Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Freezing Meals Part Deux

Sometimes I'm not quite sure how far to go with a post. When I'm talking in person I can usually pick up the bored/glazed eyes right away while I'm rambling on about how to make yogurt or the super sale on bananas that I found. But with blogging there are no eyes to gauge, only comments. So when I get lots of questions I get excited. Finally, a rapt audience that I haven't frugally bored to death yet!

Do you cook the meal and let it cool before you freeze it? Or do you assemble it and freeze it before cooking?

I usually freeze meals that are just prepared not cooked. I like them to be fresh baked when I eat them, not just reheated leftovers. The end result is a better quality meal. I usually assemble the whole thing up to the cooking directions and freeze at that point.

Are there certain foods or recipes that you find freeze better than others? I am sometimes weary of freezing certain things because I am unsure of how they will turn out and I don't want to waste the food if its a dud.

I've frozen casseroles, unbaked pies, bean soups, stews, chili's, baked muffins and breads, raw berries, grated veggies, and cheese dishes without any problems. I've also done raw steaks in their marinades and unbaked quiches. So if it fits into those categories, it should work just fine.

I'm wondering how much longer you need to cook the frozen casseroles or do you unthaw first?

If I have time, I'll unthaw and just follow the regular instructions. But usually I'm grabbing a freezer meal because time is short or I'm feeling lazy. You can put a frozen meal directly in the oven but allow for around 20 minutes extra in cooking time. Usually casseroles are a "cook till bubbly" kind of food so that's what you're looking for in a finished product. Be sure to check the middle though because that stays frozen the longest.

13 comments:

Heather said...

Great tips. I just put an unbaked casserole in the freezer today!

Anonymous said...

I also freeze after assembly. Frozen lasagna takes the longest to bake from frozen (up to 2 hours) so I generally take out of the freezer that morning and let it thaw. Favorites to make and freeze are mac and cheese (so much better than box, lasagna, chicken enchiladas, burritos, and of cource soup and stock for future use.

schwartz said...

I have fallen in love with your blog...thanks for the GCC...I think that I am going to attempt this over the weekend when I shop for groceries (family of 4).

Vicki said...

Thanks for taking the time to answer all the questions. I just blogged about one of my staple freezer recipes. It's not a casserole!

http://naturalhomemaking.blogspot.com/2009/04/pasties.html

Lisa B. said...

gayle I am never bored here. I always learn something new. Thanks for sharing that you make but dont bake. I didnt know you could do that.

Lynn said...

The freezer is my friend too!! I like to put full meals in the freezer. I also put parts of meals in the freezer. For example, if ground beef is on sale I'll cook up a bunch of it ahead of time and store in freezer bags. If I've got veggies in the fridge (carrots, onion, celery, garlic, etc.) I'll dice those, saute them with the meat and freeze it all together in 2 cup portions in freezer bags. Not only does it stretch the meat, but it makes it healthier too.

Erin said...

What about breads and muffins? Are they cooked before frozen? If so, how do you keep them from getting soggy when you thaw them out?

Gayle said...

I've not ever had a problem with frozen muffins getting soggy. I don't use cupcake papers, I cook my muffins directly in the pan. Then I cool them completely on a wire rack before storing them. I usually use a gallon bag and can get 10 - 12 stored flat in the bag and then freeze them flat in the freezer. When I thaw them I just take the pack out and set them on the counter, still in the sealed bag, overnight or for a few hours. They thaw out just fine with no sog.

Sandy(a.k.a.Grannie) said...

Never defrost meat and reassemble and then refreeze without cooking it thoroughly. Once you defrost meat, you are committed to cooking it asap.

Penny@WickedBroke.com said...

Whenever I have a new recipe that I'm not sure will freeze well I do a small test batch. I'll freeze enough for 1-2 servings to see how it comes out. This usually saves me from having to throw out a whole meal because something didn't freeze well.

Marci said...

Great tips! I have always wanted to freeze meals, but I have never know how do do it properly. Can't wait to try now!

Tiffany said...

Thanks so much for the additional info! I feel like I can tackle freezer foods now. I am new to your site, but am enjoying looking around.

The Mangerchine's said...

Thanks for the useful freezer tips. I've dabbled in freezer cooking, but haven't really gotten creative or disciplined at it yet.

Shannon