Mom cooking ahead for the holidaysWe love the holidays—or at least we’re supposed to. Often we’re so caught up in the spin cycle of shopping, cooking, and entertaining that we’re too busy to enjoy what’s going on. 

But what if we had an assortment of delicious homemade foods stored in the freezer that we could reheat and serve to family and friends at a moment’s notice? Maybe we’d throw an impromptu cocktail party on a snowy evening, invite over the neighbors, sip wine, and nibble on delicious hors d’oeuvres. Or maybe we’d host a Chanukah party and enjoy crispy potato latkes without having to clean up a grease-splattered mess. Good food—vital to life and a happy complement to social occasions—needn’t add stress to your life. Take last-minute preparations off your plate and cook some special dishes before the holidays are in full swing. 

Cook-and-Freeze Strategies

Decide what would be most useful. If you like to host a big holiday brunch, find a few quiches, breads, and muffins to have on standby. If you throw an annual cocktail party, maybe some mini quiches, filo spinach bites, or mini spring rolls are what you need most. Or, if you’re planning a large sit-down dinner, maybe you need a hearty soup for first course, or some pies for dessert. 

1. Make it happen

Early on the calendar this month, set aside a few hours or even a whole day to cook or bake. Invite someone to join you and you’ll accomplish two things at once: cooking good food and catching up with a friend or family member. You may even find that baking or cooking together can start a new tradition and add a whole new level of meaning to your holidays.

2. Freeze properly

As long as you know how to freeze food correctly, it will taste delicious and won’t lose any flavor. Here are some simple steps to follow:

  • Cool. After you cook your food, drain excess fats and cool ever-so-slightly. For lightly fried foods, such as crab cakes, cool only 2–4 minutes. For chicken dishes, soups, or stews, cool 10–20 minutes.
  • Fresh freeze. Place food in the freezer, uncovered, for a short period of time (20 minutes or so) until food has completely cooled and has begun to harden. Once cooled, transfer your food to freezer-safe containers or zip-top storage bags. 
  • Seal out air. Working quickly so food does not begin to thaw or does not get exposed to excess air, squeeze out the air from the freezer bags or, if using a container, cover with a tight-fitting lid.
  • Double protect. Wrap containers a few times with plastic wrap for extra protection. Or, if using zip-top bags, place one bag in another bag. 
  • Reheat. To reheat, make sure food does not defrost first; cook it while frozen, straight from your freezer. If you’re re-heating something crispy, make sure you do so in a preheated (400°) oven.

Alison J. Bermack, from Upper Montclair, NJ, is a food writer, award-winning blogger, and founder of, celebrating food and friends. She has three children.