How to Prepare Freezer Meals, Top Tips for Freezing Food: Tribute To My Grandma Frizti

Freezer Meals

This is an update to a older post that I first wrote in 2008 and it was a fun tour with my then 87 year-old grandma Fritzi Telpner. I am updating and sharing it with you today in honour of my grandma who passed away last Tuesday at the incredible age of 98. Over the last week, as a family, we have been sharing stories and memories of my grandma, and something that cannot be ignored was her passion for a full stocked freezer at all times.

My dad said that, as a kid, he used to come home from school to the delicious aroma of freshly-baked chocolate cake, only to find that it had already been wrapped up and stuck in the freezer for a future special occasion.

I am not far behind!

I’ll make big batches of soup, sauces, entrees and cookies and keep some to eat fresh and freeze the rest for later. The stocked freezer I have in my basement is a testament to what my grandma taught me. The first thing she’d say when you walked through her door was “What can I fix you?”. And you kind of had to wonder if whatever she was ready to put in the oven had just come out of the freezer.

Back in 2008, when I had just started this blog, I had gone to visit my grandma and, always put together and graceful, she offered us a tour of the building’s “freezer room”. These women lived through the depression, through wars, through several children and they learned to be prepared at all times. When they moved into the building from their homes, they all brought their secondary freezers with them, which stay in a single room affectionately referred to as “The Freezer Room.”

Enjoy this video from the archives as my grandma Fritzi Telpner tours us through her “Freezer Room”.

YouTube video

While I don’t have a ‘freezer room’, I have learned a thing or two about creating the best freezer meals and freezing ingredients for optimal health and culinary deliciousness.

How to create awesome freezer meals

1. Pick the Right Recipe

Some recipes simply don’t stand up to freezing and defrosting. Delicate pastries, structured foods, or creamy sauces that will likely separate are not freezer candidates. Generally, hearty soups, stews, muffins, cookies, granola bars, cooked grains, cooked beans and legumes, casseroles, burgers, gluten-free lasagna or dairy-free mac and cheese make great freezer meals.

2. Don’t Overcook

Remember that once you defrost a meal, you’ll be heating it up again, so it’s important not to overcook the first time around. If you’re not planning on eating a meal before you pop it in the freezer, leave it a little ‘al dente’ so when you reheat the taste and texture will be perfect.

For foods like lasagna or casseroles, don’t bake the dish after assembly. Freeze raw and then you can cook fresh when you’re ready. Seal the prepped dish in a freezer and oven safe dish.

For burgers or patties, either cook straight away and freeze prepped, or freeze them on a parchment lined baking sheet, and once frozen, transfer to a container or freezer bag to fry or bake later.

3. Let Your Freezer Meals Cool Completely Before Freezing

Hot meals will raise the temperature of your freezer and begin to defrost other things in there, causing the nasty freezer burn icicle build-up. Not good! Instead, leave your freezer meals on the counter until completely cool, or wait until they are lukewarm, transfer them to the fridge and then freeze.

4. Use Freezer-Safe Storage

I prefer to freeze most things in glass containers. Use tempered glass if possible, as sometimes regular glass can shatter after things shift and expand in the freezing process. If glass isn’t an option, plastic bags can work too – but plastic has a number of health and environmental impacts and there are many other ways to store food without it. For foods that might stick together, like cookies, bars, burger patties or muffins, layer them in parchment paper and then enclose in glass.

If you are freezing liquids like soup, bone broth or almond milk, leave an inch or two of headspace at the top of your container to allow for expansion. Nobody wants a jar of soup to explode!

5. Label Your Freezer Meals

You might think you’ll remember which jar contains that homemade BBQ sauce. Trust me, in two months you won’t. Get out your masking tape and a marker or pen. Label the jar contents and the date.

6. Defrost + Reheat Properly

For plant-based meals, you can defrost them on your counter or in the fridge. With freezer meals that contain animal products, I like to defrost in the fridge as much as possible, just to ensure no bacteria develop while the meal sits on the counter.

No matter what you’re eating, reheat your food in a pot on the stove or in the oven. No microwaves please.

7. Share The Freezer Meals!

Everyone loves a good freezer meal to have on hand for those days when we just don’t feel like cooking. Parents, students, busy people, whoever you love – freezer meals make great gifts!

Quick Tips For Awesome Freezer Meals

  • Fruits and vegetables with a high water content typically don’t freeze well. Celery, cucumber, canteloupe, honeydew, watermelon and most lettuces defrost limp and unappetizing.
  • Lay your fruits and vegetables on a parchment-lined baking sheet in one layer. Once frozen, you can transfer them into a container and they won’t stick together.
  • Freezer meals don’t last in the freezer indefinitely. I don’t like to leave things in there longer than three months, but you can also follow this guide to freezer storage for more specific times. If something is freezer burned and looks gross, you’re not going to eat it. So let it go.
  • Freeze large recipes into single or double servings so you can take them out as you need them for a quick meal, rather than having to defrost the whole thing.
  • If you didn’t enjoy last night’s dinner, don’t stick it in the freezer. It’s not going to taste better in two months.
  • Freeze ingredients when they are at the peak of freshness so you can maintain the flavour and nutrient quality for months to come.

How to Create Awesome Freezer Meals

Freezer Meal Recipe Inspiration


  1. I love your website and use many of your recipes. I’ve taken a safe food handling course from the local health unit. I noticed that tip # 3 for freezing food, which has just been cooked, says to let the item cool on the counter before freezing.
    The best path to freezing hot food, is a rapid chilling process to cool the food before freezing eg. Using a sink of ice water to cool a pot of hot soup. Please contact your health unit website for the exact information on food temp safety parameters for: cooking, holding, chilling and freezing food.
    Thanks so much and best wishes

  2. I am a french Canadian living close to Ottawa. I wanted to tell you that you inspire me very much and decided that you are my cooking guru. Just watched the video with you grandmother and fell in love with her also. Hope you are feeling good! Bonne journée. Natalie Laurin

  3. Love this post. It’s so thorough! And reminds us that fresh food or fresh frozen food and family (or any loving relationship) are the foundation for a healthy body and mind.

  4. I find your suggestions regarding prior prepation ,cooking, and storage to be insightful. I am the process of changing my lifestyle, ie. better food choices. Your tips I will use on my “better food” journey.

  5. Great Tips! Thank you.
    Sending thoughts to your and your family.
    A small tip of my own: If you use containers with locking hard plastic lids, you can write the container contents on the lid itself with a sharpie marker. It will buff off with a tiny scrap of paper towel afterward.

  6. If the only way to cook a freezer meal involves the oven, what can I use my microwave for?

  7. Omg – I just LOVE this video!!! My parents and in-laws have always had an extra freezer (or two)! Preserving this memory of the two of you is so sweet. Gefilte fish and knishes, of course!!! Rest In Peace Grandma Fritzi. xo

  8. Oh goodness that video is so sweet. The freezer with the locks on it!! Too funny. I bet you have loads of fond memories with your grandma. May she rest easy.

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