Updated October 30th, 2018 – “Waste not, want not!” When it comes to food, some may frown upon thawed and reheated meals. If done correctly, however, it’s not only safe and delicious, it’s also a heck of a lot better than throwing out food you spent the time and effort to make.
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Most people, myself included, make a little more than they need to, just in case. If the thought of eating the same thing three days in a row sends you running for the nearest fast food joint, you might want to consider storing your leftovers in the freezer, to be enjoyed at a later date.
Containers for the Freezer
Pans with plastic lids, plastic containers, or glass jars are certainly a more affordable alternative and are many people’s go-to solution. They are convenient, everyone has them, and they can sometimes even be used to reheat their contents. Glass jars should ideally be tempered to avoid cracking, and you should cool their contents in the fridge before freezing. It’s vital to leave some headspace before sealing to allow for expansion. Learn more about the best containers for the freezer here.
Aluminum pans and foil can be quite effective, too. They are both inexpensive and very handy when you need to deliver a frozen meal to a friend’s house. Plus, you don’t have to worry about asking for these containers back! If they are too stained to clean, they can just be thrown in the recycling bin.
The best way to use foil is to freeze the food in an oiled pan beforehand, then slide it onto a double layer of the best foil you have (shiny-side-out). Wrap it firm enough to expel any excess air, but not so hard that the foil splits.
A vacuum sealer is an excellent way to avoid freezer burn, owing to the fact that it removes the air and moisture surrounding the food. They can be a bit pricey though, so if you don’t do a lot of freezing or sous vide cooking, they may not be worth the outlay. Zip top freezer bags are simpler to use and also do a great job.
Wrap it Up!
Plastic wrap is perhaps one of the easiest and most convenient freezing options. Despite reports in the media that it can cause prostate cancer, this has been shown to be untrue. Saran is as good as any plastic wrap on the market and can be found in nearly any store across the country, as well as many online retailers.
Saran Premium Plastic Wrap
Saran has recently changed its formula to be chlorine free and to offer the extra elasticity needed to enclose just about anything you need to store in the freezer.
Saran’s Premium Plastic Wrap is slightly thicker than their other plastic wraps and offers more protection for your foods. This also makes it easier to handle and less likely to tear. Some have stated they find it doesn’t cling as well as the Saran Wrap Cling Plus.
This plastic wrap is both freezer and microwave safe.
Saran Cling Plus
As the name implies, this version of saran wrap clings the best. It also comes at a better value per square foot than the premium version. Some have complained it’s not as easy to handle as the Premium Wrap, but it tends to cling better (which is sometimes the problem if you’re not careful in handling it).
Like the Premium version, this plastic wrap is microwave and freezer safe.
There are other options if you are looking for something different. Check out Glad’s plastic wrap with Press’n Seal technology, it’s BPA free, unlike Saran Wrap.
Glad Press’n Seal Plastic Food Wrap
Check out Glad Press’n Seal Plastic Food Wrap at Amazon
Glad’s plastic wrap is both microwave and freezer safe, as well as BPA free. You get less per roll, but the value per square foot isn’t much different from the Saran Wrap. Glad’s Gripex technology helps the wrap stick to more than just itself, it adheres to glass, plastic, wood, and food.
Reynolds KITCHENS Quick Cut Plastic Wrap
Check out the Reynolds KITCHENS Quick Cut Plastic Wrap at Amazon
Reynolds is known better for their aluminum foil, but they make a great plastic wrap too. This roll comes with a Starter Edge tab, making it easy to find the edge of the plastic wrap every time, and a specialized cutter to provide a clean cut and minimize the tangling and waste. The wrap itself is BPA free, microwave and freezer safe.
Tips and Tricks
Plastic wrap is best used with acidic foods. It’s always a good idea to ensure a clean contact between the surface of any food and the first layer of the plastic—this is especially important when freezing meat.
You can create your own vacuum-style wrap with a little practice. Place the meat on a generous length of Saran and, after folding one layer over the top, press down hard, flip forwards, and turn the edges back on themselves. The idea is to expel as much air and moisture as possible. Don’t be shy! If you get a little heavy-handed, you will only do a little inadvertent tenderizing.
How long will frozen blueberries last? Find out here!
Just be careful that the plastic does not rip. While it may not be too bad for a short-term freeze of a week or two, a three-month freeze with exposed foods will result in freezer burn, thus making the whole endeavor not worth the effort. If in doubt, wrap and rewrap! This is not the most expensive item in your culinary arsenal so, when it comes to the plastic wrap, I think “more is more.”
Date your frozen foods! Marking the food before it goes into the freezer is as important as the way it’s wrapped up. If you don’t know exactly what it is or for how long it has been frozen, there is a very good chance that it will stay there for too long and eventually be thrown out anyway.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is plastic wrap microwave safe?
The plastic wraps listed here are microwave safe! Not all plastic wraps are though, so make sure you read the label and only microwave if the label states it is safe to do so.
When you microwave something in plastic wrap make sure the wrap isn’t directly touching the food, or the high temperature of the food may cause it to melt. When it says microwave safe, it means if the container is covered with plastic wrap, it safe.
Also, make sure to vent the dish to let the steam out. If you don’t the pressure could build up inside the dish.
Will my food get freezer burnt?
If you wrap your food correctly, it shouldn’t get freezer burnt.
Make sure to get as much air out of the wrapping as possible. The air traps in extra moisture, which is what condensates and leads to freezer burn. See the above Tips and Tricks section to see how best to wrap your food to prevent freezer burn.
Is it BPA-free?
Saran Wrap is NOT BPA-free. Though they have been making strides to use fewer chemicals in their products, such as removing chlorine, they have yet to make a BPA-free plastic wrap.
I am glad to say GLAD’s plastic wrap is BPA-free, and so is Reynolds.
Most BPA-free plastics are labeled as such, so when you are looking for a new plastic wrap look for one that clearly states it is BPA-free. If it doesn’t state it, that means it probably does contain BPA.
Is it durable?
These wraps are all made of different plastics and formulas, so they have different durabilities.
Of the Saran versions, the Premium more durable than the Cling Plus version, which is what makes it Premium.
According to reviews, the Reynolds plastic wrap is thick enough to handle without easy tearing but thin enough to stretch over dishes. The Glad wrap is so durable one user even used it while moving to hold drawers in place on a dresser.
Is it easy to use?
Plastic wrap is pretty easy to use, but there are some issues you may run into which can get frustrating, the most common being cutting the plastic wrap.
To eliminate this, the Reynolds plastic wrap is the best option. The side cutter easily cuts the plastic wrap without you having to pull it against the metal teeth the other boxes have. It’s a little slower, but worth it when you don’t have to untangle the plastic wrap from itself.
With a simple box of Saran wrap, you’ll have everything you need to store that Thanksgiving turkey or BBQ leftovers for tomorrow’s lunch!
But enough about cold… What about hot? Here are the best thermoses for hot food.
Know someone who works construction? Let them know about these lunchboxes I found. Perfect for the job site!