photo © 2010 Kathleen Franklin | more info (via: Wylio)
I love freezer meals because they save me time and money. If you have always wanted to try your hand at freezer cooking but thought you’d have to purchase dozens of plastic food storage containers and freezer-safe casserole dishes you are in luck. As it turns out you only need a couple of casserole dishes and a few food storage containers! Here are some tips on how to freeze, store, and reheat all of your meals:
You will want to stock up on aluminum foil or parchment paper, both gallon and quart sized plastic freezer bags and some labels.
To make the most of your freezer space, try to freeze your foods as flatly as possibe. You will be able to stack them on top of each other and fit more food into your freezer.
To freeze casseroles, you’ll simply line the casserole dishes with enough aluminum foil or parchment paper to come up over the sides of the dish. After the casserole is assembled, bring the foil or parchment paper up and cover the casserole tightly, and then wrap it in a second freezer bag.
Once the casserole is frozen, remove it from the outer bag, pop the frozen casserole out of the dish, and place the aluminum foil wrapped casserole back into the freezer bag. When it is time to cook the casserole, remove it from the freezer and place in the same baking dish to thaw. Once thawed, take it out of the freezer bag and cook. Since it is lined with the aluminum foil or parchment paper, clean up will be a breeze! Simply throw the foil or paper out and wash the dish!
Make it a point to label each freezer bag. You can write the name of the entrée and the reheating instructions on a piece of paper and stick it inside the bag, on top of the aluminum foil covered casserole or write the instructions on the bag with a permanent marker. Another idea is to print out the information on packing slip labels ahead of time and just peel and stick as you cook and freeze your items.
Keep track of the meals you have on hand by placing a magnet mounted whiteboard on your freezer door. If you add three lasagnas, two portions of chicken fajita meat, two beef stews and one ham casserole, write them on your board. As you take things out of the freezer to thaw, erase them. It can be easy to forget what you have previously made, and if you don’t remember it’s there, you’ll never be able to use it!
If you don’t have a deep freeze, try bulk cooking in two-week inventories. By freezing things flatly you should be able to store two weeks worth of food in a normal sized freezer.
If you find your family doesn’t like a certain ingredient after it’s been frozen, simply omit that item and add it the dish as you are cooking it for that night’s supper.
If your dish calls for pasta, remember to assemble it with slightly undercooked pasta. The pasta will finish cooking when you reheat the dish.
Here are some good freezer meal recipes to help you get started:
Chili freezes and reheats beautifully, try doubling this Vegetarian Chili or your favorite recipe.
Soup is another thing I love to freeze in food single serving or family sized storage containers. Try Homemade Turkey Soup, Butternut Squash Soup or Turkey Chili Soup.
Wow dinner guests with this Carrot Souffle that you made ahead and froze. Your secret will be safe with me.
Another good recipe for left over chicken or turkey is Turkey Pot Pie
Do you have your own freezer meal tips? Feel free to share in the comments!