any food grade plastic will work. The inexpensive plastic boxes at the grocery store function just fine, but make sure you have storage items with tight fitting, air-tight lids.
 
If you want to invest money in the higher quality plastic boxes, by all means feel free. You definitely get what you pay for, and the fancy expensive home party boxes usually last for many years and come  with replacement guarantees. I just want to assure people that you don’t have to stock your freezer shelves with designer containers. The only plastic freezer containers I owned for many years were just the inexpensive ones from the grocery store, and they served me well for many years.
 

You can also use disposable aluminum foil pans purchased at the grocery store. These can often be reused several times before needing to be recycled or disposed. Disposable pans are ideal if you’re making meals to use to give to others; the recipient doesn’t need to worry about returning your pan or casserole dish. If clean up is a huge time-consumer, these pans be easily thrown away to make cleanup painless.

You can freeze food items in clean, plastic margarine containers if that’s all you have, but the seal isn’t really air-tight so don’t freeze these items for longer than two weeks or the quality of the food will suffer. It’s important to remember that margarine containers are safe to freeze food in (they’re made of food grade plastic), but don’t reheat your meal in them. They’re not microwave-able, and they can seep harmful chemicals into your family’s food. Be sure that a plastic container is labeled “microwave safe” before using it to reheat food.
 
 I’ve built up a good supply of freezer containers by stocking up on bakeware and other freeze-able containers at garage sales and thrift stores. Glass bakeware works fine. When wrapping pans for the freezer, be sure to use good quality, heavy-duty freezer foil. 
 
I personally use zip-top freezer bags for most of my freezer-meal storage needs. Not only do they take up less space than boxes, the bags are inexpensive and easy to use. It’s important to buy top quality freezer bags — this isn’t the place to cut back, money-wise. There’s nothing worse for a freezer-meal cook than to have your entire batch of frozen meals ruined by poor wrapping or freezer bags breaking. I recommend double bagging anything that has a soupy consistency so you don’t end up with a watery mess at the bottom of your refrigerator after the meal thaws. Sometimes bags can develop small holes, or the zip-top can open slightly.

You can also make your own freezer pans by lining a casserole dish with foil. Put the food in on top of the foil, freeze the meal until it’s solid, and then remove the foil and food from the pan. Finish wrapping the meal and put it back in the freezer. When it’s time to serve the meal, simply place the foil wrapped meal back into the original pan that was used to mold the frozen meal. Thaw and reheat in the original pan. This method keeps your pans available for other uses during the month.

If you have a choice between round and rectangular freezer containers, choose rectangular. These use space more efficiently and take up less room in the freezer.  

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10 responses to “Freezer Meal Containers

  1. Hi. Thanks for the article about freezer containers, “Simple Mom”. I have one comment. Some time ago I stopped using freezer boxes and went to plastic bags but in this day and age of “going green” I have decided to go back to boxes which can be reused. I wash plastic bags and reuse them when I can but in the interest of time this is not a good way to go. Thanks for the article.

  2. “I recommend double bagging anything that has a soupy consistency so you don’t end up with a watery mess at the bottom of your refrigerator after the meal thaws”

    Hi :) When I was doing a lot of freezing meals, I used to use plastic containers to freeze stews and soups into blocks, then once fully frozen, I’d tip them out, wrap in foil and a plastic bag and store in the freezer, the container would go back in the cupboard. When I needed to defrost the meal, I’d unwrap it while frozen and slide it back into the container for defrosting. Hope that idea helps someone! Ciao!

  3. I am searching for alternatives to plastic for the freezer. I am worried about leaching and also the toll on the environment from using so many plastic bags.

    I’m looking into aluminum containers with paper lids, like the old-fashioned “take-out” containers at Italian restaurants!

    Anyone have suggestions?

    • E.K. Sommer, if you’re concerned about the environment aluminum foil containers are much worse than the plastic bags unless you’re washing and recycling the aluminum when you’re done. Better to use Gallon sized zip-loc bags then turn them inside out and put them in the top rack of your dishwasher to clean them for re-use.

    • Also, be aware that standard aluminum foil and cheap pans will leach aluminum into acidic foods, like tomato sauce, most soups, etc.

    • E.K. Sommer,

      If you have a Dollar Store you might be able to pick them up there or I think I may have seen them at Sam’s Club. I hope that helps. :)

  4. Thanks for you tip about using foil and a casserole dish, I have been using large yogurt containers to freeze soups or anything else liquidy, but I don,t use these containers to heat or defrost them in. Thanks for an interesting article.

  5. I like the idea of buying up glass and metal containers at garage sales, but my problem is storage. Anyone have any tips on making storage less of a hassle? In a perfect world I’d be filling the containers as I empty them, but my world’s far from perfect. :P

  6. Nice post simple mom. I agree with you, buying high quality freezer container is an investment. There are also inexpensive containers which serve the same. I just had one from http://www.freezer-containers.net, a Dora 21oz. EZ-Freeze Food Container w/ Gel Lid for only $3.99. My little princess love it.

  7. ooops! i got the Dora 21oz. EZ-Freeze Food Container w/ Gel Lid for only $3.99 at http://www.freezer-containers.com. :)

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