Hello- I know we've gone over which casseroles are good to freeze, but how long do they last in the freezer? I want to make a few meals for me and dh for when the baby arrives (thanks to everyone who posted ideas!!), but I don't want to be eating freezer burned food for dinner. I don't know if it's too early to start cooking and freezing if we're looking a due date of May 25th? Of course, baby may decide otherwise .
Good question! I'm curious myself. I was going to start making stuff this weekend.
Yikes, I hadn't thought of that...
Tonight I'm making the Baked Rigatoni from April 2000 (I still don't have the new April issue :mad , and I planned to freeze half of it to have after the baby arrives. Our due date is mid-June. I was figuring it would be ok in the freezer for 2-3 months...?
Also, what is the procedure for freezing food like this? Do I fully bake it just like I'm going to serve it tonight and then let it cool before freezing? And after it's frozen, do I let it defrost some before reheating, and how do I know what temp/time to reheat for? As you can see, I'm a real novice when it comes to freezing stuff...
At the grocery store, I found these reusable Glad Ovenware trays w/ covers that are good for oven, microwave, freezer, etc. They come in all different sizes. I figured these would be good for storing meals in the freezer. Has anyone tried these yet?
Actually I don't cook stuff before freezing, I just assemble it and put in the freezer and then bake it when I'm ready. I think it tastes less "left-over" that way. Also, I thaw first and then bake at the same temp that the original recipe called for. I've done that with chicken enchiladas and it's always worked great!
I'm going to try the Baked Rigatoni too, that sounds good! I also have a recipe for a prosciutto lasagna that I cut out from CL a few months ago but never tried. Can't remember what the exact name was, but it was part of an article that featured recipes that were meant to be made ahead of time and frozen. I bought a bunch of single-serving sized lasagna pans so that we can just thaw and cook what we need.
[This message has been edited by SusanD (edited 04-03-2001).]
Try the CL Classic Lasagna. I make that and it is delicious and freezes well. Also try aa good beef vegetable soup. This also freezes well. I made several varieties of soup while I was staying with my daughter when she delivered my first grandchild in November. I froze portion in small containers that she could open and use for a single serving lunch or open two or three for a quick dinner after I went home. She called them comfort food. She could not eat the Lasagna as she was nursing and the baby did not like the spices. When they visit now, I must be careful about cooking without too many spices and too much dairy as he does not like that either.
[This message has been edited by Pat (edited 04-03-2001).]
I found a variety of casseroles in the CL complete book- some spicy, some not. I figure I can go easy on the spices in the spicier dishes. I want to use those foil trays, but I'm not sure how long they'll last in the freezer. So far, I want to make the creamy chicken casserole, ham tetrazzini, chicken enchiladas, calzone, and maybe a mac and cheese. Those are all the CL dishes. Then I figure I'll make a lasagna, some soups, and freeze lots of pizza dough. I
I bake frozen things the same way as SusanD- defrost and then cook at the temperature in the recipe. I just have no idea if I'll have time to cook or if I'll be too exhausted!
I'm not sure I know which kind of foil trays you mean. But, I think if you seal it up tightly, the food should last up to 3 months. I remember reading that somewhere once... Maybe this helps?
p.s. Thanks also to the Susans - I will take your advice on just preparing the rigatoni, but not baking it tonight. Later, I'll thaw and then bake according to the recipe. Thanks!!! Now I just need to find some other foods to freeze - I think we're going to get sick of casseroles/baked ziti/etc!!!
Most casseroles will be ok in the freezer for 3 months, and still edible after that but the quality probably won't be as good. I always do my the same way as SusanD and Mrs. Reber and do not bake before freezing. Just be sure to wrap things very well, cool things all the way down in the fridge before freezing, and don't try to freeze too many things at once (I've made all these mistakes before).
I'm impressed with all of you moms-to-be getting this done -- I had good intentions to do the same with both of my kids but somehow never got around to it. And for those of you who are planning on nursing, the spicy food may be ok. One of my kids was not bothered at all by anything I ate when nursing (and still has an iron stomach). The other was sensitive only to green vegetables. I think it's like everything else in pregnancy and parenthood -- everyone is different.
Good luck to all of you!
clairea, i was just wondering: what happens if you freeze too many things at once?
SusanD, we had the baked rigatoni last night. it was good, but not outstanding...i think maybe i didn't make enough rigatoni noodles? in any case, we have more of it in the freezer now, thanks to all your freezing suggestions! i even labeled the container with reheating instructions - my DH thinks i'm crazy, but i told him he'll be thankful later?!?
Has anyone out there successfully frozen one of those greek shrimp & pasta w/ tomato recipes (like the greek scampi)? will the shrimp get too rubbery? does feta cheese freeze well?
Thanks for heads-up on the Rigatoni, Marisa. We're also going to stock up on individual chicken breasts and pre-made burgers so we can just throw those on the grill...why not, it's summer!
I have found that if I try to freeze too much at once I get ice crystals on the food and the quality is not as good. I'm not sure why this happens. I do know that the freezer tips in the Make It Ahead supplement that CL had out over the holidays also said to only freeze a little bit at a time. Unfortunately, I only read this after I had learned all these lessons the hard way. I'm not sure what "too much" is -- I literally filled my entire freezer as full as I could get it over the course of about 3 days one time -- that was definitely too much. I would think that you could do 3-4 things at a time no problem, and then just make sure they are completely frozen before adding anything else.
If you guys want the rest of the freezing tips and don't have the supplement, I will be glad to post them as I have time to type them in. Just let me know.
Clairea, that would be wonderful! You're so nice for offering to post!
thanks clairea, those tips will really help me, as i'm still a novice freezer!
These are the freezing tips from the CL Make It Ahead supplement (paraphrased).
1. Freeze food in moistureproof, airtight containers. Don't use: milk or juice cartons or plastic jugs, ricotta or cottage cheese containers, yogurt containers, butter/margarine tubs, glass jars that don't have "Ball" or "Kerr" on them, glass jars with narrow mouths (even if they are Ball or Kerr jars), plastic sandwich bags, plastic zip-top storage bags (as opposed to plastic zip-top freezer bags), plastic produce bags, or plastic bread bags.
2. Freeze food in small portions and in shallow containers.
3. Place food in a single layer in the freezer until frozen. Once frozen solid, it's OK to stack containers to save freezer space.
4. Set your freezer temperature to -10. Once food is frozen solid, reset to 0.
5. Freeze only 2-3 pounds of food per cubic foot of freezer space at the same time.
6. Slightly undercook food that will be frozen, except baked goods (although I think the consensus on this thread has been that most of us freeze the food uncooked).
7. Use a container or packaging that fits the shape and size of the food to be frozen.
8. Pack food tightly to eliminate as much air space as possible.
9. Pack the container almost full, leaving only a little space for the food to expand as it freezes.
10. Press excess air from freezer bags.
11. Make sure the container or bag is tightly sealed.
12. Organize contents of freezer so wrappings don't become loose or pierced.
13. Lable packages with a freezer marker indicating the contents, number of servings, and date of storage.
14. Thaw food in refrigerator unless otherwise directed (this may take longer than overnight or even 24 hours).
15. Keep an inventory identifying each food in the freezer and its "use by" date on the outside of the freezer, and update each time an item is removed. (I can't imagine being this organized, but hopefully it will work for you ).
I hope this helps.
I just realized this post made me a member! Yay!
[This message has been edited by clairea (edited 04-04-2001).]
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