Photo: Greg Dupree; Prop Styling: Claire Spollen; Food Styling: Chelsea Zimmer

"Freezes beautifully" is music to our ears.

You know you’ve lucked out with a recipe when it’s delicious the first time around and then freezes beautifully before you go back for round two. There are many tactics for freezing food correctly, but when it comes down to it, all you need are these three simple steps. These steps, brought to you straight from the Southern Living Test Kitchen, are a foolproof way to freeze food safely. Check out some of our best freezer meal suggestions and stock your freezer full. Before you get to defrosting, though, read our signs you shouldn’t eat that frozen food to be sure it’s still good. Here are our Test Kitchen’s easy steps to freezing food.

Step 1

Label a ziplock plastic freezer bag with a waterproof marker. Include the recipe name, date, and cooking instructions. Note anything that should be added later, like grated cheese.

Step 2

Prepare the ingredients (such as raw proteins and vegetables, seasonings, etc.) according to the recipe, and place them in the bag. Don’t freeze fresh herbs, pasta, dairy products, or grains like rice.

WATCH: The Easiest Way to Freeze Casseroles

Step 3

Let out as much air as possible from each bag, and then flatten them so they can be stacked in the freezer. Defrost bags in the refrigerator before adding the contents to the slow cooker.