Thursday, April 1, 2010

Real frozen meals

If you love someone (or a family of someones) and they are exhausted for any number of reasons, including a renovation project that is taking weeks longer than promised, give them some frozen food.

real frozen meals
{real frozen meals}

I put together an enchilada casserole (which I will share sometime, because we made it up years ago and it's a staple) and a lasagna.

Easy-peasy frozen food

** Before assembling, line a standard size freezer safe dish (like Pyrex) with some aluminum foil. I say standard size because this works best if the person you are giving it to has a dish in the right size. So 8x8" or 9x13" pans work well.

** Put it all together. Don't bake it! Pop it in the freezer uncovered until completely frozen (overnight is best).

** Take it out, spread some aluminum foil out on the counter and turn the baking dish upside down over it. The frozen casserole will pop right out. Wrap it up well with foil, tape it (I used blue painters tape, because it was sitting around) to make sure it's secure.

** Write clear instructions on a large piece of tape and place it on top. Basically, the lucky recipient just needs to take the casserole out of the freezer, remove the foil and place it in an oven safe dish. Allow it to defrost in the fridge overnight and then bake it as the original recipe recommends, but add 15 - 30 minutes extra because it will be cold. So the note on the lasagna reads "Vegetarian lasagna - Remove foil, place in a 9x13" dish. Defrost overnight in fridge. Bake at 375 degrees for 1.5 - 2 hours"
I would recommend eating frozen casseroles within a couple of weeks, or a month at the latest. You don't want to let them sit there for ages because they'll get freezer burn eventually.

26 comments:

  1. these are wonderful tips. i have a dear friend who was just in a terrible accident and i've been wanting to do something like this for her family, but went to whole foods instead! now i'll know:)

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  2. I never thought about popping it out of the dish before you give it to them! I always send the dish lol. Great idea, thanks!

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  3. Great idea. I usually use the disposable tins, but I love the idea of just being able to package it in foil (esp since there is now recycled foil available). Thanks for the great tip! Casserole exchanges are also great if you have a group of friends who all are busy and want to stock their freezers!

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  4. Love the idea of using the foil underneath! Brilliant!

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  5. how smart you are! i can't master cheesemaking but i MIGHT be able to freeze a meal or two. :)

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  6. When my Mom was in the hospital we had people bringing food. There is one tip I can give - go to goodwill and buy a dish to cook/serve your meal in. It'll cost like 2$ and makes it a lot easier on the family. Also, let the family/friend know that they can keep the dish. It makes it a lot easier for them.

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  7. This such a simple tip - but so helpful! It would never have occurred to me to freeze it in the shape of the pan. I'm starting graduate school soon and know I'm going to be freezing a ton of stuff ahead of time. Thank you!

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  8. I am totally for this. My family does it a lot with our grandparents. Chili works great, too. Well, I guess you cook that beforehand, but you get where I'm goin'... :)

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  9. Brilliant idea with the foil! My dad was in a terrible bike accident a few years ago and people in our town brought by frozen casseroles every night for three weeks. My mom was so, so grateful and it not only helped her feed my big family while tending to my busted-up pops (he's fine now but he was a mess at the time), but I think it was also incredibly galvinizing to know we had the support of the community. However some of our nice neighbors never got their Pyrex back, so the foil is genius!

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  10. i honestly can't think of a nicer thing to do for someone. a home-cooked meal with the convenience of a tv dinner!

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  11. I'm holding my breath for the enchilada casserole recipe!

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  12. This is a great idea, and I can confirm people love it! I actually gave my brother a giant frozen shepard's pie as a Christmas present, and he was thrilled.

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  13. are you going to be martha stuart one day? but a way cooler version?

    last time there was a new baby around, i BOUGHT something for them to eat later.

    this time i am going to MAKE it, i better get on that...

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  14. the idea of wrapping it in foil but using the dishware as a mold is such a good idea.

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  15. Love this. Such a great gift for an expecting couple :) I could imagine a stack of little dinner "bricks" being a lifesaver.

    (Please post the enchilada casserole recipe!)

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  16. This is a great idea - I shared it with my mom group since everyone brings meals to the new Mom's

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  17. I just happened upon your blog and I love it...have been reading through all your posts and I think they are truly gorgeous...will be back!

    Love love love,

    Erin

    xx

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  18. That's a really great method of freezing food. Thanks for sharing! Seems like a good thing to do just in general, to keep on-hand for use when I don't feel like cooking.

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  19. @ anonymous - Picking up spare baking dishes at the thrift store for occasions like these is a great idea! I do that with vases, because I feel bad asking people to return vases after I give them flowers.

    @ everyone - This works best if you know the recipient well enough to know they have a supply of baking dishes. I did this for my parents, so I know that they'll have all the standard size Pyrex dishes and I didn't have to worry about it. Also works well for cooking and freezing for yourself, because you know which dishes you have.

    @ those who asked - I will make sure to share the enchilada casserole recipe soon. We make it pretty often - I just need to snap photos and take notes as I make it, because it isn't written down anywhere.

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  20. That is a great tip. I will be using it. Thanks!

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  21. enchilada casserole, oh dear i am too excited for this!

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  22. Great tip - thanks! I was wondering how to freeze a homemade lasagna instead of buying ready-made.

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  23. I'm so hoping our friends do this for us when our baby arrives.

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  24. you are my hero. I keep meaning to get started in the frozen food area but when I open my freezer, things start to cascade out. I'm can't wait for the recipe of enchilada casserole. yum!

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  25. Thank you for this! My idea of the pinnacle of kindness and goodness is making a frozen casserole for someone - one of those things that must have gotten ingrained and stuck in my imagination when I was little. I never knew exactly how, though! I would have baked it first instead of freezing it raw.

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