Freezing Food

The Food Standards Agency is promoting a range of messages to help people freeze and defrost to have a less stressful and wasteful Christmas.

Every year we throw away seven million tonnes of food and drink from our homes. Much of this waste is unnecessary, and a better understanding of how to freeze food safely could go a significant way towards tackling the problem. 

Top freezer tips

  • Freeze up to the use by date - Freezing acts as a pause button and you can freeze pretty much everything. This includes meats and meals cooked from previously cooked and frozen meats. 
  • Plan portion sizes - Before you plan your Christmas meals, think about how many people you'll be cooking for and how big the portion sizes should be.
  • Separate raw foods when shopping - When you do your Christmas food shopping remember to take at least two bags with you so that you can separate raw and ready-to-eat foods to avoid cross-contamination.
  • Cook in advance and freeze - You can get most of your Christmas cooking done weeks in advance by storing cooked foods in the freezer it's best to place food in an air tight container or wrap it well in freezer bags, freezer wrap or cling film before freezing it, to stop the cold air from drying it out.
  • Lable food in the freezer - It's a good idea to date and label any foods that go into the freezer so you what it is and how long it has bene in there. 

Preparing your turkey

Cooking in advance

Cooking your turkey in advance could save you getting stressed out on the day. Once your turkey is cooked and cooled, slice and then batch it into portions to store in the freezer. you can then take out what you need and when you need it.

Cooking time

Make sure you allow time for your turkey to be cooked thoroughly. There should be no pink meat in the thickest parts and it should be steaming hot. You can use a pop-up cooking thermometer. This should be placed in the thickest part of the turkey from the start. You'll know your turkey is cooked when the thermometer 'pops' and has reached the correct temperature. 

Cooking from frozen

You must check the guidance well in advance to defrost your turkey according to it's size. Always defrost your frozen turkey fully before cooking as partially defrosted turkey may not cook evenly, meaning harmful bacteria could survive in the cooking process.

Defrosting time

Always follow defrosting instructions on the packaging. If there aren't any follow the times below to work out roughly how long it would take to thaw your turkey.

  • In a fridge at 4°C (39°F), allow around 10-12 hours per kg, but remember that not all fridges will be this temperature.
  • In a cool room (below 17.5°C, 64°F), allow approximately 3-4 hours per kg, or longer if the room is particularly cold.

For more information visit Freezer Fairy

Love your leftovers

To make your festive food go further:

  • If you've got any leftovers you should cool  them, then cover and ensure that they go in the fridge/freezer within 1-2 hours. 
  • You can freeze turkey, other meat and meals cooked from previously cooked and frozen meat. But once defrosted you should eat the food within 24 hours. 
  • You can make your leftovers into new meals then freeze them.
  • Make sure that when you come to use frozen leftovers, you defrost them thoroughly in the fridge overnight or in a microwave and then reheat until steaming hot
  • Left overs should be eaten of frozen within 2 days

For more advice on what you can do with leftovers visit Love Food Hate Waste.

Booking a Christmas meal?

Always remember to look out for the Food Hygiene Rating Certificates when you're eating out.

Contact us

Newark and Sherwood
District Council,
Castle House
Great North Road
NG24 1BY


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