Two weeks ago, our ward Relief Society group hosted a class about freezer meals. Although I've frozen a few meals in the past, it was so inspirational to get together with others and see how they do it.
Last week I froze a big pan of enchiladas and enough barbecue pork for five meals. You see, I have this dream. It involves Christmas vacation and no cooking. Frozen pizzas, chicken nuggets, and take-out get old fast, and I get sick if I eat like that for more than a meal or two. So I'd like to fill up my freezer and give myself a little vacation. I actually love cooking, but it's kind of hard sometimes with Tiger Lily. Why do kids always need all your attention in the hour before dinnertime?
Anyway, I'm looking forward to having some meals on hand in case of illness, laziness, vacation, or whatever comes up. Here are some tips I picked up from the class and my own experience.
- You don't have to have a huge cooking day, cooking 30 meals all at once to fill your freezer. You can just double whatever you're making for dinner and freeze it. It usually doesn't take much more trouble.
- You don't have to have special freezer recipes, although obviously some meals freeze better than others. If you want to know how something freezes, just freeze a spoonful of it the next time you make it, wait a week, and see how it tastes.
- 9" x 13" baking pans fit right into two-gallon zipper bags. Double-bag to avoid freezer burn, and cover the top of the pan with foil to keep the bags cleaner. I usually don't reuse bags, but I might consider it with these since they don't get too dirty and are a bit expensive.
- 9" square or round baking pans fit into gallon zipper bags.
- You can pick up cheap aluminum baking pans from the dollar store. These are especially great if you're taking a meal to someone—no dishes to return. They're also convenient so your pans aren't stuck in the freezer all the time. I actually reuse these: just toss them in the dishwasher. If they come with a plastic cover, I just toss it and use foil instead, since it doubles the amount of space used in the freezer.
- Breads freeze well. Thaw on the countertop before unwrapping.
- To freeze liquidy foods in bags, fill bags, let out all air before sealing, and freeze flat. This really helps maximize freezer space. If you're worried about leakage, leave the bag flat on the bottom of a pan until frozen.