What's the best way to cook & freeze food that still looks good after it is thawed to serve at a later date? Planning to do some reheat sides for thanksgiving.
We have a vaccuum sealer - works great, absolutely worth the investment. They have them at Bed Bath and Beyond and we just got a 20% thing in the mail ... you probably did too!
If you do not want to buy a vacuum sealer, you can do it on the cheeap with a Ziploc baggie and a straw. Just set the food in the baggie and make sure it is lying on a flat surface, then stick the straw in the side of the lock and zip it up to the straw. Suck all the air out of the bag and quickly take the straw out and zip it closed. Sure it requires a bit more work, but you didn't have to buy anything new. I have done this plenty of times with paper plates and nice small meals, like meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and peas. Americana at its finest.
Instead of the straw method, try the Ziploc vacuum bags. The starter pack comes with a pump that is much like a vaccu vin pump. Much easier, and more efficient at removing air, than the straw method. I've bought in the States at supermarkets, but here's an Amazon link as well:
Removing the air makes for a MUCH longer, and tastier, storage life.
The vacuum sealers are really worth buying. We bought one originally when we went fishing and ended up with 6 Wild King Salmon. We sealed portions and had wonderfully "fresh caught" salmon for almost a year. I always cook for the fleet. Since they don't show up, we always have lots of leftovers. We use the vacuum sealer, and get to enjoy great meals at a moment's notice. Talking as someone who always thought plastic zip-lock types of bags and plastic or glass containers worked well... now that we use a sealer... the other methods just don't measure up. No freezer burn. No ice crystals. (Yes, try as you might with other methods, that can happen.) The nicest part, is that everything tastes freshly made. Or caught!