Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Saving Money On Groceries-Freezer Cooking

In many cases, it costs the same to make a double batch of something, as it does to make a single batch. When this is the case, I like to reserve one batch for my freezer.

FAQs of Freezer Cooking

Q: When should I freeze a dish?
A: When making casseroles or baked dishes, I freeze before cooking or baking. This way, it retains the most freshness when you reheat it. My personal experience has been that food cooked before freezing tastes very "leftovery" when defrosted.

Q: What kinds of meals freeze well? What kinds don't?
A: I have found that most soups and stews, casseroles, baked pastas, and baked hot dishes such as enchiladas freeze very well. Cream based soups, reheated leftovers, and foods prone to texture issues (such as mushrooms and other porous foods), will not freeze well.

Q: What do you freeze your meals in?
A: That depends. I have a FoodSaver I store my soups in. (I freeze soup in tupperware containers overnight, then move them over to the FoodSaver.) For baked dishes I use 9x13 foil tins, then cover with saran wrap and another layer of foil. 

Q: How do I reheat my frozen meals?
A: Again, it depends! You can either defrost in the refrigerator, or put your frozen meal directly into the oven. But, it's important to remember never put a glass container directly from the freezer to the oven. It will shatter. Add about 30-45 minutes to the cook time if you're going from the freezer to oven. Most baked dishes (pastas, enchiladas, etc) will require about 50-60 mins in the oven. I like to cover the dish with foil, then remove the foil for the last 15 minutes.

Q: What do you have in your freezer?
A:  I almost always have Chicken Noodle Soup (minus the noodles), Minestrone Soup, Twice Baked Potatoes, Spaghetti Sauce, Chili, Enchiladas, Baked Pasta, and Chili in my freezer.

Q: How long will my meals keep in the freezer?
A: In the FoodSaver, six to nine months. In plastic or foil containers or Ziplocs, I try to use them within 3 months.

Q: Any other tips?
A: Make sure you don't freeze soups with pasta in it. When I freeze Chicken Noodle Soup or Minestrone, I am careful to add the pasta when reheating instead of when freezing, otherwise it gets very soggy.

Q: Okay, so when do I get some good recipes?!?
A: Patience grasshopper. I will post some freezer-friendly recipes soon!

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