Freezer to Table: Tips & Tricks for Thawing Dream Dinners Meals

It’s 5:00pm, and you just realized that no meals are thawed for dinner.

Don’t panic; it’s happened to all of us, and we have some great tips for safely and quickly thawing frozen food! Once tonight’s dinner is taken care of, keep scrolling in this blog post for tips to help you in the future, like cook-from-frozen meals, thaw reminder text alerts, and guidelines for how long your food will last once thawed.

Cold Water Thawing

Cold Water Thaw MethodUse the cold water thawing method to safely thaw a Dream Dinners meal in about one hour. It’s important to do this right, so you don’t introduce bacteria to the food while you defrost it. Here are the USDA’s instructions: The food must be in a leak-proof package or plastic bag. The bag should be submerged in cold tap water, changing the water every 30 minutes, so it continues to thaw. Small packages of meat, poultry, or seafood — about a pound — may thaw in an hour or less. A 3-to 4-pound package may take 2 to 3 hours. Once thawed completely, the food must be cooked immediately.


Microwave Thawing

Woman using a microwaveAnother slightly faster option is to use the defrost mode on your microwave to thaw frozen food. This method takes about ten minutes, and you should review your microwave’s manual (or just Google it – does anyone keep those manuals?) to learn the best way to defrost a specific cut of meat according to the microwave’s settings. Be careful to avoid cooking at too high a heat or for too long, as this can actually cook the meat instead of defrosting it. Whether you opt for the cold water method or microwave defrosting, it’s important to cook the meat or Dream Dinners meal right away to avoid entering the “danger zone” temperatures, which can introduce bacterias that cause illness.

Printable Freezer List

Dream Dinners Freezer List on FridgeNow that tonight’s dinner is taken care of, let’s talk about some tools to help you feel more prepared in the future! One resource that we provide to guests at Dream Dinners is a monthly freezer sheet, which lists all the meals (and quantities!) you brought home. Place your freezer list on your refrigerator door and mark off each meal as you pull it out to defrost. This will help you get in the habit of thawing meals, plus it allows you to see which meals are left in your freezer without having to dig through them. 

Thaw Reminder Texts Alerts

Do text alerts sound like a helpful resource? Log into your Dream Dinners account, scroll to the section titled “Opt Into Dream Dinners Email & Text Messaging,” and then set your text preferences so you are opted in to thaw reminders. You’ll get a text each Sunday reminding you to move a few meals from the freezer to your fridge!

Dream Dinners Thaw Bin

Thaw Bin in FridgeUse your Dream Dinners thaw bin as a reminder to pull out more dinners – if your thaw bin is empty, it’s time to move more dinners to the fridge! A few other strategies include once a week thawing, which is when you pull 3-4 meals out on Sunday after you get your text alert, or the “cook one, thaw one” method, which is when you pull 3-4 meals out to thaw and then each time you cook one, you replace it with another meal from your freezer. You’ll always have tasty meals defrosted and ready to enjoy!

Easy Peasy Cook-From-Frozen Meals

Canadian Bacon Stuffed French BreadSometimes, no matter how much you plan, you end up needing a Dream Dinners meal when they are all still in the freezer. Grab a few of our “cook-from-frozen” meals each month, like our Canadian Bacon Stuffed French Bread and Tortellini Al Forno, so you are always prepared! These easy meals typically come in a disposable pan or wrapped in foil and can be popped right in the oven, making them ideal for busy families.

Refrigeration Storage Timeline

Mom Taking Dream Dinners Out of the FridgeOnce you put your meals in the fridge, it’s important to remember to use them within a few days of defrosting. Depending on where you place the meals in your refrigerator and what temperature your appliance is kept at (experts recommend 38 – 40 degrees), it can take several days (sometimes up to 2 – 5) to completely thaw your Dream Dinners meals. Once your meals are completely thawed, be sure to cook them within these timeframes:

  • Steaks/beef, three to five days
  • Poultry/Pork, one to two days
  • Seafood, one to two days

Now you might be thinking, “how am I supposed to remember what day I put this meal in the fridge?” You probably have a lot on your mind, and keeping track of when you moved meals from the freezer to defrost can be challenging. A great strategy to use is keeping a Sharpie or permanent marker near the fridge (consider attaching it with velcro, so it doesn’t walk off). Use the marker to write the date that you moved the frozen meal into the fridge to thaw, and you won’t have to worry about using it after it’s been sitting for too long! You can also use your Sharpie to mark the date you opened refrigerated products, like a jug of milk or carton of creamer, so that you always throw it out after the appropriate amount of time.

We hope you enjoyed tonight’s meal and that you feel well-equipped to manage future thawings safely!