How to pack: five top tips
If you do nothing else when it comes to packaging your goods for storage, follow these golden rules:
- Store things separately
- Choose a suitable container
- Minimise exposure to air
- Package in portion sizes
- Date and label everything
1. Store things separately
Foods defrost and reheat at different temperatures and times so for the best results try to store meal components separately. This reduces the chances of your meal being crusty around the edges and still frozen in the middle.
It also gives you greater flexibility – you can mix and match your main with rice, pasta, couscous, salad or potato depending how you feel on the night. If you have a small freezer, focus on storing main dishes –as long as you have a couple of serves of rice or pasta you'll always have the makings of a meal on hand.
2. Choose a suitable container
Pick a size and style that matches the intended use, the contents and any space constraints you may have. For example:
- If you like soup for lunch, buy some microwave safe screw-top containers
- If you like salads, larger square containers work well
- For dips or dressings use tiny little containers
- If you like to bake, buy some larger airtight containers to store your pre-wrapped goodies in the pantry or freezer
- If you have limited cupboard space, buy a collection of the same brand, size and shape so they stack easily
- If you have limited freezer space, use freezer and zip-lock bags when possible.
There are a million containers out there but one of the cheapest and most convenient is the good old take-away container – it's microwave safe, comes in a range of sizes and you can buy them in the supermarket or start a collection next time you buy takeaway!
For more information visit packaging techniques.
3. Minimise exposure to air
To maintain freshness and prevent freezer burn, pack your food as airtight as possible. * store in an appropriate sized airtight container; or * squeeze as much air from the bag as possible before sealing.
Refer to our packaging techniques for more detail.
4. Package in portion sizes
When packaging to freeze, stick to single or double portions. Defrosting and reheating instructions are provided for single serves, so if you're working with double portions you'll need to make some adjustments.
Due to the time it takes to defrost and reheat, freezing in larger quantities is not recommended. Instead store them in your fridge.
5. Date and label everything
Always date, label and seal your food properly before freezing. That way you can make sure you rotate through everything in a reasonable time frame. Computer-friendly office labels work well on plastic containers and a permanent marker is perfect for bags.