Freezer burn can zap your delicious of all of its flavor in no time. This condition occurs when air pulls water to the surface of the food, causing the rest of it to become dehydrated. The flavor changes and foods can begin to smell bad even when they’re frozen. Gross! 

Of course, making food ahead of time and freezing it can be a lifesaver for busy people. Prepared freezer meals are so much healthier than that drive-thru fare, and they can be just as time-saving. So of course you don’t want to give up on the freezer altogether. 

Freezer burn is generally caused when food isn’t securely wrapped. Grayish-brown, leathery spots can appear on the surface of meat, and white crystals can grow over fruits, pies, ice creams and more. 

While freezer burn is safe to eat, it’s never very appetizing. Cutting around freezer burnt spots is the one way to save freezer burned foods, but the best thing you can do is ensure foods don’t get burnt in the first place. 

Here are 5 tips to help prevent freezer burn:

1. Let hot foods cool first. Make sure food has cooled down on the counter — ideally in the refrigerator — first, before you stick it in the freezer. 

2. Control temperatures. Freezer burn only happens if temperatures rise above 0 degrees F. Keep a thermometer in your freezer so you can check frequently and make sure you’re on track.

3. Use a deep freezer. If you’re big into freezing foods, you may consider investing in a deep freezer. Along the same lines as above, if you’re constantly accessing your everyday freezer, the temperatures are very likely to rise above 0 degrees F.

4. Keep freezer full, but not too full. You’ll want enough food in your freezer that it can help regulate the temperature of the freezer, but not so much that cold air can’t circulate. Fill your freezer about 75 to 85 percent full. 

5. Packing is important. Don’t cut corners when packaging food for the freezer. Do what you can to eliminate frozen food from being exposed to air. For soups, store in a plastic container, but leave a little room for the frozen liquid to expand. Place some plastic wrap over top before capping with a lid. For casseroles, add plastic wrap on top followed by foil, then a lid, if possible. Thick freezer bags or vacuum-sealed bags are great for lots of other foods. Just wrap and rewrap when possible.