Family health

13 food storage safety dos and don'ts

You’ve gone to the trouble of creating delicious, homemade dinners. Now let’s cool, freeze and reheat them properly to keep your family safe.

13 food storage safety dos and don'ts

Photo: iStockphoto

You prepped so many awesome meals for the freezer. Now, pay attention to these food safety hacks to make all that hard work worth it.

Don't leave prepared foods at room temperature longer than two hours.

Don't place hot foods directly in the fridge—this can raise the temperature of the foods around it, increasing the risk of microbial growth.

Do cool foods down by immersing the pot in an ice bath. Fill the sink with cold water and ice until the water comes halfway up the side of the pot. Stir the food frequently until cool and then refrigerate or freeze.

Do divide food into smaller containers to cool it faster.

Do divide food into smaller portions (enough for one meal for your family) to freeze.

Do use zip-top freezer bags to store cooled chili, stew and soup. They save freezer space and make thawing a snap because of the increased surface area. Lay bags flat in the freezer—a baking sheet helps create an even surface.

Do squeeze excess air out of freezer bags before sealing them to avoid dreaded freezer burn.


Don't forget to label and date each bag or container. You think you’ll remember what is in your freezer, but two months from now you won’t!

Do thaw foods safely by transferring to the fridge for 24 hours, by soaking a well-sealed freezer bag in a sink of cool water (change the water several times) or by placing the freezer bag in a bowl and microwaving on the defrost setting.

Do add your frozen meals to your meal plan so they actually make it to your table.

Do enjoy your homemade frozen dinners within three months.

Do reheat in a saucepan by adding a couple of tablespoons of water to loosen your leftovers. Stir in fresh herbs and a squeeze of lemon juice to help brighten flavours.


Don't re-freeze the leftovers of these frozen dinners.

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