I am thinking about trying to save time in the kitchen by cooking 2 or 3 meals at a time and freezing them for later in the week. What is the best thing to freeze spaghetti in? Should I invest in the expensive freezer bags or can I use the freezer bags at the Dollar store?
You can use the Dollar store brand storage bags. I do all the time, good luck.
I always buy the dollar store bags, I've only had problems twice one time none of the bags in the box were sealed on the bottom so everything fell straight through and another time 1 of the boxes all the bags had a slit down the 1 side.
I have found that the dollar store Freezer Bags may not hold liquids that well, I put broth in them and went back in a week the dollar store freezer bags had leaks' , I learned my lesson, I freeze in and containers pop them out and then put them in the bag to eliminate that problem
If you want to save money as well as time, don't use freezer bags. Instead get the reusable freezer containers (very much like rubbermade). They last for years.
I always buy the store brand or the Family Dollar brand frezer bags, and they work just as good as Ziplock!
I don't use store brands because I found they don't keep food as fresh as I like especially the sandwich size. I don't use plastic containers any more because I have done research on the safety of them and I found they are really not safe.
I always buy the dollar store and store brand bags as well! A little trick I learned: after putting the food in the bag, zip it almost all the way up. Put a straw in the opening, and suck out the air. Then quickly pull out the straw and zip it up. No need to buy an expensive machine to get the air out, just a cheap old straw will do the trick! Try it!
I use the dollar store bags for things that will be used within a month. For longer storage I invest in better bags. For liquids like soups and sauces, I use reusable square plastic containers that stack well in the freezer.
I use a combination of dollar store and Ziplock Vacuum Seal bags.
For dry things I do like Dellajo said with the straw trick. But with liquids (like spaghetti) that's harder to do.
Anyway I put one meal size serving in each dollar store bag and zip it up tight. Then I get a gallon size Ziplock Vacuum seal bag and put as many of the dollar store bags in each that I can fit. Secret to keeping them from sticking together when they freeze is to put 2 squares of paper towels between each. Then I zip of the Ziplock back and vacuum all the air out. This method keeps things for months with no problem.
I don't use the freezer containers because there's no way to prevent freezer burn on the food in them. Especially if there's even a little bit of air space in them.
The Dollar Stores are ok for cards, books, things which you don't eat, put on your skin, use for personal hygiene. I have no idea what is in the plastic bags which is in contact with your food. Also never microwave using plastic containers, plastic wrap, as the chemicals used to make these products breaks down and leaches out. Bad enough we don't know what's in a lot of our food. Why add more?
I've used the Dollar Store baggies for sandwich size only--no problem with them for brown bagging, but not thrilled with the freezer size. They're thinner and don't hold up ( saw freezer burn creep in).
For me, you get what you pay for in freezer bags. I plunk down the extra couple of cents for Ziplok freezer bags because the food quality stays the same. I'm not saving anything if the bags are cheaper but the food isn't protected right--that kills not only the taste but the nutritional value and overall, you're losing money.
I have used both brand and dollar brands. None work as well as I would like. I am asking the family for a 'seal a meal' type device for Christmas. A friend has one, and it has saved her a lot of food, much more than the cost of the machine and the bags that go with it.
I personally think that Dollar Store freezer bags are thinner than name brand such as ziplock. But I have found that Walmart's Great Value brand storage and freezer bags work just as well as name brands.
Don't use freezer bags from the dollar store. I recommend the Great Value bags or if you have extra $ purchase the Ziploc freezer bags. Also, freeze the bag when its lying flat so you'll have more room for storage. It also helps it thaw faster.
I use dollar store freezer bags for the same purpose all the time. They work just fine. I agree that they're not as thick as name brand, but if you're only freezing stuff for a short period (such as later in the week) they're great. I also use them for storage of dried fruits and veggies from my gardens and orchard. I just plain don't see paying more for something that less expensive works just fine for.
I tend to just forget the bags, and reuse plastic bowls that came with things like margarine, whipped topping, potato salad, etc. That's just me, though; I rarely have so much in my freezer that I have space problems.
Regarding food safety, I don't know that there's any assurance that plastic bags are safer than plastic containers or vice versa; that's why I'm trying to switch to glass. But the plastic is just so darned convenient, and inexpensive too!
I use square freezer containers for liquids and bags for other things, and I lay the bags on a flat surface like a cookie sheet until they're frozen solid. I find that no matter what I do, the bags plump up with air in storage - I don't know if air is leaking in, or escaping from the food. So for extra protection, I may wrap the food in Press & Seal wrap for long term storage or just plastic wrap or sandwich baggies for short term storage, and then slip them into a larger, freezer-quality bag.
For long term freezer storage the heavy duty freezer bags are definitely worth the additional money. I buy bulk meats when they are on sale and divide them into 1 meal portions and freeze them. A trick for avoiding freezer burn is to fill a stock pot with warm water. Once your freezer bag is full zip the top closed except for about 1 inch.
Slowly lower the bag into the pot of warm water and all the air is pushed out. When it is submerged to the top of the bag, but not allowing any water into the bag, finish zipping the bag tightly closed and lay it on a towel to dry it. Freeze it flat on cookie sheets with at least 1" airspace around each bag. You bags will be vacuum packed without the vacuum machine.
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I save the waxed liner that dry cereal comes in. I wash it really well and then let it air dry. Then I use it as a large freezer bag. It's free, so don't waste it by throwing it away.