Over the past few weeks I’ve really enjoyed peeking in the freezer to find out what’s for dinner. It doesn’t take much thinking – it’s already prepared!
I spent one morning last month cooking up a storm, followed up by a few triple batches of other nights’ dinners. A little pre-prep resulted in meatloaves, meatballs, lasagnas, enchiladas, pasta sauce, and mashed potatoes, among other things. I know that cooking ahead saves me time, money, and sanity — all of which I need in abundance!
Readers asked a few questions that were really good and pertinent to learning how to cook and freeze your meals.
Do you cook items before freezing them? ie did you cook the lasagna?
No, I don’t cook all items before freezing. I find that lasagnas or other casseroles dry out if they get cooked twice. The same goes for meatloaf. I usually just freeze it uncooked, thaw, and then bake right before serving. I do cook meatballs ahead of time, cool, and then freeze.
How long do you thaw things?
Sometimes it takes several days for a casserole to thaw, it depends on what it is. I plan ahead and pull things out 1-2 days before I hope to serve it. The thicker and denser the item, the more time it needs to thaw. You can cook things straight from the freezer, but it will take longer. I find that we like things better if they’ve had enough time to defrost.
What kind of containers do you put food in before going in the freezer?
Meatballs and meatloaves go in freezer bags. Meats that are marinating also go into freezer bags. Items like chicken and vegetables that I will add to a pasta or rice dish later, go in tupperware type containers. I find that I waste less that way as it’s sometimes hard to get all the little bits out of the bag. Soups, stews, and chilis go into plastic containers with lids. Casseroles go into some kind of baking dish.
It varies from month to month. When I’ve gone all out and cooked up 30 meals, then I will buy disposable foil or cardboard pans, depending on if I can get a good deal on them. The problem with those is that I feel guilty throwing them away, and they are a pain to clean. So, if I know that I’ll be serving the item within a short period of time (2-3 weeks), then I use my pyrex dishes and wrap them well. My favorites are the ones with the plastic lids.
Still got a question? Fire away!
For more kitchen tips, visit Tammy’s Recipes every Tuesday.