Best Containers for Freezer Cooking
Find the very best containers for freezer meal prep including ideas for both big family meals and individual servings. We've tested them all and these are the best!
There is nothing worse than packing your freezer with meals, produce, and snacks only to discover that it's been ruined by freezer burn. We've all been there. We search the freezer, finally find what we are looking for, and discover that the delicious meal we saved is covered in ice crystals and far from appetizing.
The best way to prevent this from happening is by choosing the right containers. Not only does this help you stay organized and save space, the right containers prevent air and moisture from getting into the food. These are the two main causes of freezer burn.
In this guide, we will not only share the very best containers, but we will also share the best strategies for making sure your food stays fresh and delicious. Plus we will include tips for freezing all kinds of foods from soups to burgers to burritos and fresh produce.
1. Containers for Large Freezer Meals
When it comes to large freezer meals, think of things like stews, slow cooker meals, and sauces, there are basically two options. The most common and best in terms of saving space are freezer bags. The second option is freezer safe containers. Let's look at each more closely.
Freezer bags (Disposable and Reusable)
This is my choice since they are the absolute best when it comes to space. They can be laid down flat when freezing and then stacked vertically or horizontally in the freezer. There is nothing better in terms of saving space. Depending on your needs, there are disposable and reusable options. After trying tons of options, these are my favorites:
- Disposable freezer bags: My number one choice for disposable bags is the Hefty Freezer Slider Bags. These bags are thick so I never worry about leaking or tearing. The zipper closer is so much easier to use and I haven't had any problems with them opening or leaking. They come in a gallon and quart size. I also like the Ziploc Double Zipper Freezer Bags.
- Reusable freezer bags: For a more sustainable option, reusable freezer bags are also a great option. Silicone bags are the best option in my opinion and after trying multiple brands, I find the Stasher bags are the easiest to use by far. They are easy to close, without the complicated plastic zippers that can be hard to remove and are easily lost. They are more expensive but they last forever and are dishwasher safe. Stasher has tons of different size options, but my favorite is this large stand up version.
- Meal Prep Bag Holders: If you are going to use a freezer bag, buy a pack of these bag clips that make it easy to stand up the storage bags. It will be the best $7 you ever spend. Using these makes it easy to stand up the bag so you can easily fill it. These are a must in my opinion and prevent so many messes.
If you prefer containers to freezer bags, there are a few good options out there. However, I always prefer bags since it is much easier to remove any extra air to prevent freezer burn. If you are freezing meals in containers, you want to make sure the container is full or use press and seal wrap to prevent air from touching the food.
- Glass containers: My preferred containers for freezing are glass since they do not soak up any of the smells or sauces in the food. Since they will be in the freezer, I like to use a leakproof glass container and these Glasslock containers are my favorites. They seal tight so they do not leak and this also helps keep the air out of the container. They are also microwave and oven safe, although you should always defrost the dish before placing it in the oven. Pyrex also makes a very nice glass set, but they are not leakproof.
- Plastic containers: For freezer cooking, I generally stay away from plastic containers since I find they tend to let in more air and also are more likely to get stained. However, they are more affordable and this set from Rubbermaid is one of the better options for plastic containers. They seal tightly and stain less than many of the other options on the market.
- Disposable containers: If you are preparing meals for friends or family and want to send something disposable, this option from Durahome works great. They are basically those plastic deli containers or for a larger size, I like these from Ziploc.
Tips for Freezing Large Meals
- Always let the food completely cool before adding it to the freezer. This step is critical since it cuts down on condensation, which causes freezer burn.
- Push out as much air as possible before freezing. This is easiest to do with freezer bags. If you don't use a bag, then make sure to fill the container completely or use press and seal wrap to create a barrier between the food and the air.
Favorite Large Meals to Freeze
Here are some of our favorite large family meals to freeze:
- Slow Cooker Chicken Taco Soup
- Ground Turkey Sloppy Joes
- Lentil Coconut Curry
- Slow Cooker Italian Red Pepper Chicken
- Slow Cooker Beef Machaca
2. Containers for Freezing Individual Portions
One of my favorite ways to make freezer meals is for quick lunches or easy dinners on a busy night. Having individual options ready to go means that anyone can simply grab one and throw it in the microwave for a quick and easy meal. For individual portions, I almost always am freezing pre-cooked meals that can be simply reheated in the microwave or a skillet.
When it comes to freezing individual portions of dishes, the options are similar to above - just smaller! Smaller storage bags or smaller containers are a great option for storing individual meals. All the brands recommended above also offer smaller options.
There are also a few specialized products that I love for freezing single portions.
- Souper Cubes: I absolutely LOVE these cubes for freezing individual portions. They are basically large silicone ice cube trays that come in lots of sizes. Freeze the individual portions and then either keep them in the easy to use silicone mold or pop them into a freezer bag. The portions pop out easily without sticking and they are dishwasher safe.
- Meal Prep Containers: If you are prepping a full meal instead of a single recipe, I also like these meal prep containers. My only complaint is that I find you the items inside will get freezer burn if you don't add an extra layer of press and seal wrap. Make sure to only add items that will heat up in the same amount of time.
Favorite Individual Recipes to Freeze
- Slow Cooker Black Bean Soup
- Chicken and Black Bean Enchiladas
- Greek Ground Turkey
- Asian Quinoa and Turkey Stir Fry
- Turkey Chili
3. How to Freeze Oddly Shaped Items
The last thing that you may want to freeze doesn't fit easily in a normal freezer storage bag or container. Think of things like meatballs, cookies, muffins, pancakes, burritos, and even things like enchiladas or baked pasta dishes. Follow these tips for freezing these oddly shaped items and see the best containers and wrapping options below.
- Dry pack method: For individual items like cookies, muffins, meatballs, pancakes, or even berries or fresh produce, you want to use the dry pack method. Start out by making everything is cooled to room temperature. Then place the items on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. This ensures they won't stick. Place them in the freezer for 1-3 hours until they are individually frozen. Then wrap up the individual portions and add them to a freezer safe storage bag or container.
- Freezer wrap and paper: For freezing larger items like bread, cakes, large cuts of meat, or individual items like burritos - you will want to wrap the item tightly to prevent freezer burn. As mentioned above, I am a huge fan of press and seal wrap. If not look for a freezer-grade plastic wrap. Normally plastic wrap is too thin to protect from freezer burn. If that's all you have, use a couple of layers followed by foil.
- Small items: For smaller items like fresh herbs, minced garlic, or sauces - consider freezing them in an ice cube tray. Garlic and herbs can be frozen with olive oil. Then just throw it in the pan before cooking.
Favorite Dry Pack Freezer Recipes
- Breakfast Burritos
- Freezer Quesadillas
- Breakfast Quesadillas
- Frozen Oatmeal Cups
- Greek Yogurt Pancakes
4. Freezer Organization
The last piece of the puzzle is keeping everything organized in the freezer. There are a few tips that can make this much easier.
- Always label all of the meals in the freezer including the recipe name, how to cook it, and the date it was stored. Then keep a list on the fridge of what's in the freezer, with the date, so you make sure it gets used in time.
- If you plan on prepping lots of freezer meals, consider investing in some plastic tubs to keep the freezer organized. Once the bags are frozen, they are be stored upright in a container. This saves so much space. You can also use magazine organizers for this.
- The best way to defrost a meal is overnight in the fridge. This is the safest method. Always try and remember to defrost the night before using, especially with meals that haven't been cooked yet.