? about how to do freezer meals — The Bump
3rd Trimester

? about how to do freezer meals

I've never done freezer meals before and actually I don't cook but would like to learn and what better time than now.  So when you do freezer meals do you cook them all the way then freeze then reheat somehow when you're actually ready to eat?  If so how do you know how long to reheat?  Also what do you store them in and what do you put in to reheat?
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Re: ? about how to do freezer meals

  • I've never done freezer meals either, but I have also been doing research. This is a blog I've found extremely helpful.

    http://moneysavingmom.com/downloads/freezer-cooking-planners

  • As far as how to make/how to re-heat, it depends on what you're making.  I store them in those disposable oven safe dishes that usually come with lids.  The entire reason I freeze meals at all is for the fact that there is little/no clean up, because that's the WORST part about cooking!

    I keep a word document of my recipes, and here are my favorites:

    BAKED ZITI

                1 box ziti

    ? lb groundbeef

                ?onion, finely chopped

                1spoonful of minced garlic

                1(23oz) jar of spaghetti sauce

                ?cup Parmesan cheese

     

    MAKE AHEADPREPERATION

    -Cook pastaaccording to package.

    -In saucepan, brown onions, garlic, andground beef.  Add spaghetti sauceand season to taste.

    -Mix pasta and sauce together large mixingbowl with Parmesan cheese.

    -Place in10x10 oven safe dish; allow cooling, and put in the freezer.

     

    FINALPREPERATION

    -Remove fromfreezer and allow thawing overnight in refrigerator.

    -Preheat oven to 325.  Cook for 30 minutes.  Top with Parmesan and mozzarella andcontinue to cook for 15 minutes or until cheese is melted and pasta is heatedall the way through.

     

    CHICKEN POT PIE

                1(10.75oz) can Campbell?s condensed cream of chicken soup

                1(10oz) package frozen mixed vegetables, thawed.

                1cup cubed cooked chicken

                ?cup milk

                1egg

                1cup all-purpose baking mix

     

    MAKE AHEADPREPERATON

                -Mixsoup, vegetables, and chicken in 9in oven safe pie dish.

                -Seasonto taste

     

    FINALPREPERATION

                -Thawout frozen chicken mixture.

    -Preheatoven to 400.

                -Placemixture in 9-inch oven safe pie dish.

                -Mixmilk, egg and baking mix.  Pourover chicken mixture.

                -Bakefor 30 minutes or until golden brown.

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  • Usually I prepare the dish but then freeze it and fully cook it when we're ready to eat it. For example, lasagna...cook the noodles and meat and layer everything in the dish and freeze. When it's time to eat it, cook at recommended time/temp on recipe (i.e. 45 min, etc).

    Glad makes some great containers that can go from freezer to oven and be reused. You can usually find them in the section of your grocery store where the foil/saran wrap/plastic storage bags are.  

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  • I prepped and assembled everything right up until the baking phase. (So with enchiladas for example, all of the meat is cooked and onions are sauteed, but since I haven't baked it, the cheese isn't melted) Then I put everything in large BPA free Ziplock containers for freezing. When we're ready to eat it, I will defrost it in the fridge and then microwave it. You can also transfer it to a baking dish and reheat in the oven at 350 for 20 min or so, if you prefer. 

    So far we have:

    Chicken Enchiladas / Beef Stroganoff / Chili / Pulled BBQ Chicken (for sandwiches) / Homemade Mac 'n Cheese (for my 2 1/2 year old) / Tuna Noodle Casserole / Baked Ziti

    These all work really well for freezing and reheating.  Good luck!

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  • Each meal is going to be different as far as when to freeze and how much to pre-cook.  I think the best way to explain it is that you make the dish up until the point where you'd actually put it in the oven.  When you'd be ready to put it in the oven is when it needs to go in the freezer.

    For example, I made  a meatloaf.  I cooked the vegetables (I puree them for added nutrition and moisture to the dish) but left the meat and everything else raw.

    For my enchilladas, I cooked the chicken but left everything else raw before packaging.

    Make sense?

  • I made a bunch of stuff this weekend and this is what I did with it:

    Baked ziti and chicken casserole: Cooked everything and made it up until baking, put in a disposable baking dish, covered with plastic wrap, then lid and put in the freezer

    Meatloaf: Mixed everything up, left it raw and covered with plastic wrap and foil

    Beef Stroganoff: Cooked the whole thing and put in a plastic container. I'll defrost it and reheat it in the microwave.

    I also baked banana bread and muffins and made a batch of waffles and they can be defrosted as we need them.

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  • You guys are making me feel lazy.  I need to step it up.  I have two things of Eggplant and a thing of Chili in the freezer right now.

    Homemade soups and Chilis work great and you can freeze them in a big batch to thaw for an entire family dinner, or if you have the space, you can freeze them in individual sizes for single servings.  Here's the veggie soup and chili recipes I use.  I usually break out the huge stock pot and make enough for three dinners (just triple the recipes).  I'll also drop my shepherd's pie recipe on you.  Do everything except the oven step before you freeze.

    Normal 0

    Veggie Soup



    1 Tablespoon oil
    Various in season veggies, chopped
    3-4 cloves garlic, chopped
    8 cups water
    1 14-ounce can stewed tomatoes undrained

    Spices:
    2 teaspoons oregano
    1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
    1/2 teaspoon black pepper
    1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (if you want it a bit spicy)

    1 cup rice, barley or pasta (if desired)

    In a large stock pot, heat the oil and add veggies and garlic. Add in the spices, then saut? for 10 minutes on medium heat until veggies are softening.  If you are adding a leafy vegetable like spinach or cabbage, wait to add them until after the water.

    Add water, stewed tomatoes and brown rice/barley/pasta. Bring to a boil, and then simmer for 45 minutes.  If the broth is too watery, add a can of tomato paste and extra spices to taste. Normal 0

    Chili

     

    Chili Powder

    Garlic Powder

    Paprika

    Basil

    Oregano

    Salt and Pepper

    2lbs ground beef

    1 onion finely chopped

    1 green pepper finely chopped

    4 celery stalks finely chopped

    1 large can diced tomatoes (do not drain)

    3 cans red kidney beans

    1-2 cans tomato sauce

    1-2 cans tomato paste

     

     

    In a large pot, saut? beef with chopped veggies and generous amounts of all seasonings.  Drain off fat.  Add the undrained can of tomatoes.  Allow to slow cook, occasionally tasting and adding additional spices as desired.  Drain and rinse beans and add to mixture (adding these too early can make them mushy).  Use tomato sauce to thin mixture if it is too thick or use the paste to thicken it if it is too thin.

     

    Serve with garlic bread or baked potatoes.  As leftovers, it goes great on hot dogs or mixed with some spaghetti sauce over pasta.

    Normal 0

    Shepherd?s Pie

    If you do every part from scratch, this can take all afternoon to make.  Frozen mashed potatoes can speed up the process, but I prefer to just dedicate the afternoon to it and make a double batch: one to eat and one to freeze for next time.  It keeps wonderfully and you could never tell it was in the freezer.

     

    6 large potatoes peeled and chopped

    8 large carrots peeled and sliced or one large package of baby carrots

    ? onion finely chopped

    ? green pepper finely chopped

    1 bag frozen peas

    2lbs ground beef

    2 cloves garlic minced

    1 cup beef bouillon (can be canned or a tbsp of powder with 1 cup water added at the same time)

    Basil

    Thyme

    Ketchup

    1lb cheddar cheese, shredded

    ? cup milk

    Salt and pepper

    Butter/Margarine

    Sour Cream

     

    Boil potatoes and carrots in separate pots until soft.  Set aside.  Saut? beef with peppers, onions, garlic and herbs.  Drain off fat and add a generous squirt of ketchup and the bouillon and simmer to combine.  Mash carrots with a touch of butter and salt and pepper as needed.  Mash potatoes and add salt and pepper, sour cream and milk to preference.  Mix ? of cheese into potatoes.

     

    In a 9x13 pan, layer mixtures beginning with the beef on the bottom, followed by the mashed carrots.  Spread frozen peas evenly over the carrots.  Layer potatoes on top and smooth.  Sprinkle remaining cheese over the top.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.  If cheese begins to brown too quickly, cover with foil.

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  • I have a different oppinion.  I make it and bake it so when I get it out of the freezer, all I have to do is warm it up.  The only time I wouldn't is if the recipe specifically states diffently. 

    Here is a blog of a fellow nestie that might give you some ideas:

    http://joelens.blogspot.com/2007/01/freezer-friendlymake-ahead.html

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  • I like to not totally cook the meals prior and instead assemble them, freeze them and then cook right before serving.

    The best tips I read were about how to freeze.  I line my casserole dish with the Glad press 'n seal freezer wrap and then put foil on top of that.  I add the food and then fold the wrap over and stick the dish in the freezer.  A few hours later the food is frozen enough that you can just take the block of food out of the dish and leave it in the freezer but you have your dish back to keep using. 

    Then, when you want to make the meal, unwrap the frozen block, place it back into the dish and let it thaw in frig and then bake.

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  • image itsmevkb:

    The best tips I read were about how to freeze.  I line my casserole dish with the Glad press 'n seal freezer wrap and then put foil on top of that.  I add the food and then fold the wrap over and stick the dish in the freezer.  A few hours later the food is frozen enough that you can just take the block of food out of the dish and leave it in the freezer but you have your dish back to keep using. 

    Then, when you want to make the meal, unwrap the frozen block, place it back into the dish and let it thaw in frig and then bake.

    I do something similar with the freezer wrap.  Instead of using foil on the top, I let the item freeze, pull up the glad wrap and then place the frozen casserole in a 2 gallon zip log bag (you can sometimes fit 2 in each).  You can label the bag and write the reheat directions.  I always use the same Pyrex casserole dish for every receipe, so I don't have to worry about it fitting when I return it back into the pan to reheat.  This also allows you the choice to reheat via microwave, if you prefer (since there is no foil involved).

    I tried to do disposable foil pans before, but they are so flimsy and difficult to remove from the oven after the item is cooked. 

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