Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Freezing tips anyone?

I am turning to all you brilliant readers out there. I have decided this time around with dash-3 to pre-make and freeze some meals. It sounds like a fabulous idea, I'm having a hard time remembering why I didn't try it with the other two.

Not that the whole fend for yourself, eat a sandwich, have the pizza place on speed dial didn't work well for us but this time around I'd actually like to eat some real food. And I don't want to listen to my husband whine every night.

What I'm hoping someone can help me out with are some tried and true tips for freezing food so that I don't pull out what I think is lasagna and turns out to be a giant marinara ice crystal.

Like how do you freeze lasagna? Do I just make it and cover it with foil? Surely that isn't gonna taste so good.

Help folks. I need help.

16 comments:

  1. Oh I think lasagna is on of the best thigns to freeze! I let mine cool and then cut it into chunks ( for me it works best in smaller portions) and then wrap each chunk tightly with plastic wrap and then put into a freezer zip lock bag. You can just take out the portions you need.

    Then I go wrap myself in my Snuggy. ;-)

    I know you didn't really ask for food suggestions... but if your family likes them, stuffed bell peppers freeze and reheat really well and are pretty much a meal all by themselves.

    Good luck! Looking forward to see what tips are offered.

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  2. i froze lots of meals before Isaac arrived. I put everything in freezer bags or plastic containers in individual portions. I'd either double wrap your lasagna in two bags or foil it and plastic it too. And label things! Bags make labeling easier. Casseroles, meats, breads, soup all freeze well. Pastas not so much unless its totally covered in sauce. I also bought those steam in a bag frozen veggies which are nice and easy.

    Best freezing tip is to just cook double of what you're making, container and freeze half.. so there is no extra work. Cheers!

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  3. No foil! That will allow freezer burn to set in. If you want to wrap it, wrap it in freezer paper.

    The best thing I EVER found for freezing things is Ziplock Freezer Bags. You can zip them most of the way and then push the rest of the air out. Good stuff!

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  4. I started freezing dinners about a year ago - same reasons pretty much - husband deploys and I didn't want to face kid food every night, or even when he is home we aren't tempted to overspend our dinner out budget since I am tired! A few I like:
    Stuffed Shells - big shells filled with whatever you like, cheese, meat, etc..you can lay them on a cookie sheet, freeze them in the open like that for a few hours, then dump them all into a baggie and freeze. That way you can make a bunch, then just grab however many you need, cover with sauce and bake them straight from the freezer!
    Meatballs & Stuffed Peppers the same way - Enchiladas freeze well if you have some of those reusable freezer to oven dishes. I am still learning, but these are the ones I use most often. good luck!

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  5. whatever you freeze....label and date it.....everything looks the same a month in the freezer.

    If you use bags.....remember to label the bag before you place the item in.....and use a permanant marker.

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  6. No foil! Use plastic bags, with a straw to suck the air out. :-D

    Lasagna, casseroles, and enchiladas are pretty standard...but my favorite cookbook is

    "Fix, Freeze Feast" by Kati Neville and Lindsey Tkascik
    http://www.amazon.com/Fix-Freeze-Feast-Prepare-Serving/dp/1580176828

    SO EASY. These recipes are not fussy, they use the amount of meat you buy in a pack at sam's or costco, and they are all amazing. We've never tried one we didn't like. A lot of our favorites are make and freeze marinades for meat; just pull out your dish the night before. The cookbook has you make the recipes in bulk (each dish is good for three or four dinners) and then you freeze them, with minimal cooking required on the serving/eating end. It is totally worth the $9 on amazon. TOTALLY.

    I use these for my squadron meals; I make a bunch of the tequila lime chicken or turkish pork chops, and have it ready to roll with some veggies and bread. So simple!

    Also, these are pretty healthy recipes, made with mostly fresh ingredients. I (we) live on freezer meals.

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  7. oooh, another fave that I forgot: make pesto and freeze it in an ice cube tray. Then you only have to make the pasta, mix it in with some tuna or shredded rotisserie chicken from the store, and VOILA: dinner.

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  8. I've never done the plastic bags for my lasagna, but that sounds like a good idea. I like to freeze it in something that can go directly into the oven (like a foil pan). I usually do plastic wrap followed by tin foil.

    Another casserole I like to freeze is this chicken and rice one from southern living:
    http://find.myrecipes.com/recipes/recipefinder.dyn?action=displayRecipe&recipe_id=480111

    (I usually leave the crunchy topping off to freeze) hope that helps you out!

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  9. I've frozen baked ziti before, and it turns out great. I freeze it before I bake it (I cover it with foil) and then just throw it in the fridge the night before I want to bake it to thaw.

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  10. I should get you in touch with my Mom. She has a book on how to freeze EVERYTHING...including eggs....yeah, weird.

    But as far as meals go your best best is to completely cook it, especially pastas or sauces. Then put them in a freezer friendly container, label with a sharpie (put food name, and date) and shove that bad boy in the freezer. For hamburgers, or other meat products cook, individually wrap in seran wrap, put in a freezer friendly zip lock bag and label away! Soups are super great to freeze as well. Just remember that it helps if you have one or two big days of cooking that way you can just get it all done!

    Another cool trick (no pun intended) is to freeze individual scoops of cookie dough and then cook when you want. It works really, really well! Put the individual scoops on a cookie sheet, put the sheet in the freezer. Once the individual scoops are frozen throw in a zip lock bag.

    I will ask my Mom for the name of that freezing book she has and send it your way!

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  11. There was a great article in Real Simple a few months ago about freezing food. Once everything is unpacked, I'll look it up for you. Or you may be able to search for it on the Real Simple website. Also, usually in their magazine they have an article of something easy to prep and freeze. They look really easy to make.

    Also, I have a food saver. Works wonders.

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  12. chicken cutlets freeze well, too. I dunno how other people make them, or what they call 'em, but get thinly sliced chicken cutlets (or pound the heck out of fat ones like my grandma used to), dip them in egg and then italian breadcrumbs and fry in a pan of oil. Eat some, cause they're good, and then put the rest in a freezer bag. I usually fold the freezer bag and put it inside another freezer bag. And I've reheated them in microwaves, ovens, and even the toaster. They're also good cold--but, eh, not frozen--in sandwiches.

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  13. Freezer bags. Or for stuff like casseroles, make them into smaller portions (loaf pans work GREAT!) and then wrap the pans in saran wrap and then in foil.

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  14. I make and freeze meals a lot. A friend and I get together every couple weeks and cook and freeze.
    For lasagna, I assemble (using uncooked noodles) then wrap in plastic wrap then foil. I put in the oven frozen, just takes longer (just don't forget to take off the plastic wrap and put the foil back on for baking.)
    Sometimes I cook the lasagna first and freeze individual portions. Wrap each piece in plastic wrap and toss them into a big freezer bag.
    I also really like spanish rice. Cooked rice, equal amounts of cooked ground beef. Add a tomato sauce (a can of tomato sauce and a can of mexican diced tomatoes works well). Freeze in a bag. Thaw the day that you want it, put in a casserole, cover with shredded cheese and bake.
    Since summer is here, I preseason ground beef and form into burgers. Then I freeze them on a parchment lined cookie sheet. A couple hours later, I toss them all into a big freezer bag. Makes it easy to toss a few burgers on the grill or in a pan without the fuss.
    I make ahead burritos as well, individually wrapped and tossed into a big, labeled freezer bag. You can just unwrap and microwave them for a minute or 2. I make breakfast burritos (eggs, sausage, hash browns, green sauce and cheese) and ground beef, bean and cheese.
    OK, enough rambling. Feel free to contact me any time.

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  15. To be honest, with lasagna, I'd freeze it UNcooked and then just throw it in the oven. But that's just me... and it'll be fresher that way. :-) But I'm the WRONG persno to give you advice here for SURE!

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  16. wow, this was very informative-- reading all of these comments! i'd never thought of making freezer meals for when you first have the baby! wow, if i were the first woman (eve, i guess), i'd be so screwed. i would have never thought of any of this stuff.

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