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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Freeze a meal ahead

Not sure what to have for dinner...again? Try this trick: When you ARE cooking, just double everything. Eat one meal that night, and freeze another for a day when you have no energy, are too busy, and just plain done cooking.
You can put certain things in freezer ziploc bags (soup, meat with a marinade, "dump" recipes, etc.). I have purchased aluminum pans with those foil lined cardboard lids and use those (but had to buy quite a few to get a good price). But you can also freeze them in a baking dish, without monopolizing all of your bakeware!

  1. Assemble your meal in the dish you would normally bake in (shown here are lasagna rolls). 
  2. Cover tightly with foil.
  3. Freeze in the coldest part of the freezer 1-2 days (it is best to let the food cool a bit first before freezing if there were things that were cooked before assembling. Do this in the refrigerator for food safety)
  4. Remove from the freezer and let sit on the counter an hour or so. You can also dip the dish in a sink of warm water for 5-10 minutes. This will loosen the edges.
  5. Use a butter knife to slip along one edge to loosen even more. Believe it or not, the whole thing will pop right out! (If you can't get the knife in, even just the tip of the knife will release the food from the pan). You can also turn it upside down and whack it on the counter (CAREFULLY so you don't break your dish!).
  6. Place your frozen block of delicious goodness into a freezer bag. 
  7. When it's time to eat your meal, remove from freezer bag and put BACK into the original dish. Let thaw in refrigerator 1-2 days and bake as normal! 

Some dishes you can bake from frozen and they work very well. Make sure you are using freezer-to-oven save bakeware!! Some you can put frozen into a crock pot and they'll do all the work for you while you're otherwise occupied! Some things don't freeze well, like: sour cream and cream based soups.

I've gotten into this habit of double-cooking, and really reaping the rewards on those super-busy days. Here's a cookbook that has many of our favorite freezer friendly meals. Give them a try and save yourself some time! Or, give one to a friend who needs a little help :)


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