The Best Make-Ahead Foods to Freeze

Ground Turkey

With only 169 calories in a 4-oz. serving and less than 10 g of fat, ground turkey is a healthy and versatile food that works well in many freeze ahead dishes. Freeze a batch of turkey meatballs that will be ready when you are. Toss them in a pot of spaghetti sauce, serve them as a snack or appetizer with a dipping sauce or toss them into broth for a light and healthy lunch. Use ground turkey and kidney beans to make turkey chili. One serving contains only 271 calories and 11 g of fat, and will keep in your freezer for up to three months.

Soups

Use leftover poultry or meat bones or shellfish shells to create a flavorful broth that can be used as the basis for a filling soup. Canned broths tend to be high in sodium, but when you create your own, you can control the amount of fat and sodium in the final product. A 1-cup serving of canned low-sodium chicken broth contains only 17 calories, but its sodium content of 554 mg provides 23 percent of the recommended daily intake of sodium. Many make-ahead foods to freeze use broth as their basis, so keep plenty of it in the freezer for future use.

Allow cooked broth to cool and freeze in an airtight container for up to three months. Be sure to leave some headspace in the container, as the soup will expand when frozen. Avoid freezing soups containing dairy products, pasta, rice or fresh vegetables. Instead, defrost the broth and add those ingredients before serving. Try freezing a batch of hearty minestrone, roasted red pepper or roasted corn soup.

Try freezing soup or broth in ice cube trays. Remove from the trays when frozen and place in resealable plastic bags. That way you can defrost just the amount that you need when you need it.

Cakes and Cookies

Most cookies and many types of cakes and cupcakes hold up well in the freezer. Place cookies in an airtight container before freezing. Wrap unfrosted cakes and cupcakes in plastic wrap and then aluminum foil to be sure no moisture or air can reach the cake. Allow to come to room temperature before frosting. The denser the cake, the better it will freeze. Avoid freezing very light cakes like sponge or angel food. Despite the dairy content, cheesecakes also hold up well in the freezer for several weeks.

Keep the sugar content low in your homemade cakes and cookies by using sugar substitutes, agave nectar or honey instead of white sugar. Applesauce or yogurt can often provide the batter or dough with fats instead of using unhealthy oils.

Berries

Freezing berries is a great way to ensure a supply of fresh fruit through the winter, as berries hold up well to the freezing process. Start with freshly picked blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, raspberries, gooseberries or the berries of your choice. Place the berries in a colander and rinse well, except for blueberries which should be rinsed after you have defrosted them. Let the berries dry and spread them out on a rimmed baking sheet. Set them on a shelf in your freezer until all of the berries are frozen through. Remove them from the baking sheet, and place in resealable plastic bags with excess air removed or airtight containers before placing back in the freezer.

Thaw the berries overnight in the refrigerator or in a bowl of cold water for a few hours. Use them in pancakes, pies or in a healthy fruit salad.

References

About.com Calorie Count: Ground Turkey

Peer Trainer: Turkey Chili

Make Ahead Meals: Soups

PickYourOwn.org: How to Freeze Berries