Cooking and freezing premade family meals safely: Part 1

Use these food safety tips to make meals to freeze and enjoy later.

Cooking and freezing “premade” meals for your family can save you time in the kitchen and save you money if you’re in the habit of buying frozen convenient meals, or food from delis and fast food restaurants.

Preparing and freezing premade meals for your family can also be a healthier alternative to fast food or processed frozen meals found in grocery stores. If prepping meals ahead of time is appealing to you, Michigan State University Extension encourages you to follow food safety procedures when shopping, preparing and freezing your pre-made meals.

Food shopping

  • Have a shopping list, which includes all the food, ingredients and other supplies which you will need to cook and freeze your pre-made meals.
  • Have on hand a cooler or insulated bag with ice packs to store your perishable food until you get home to put them in the refrigerator or freezer. This will keep refrigerated and frozen foods from reaching unsafe temperatures in which harmful bacteria could grow.

Check your expiration dates

  • To ensure that you are buying fresh food that has not reached its expiration date, look at the product’s "Sell-By" or "Use-By" or other expiration dates. Always buy food within their expiration date.
  • Never choose meat or poultry in packaging that is torn or leaking. This could be a sign of contamination or spoiled food.

Cook meats and casseroles to safe minimal temperatures using a food thermometer

  • Cook all raw beef, pork, lamb and veal steaks, chops and roasts to a minimum internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Cook all raw ground meat to an internal temperature of 160 degrees F.
  • Cook all poultry to an internal temperature of 165 degrees F.
  • Cook all casseroles to an internal temperature of 165 degrees F.

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