Leftovers, Anyone?

February 6, 2010

Whether you have children or not, coming up with something for dinner can be a challenge.  Doing things ahead can really help, and having something already prepared is even better.  I get a sigh of relief when, after fretting about what to cook for dinner, I open my freezer and find a tray of enchiladas or some wholesome soup.  Here are a few ideas of how and what to store in your freezer.

Freezer Safe Containers

You have probably seen the Gladware or Ziploc freezer containers at Target.  These containers with lids stack nicely on your freezer shelf come in a range of sizes, from single serving up through 2 qt.  They are marketed as disposable, but if you wash them by hand or in top rack of dishwasher, you can reuse them time and time again.  My only complaint is that the type of plastic used (PP), tends to hold stains and odors, so it takes some vigilant scrubbing to remove, say, pesto odors or tomato-based stains.

I use Ziploc Freezer Bags for all kinds of things, from soups and sauces to berries and tomato paste.  They are easy to pour from, disposable, and take up very little space in your freezer.  You can lay these flat on a shelf or toss them into one of your freezer baskets or drawers.

One of my favorites are the old school aluminum foil pans, in both the 9 x 13 and mini size.  These are so easy because they transfer right to the oven.  Take good care of them and you can reuse them.

Unlike glass, any metal loaf or casserole pan should be freezer safe.  You can prepare a dish in the pan you would normally use, cover it with foil, and pop in into the freezer.

Easy-to-Freeze Foods

Casseroles / Main Dishes– basically, anything you would bake in a 9 x 13 oven dish.  Prepare the dish up until the point where you would normally put it into the oven.  Cover it with heavy foil, label it with name and date, and put it in the freezer.  Make sure you let it cool to room temp first.  Some examples are:

  • lasagna
  • enchiladas
  • ranch chicken
  • breakfast casseroles
  • meatloaf
  • chicken pot pie

Soups / Sauces / Sides– Any soup, stew, or sauce will freeze well, in either a freezer bag or container with lid.  Some examples:

  • chicken soup
  • marinara sauce
  • chili
  • pot roast
  • beans (pinto, black, Lima)

Breads & Desserts– Double wrap breads in foil or use a freezer bag and store up to two months.  When you are ready to enjoy, pull them out and let them thaw on the counter.  Quick breads can be frozen after they are baked and cooled to room temp.  Freeze pies before they are baked.  Yeast rolls and breads can be frozen before they rise.  When you pull them out, they will rise as they thaw.  Some examples:

  • banana bread
  • parker house rolls
  • cinnamon rolls
  • pecan pie
  • pizza crust
  • pastry dough

A Kid-Friendly Freezer

My son eats about 5-6 times a day.  While half of those are what we would define as meals, the rest are more like snacks.  Having kid stuff in the freezer helps tremendously.  Here are some ideas:

  • fruit popsicles
  • frozen berries and other fruits
  • heat-and-serve meatballs
  • frozen peas
  • individual portions of leftovers like soups or meat dishes
  • frozen broccoli or greens (use these in omelettes or quesadillas)
  • frozen sweet potato fries
  • frozen waffles

Food That Do Not Freeze Well

  • rice
  • custards or egg-y desserts
  • meringue or other egg-white foods
  • already cooked pasta
  • heavily cream-based sauces

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2 Responses to Leftovers, Anyone?

  1. April on January 12, 2011 at 5:12 am

    Came here from ohdeedoh. I beg to differ about the rice. We freeze rice all the time and it’s a great short cut. However, we use Japanese (short/sticky) rice. Maybe that’s the difference?

    While the rice is still warm/fairly hot (so it doesn’t dry out and you’ll capture the steam), put it in a ziploc bag and press out the air. Fold the bag, or use a chopstick, to make grooves between various sections of the rice so it’s easier to break apart once frozen. I fold back and forth until a little space appears, and do that both directions so a gallon ziploc has four squares of rice. Leave on the counter (zipped closed) until room temperature, then freeze. To thaw, take a chunk out, put it on a plate, and add a Tablespoon of water (or if you’re lazy like me, just douse it and then let the extra water run off). Microwave on high for about a minute. Stir. Repeat in 30 second intervals until it’s hot.

    Almost as good as new.

    [Reply]

    thesweet Reply:

    Sounds like a great way to do it! I am going to try it- thanks!

    [Reply]

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