Pre-planned freezer meals are a great stand-by when the evening meal choice has been overlooked and left-overs don’t look too appetizing.
Food grade plastic containers that hold single meal portions are useful. Make sure they are good quality and robust enough to withstand the rigours of freezing, thawing and repetitive handling.
They should be freezer and dishwasher safe. (Micro-waving is not recommended even for food grade plastic). Look for ones that are 500ml, or two cups, in volume and are stackable for storage.
An ideal number of containers is around twenty. This will allow you to store a variety of meals.
Good recipes for the freezer meals are stews, chilies, curries, spaghetti sauces, ragouts, stroganoffs (beef or pork), casseroles, chicken or pork pieces in sauces, fish stews and bisques and home made beans.
Other favorites are cut-able dishes like lasagna (meat, vegetarian or pesto), lentil pie, shepherds pie, fish pie, meat loaf, nut loaf and quiche.
Portions are spooned into the containers leaving a gap of about 3/8 of an inch from the top to allow for the expansion of freezing.
The more solid fare can be cut to fit the area of the container without worrying too much about freezing and pushing the lid off.
use a strip of masking tape or painters tape to note the contents and the date
prepared then stick it on the lid.
Freezer meals are so incredibly convenient. For example, after a busy day when no thought has been given to ‘what’s for supper?’ simply go to your freezer and select something delicious.
Rice, spaghetti, pastas, salads and vegetables are a great complement. Broccoli, for example, can be added to the heating portion two minutes before serving to slightly cook it and leave it crunchy and nutritious.
The most effective way to begin heating up the frozen meal is to place the container upside down in the sink and run hot water on the underside for 30 seconds or so.
Tip out the frozen meal into the pan so it comes out in one clean piece. Add a dribble of water to facilitate the thawing process and turn the heat up until the water starts to bubble, then turn the heat to low.
Place the lid on the pan and leave it for twenty to thirty minutes. This will give you a nice relaxed period to start the rice, potatoes or pasta and optional veggies whilst enjoying a glass of chef’s wine or catching up on the news.
When the frozen meal has started to thaw well, loosen it with a few stirrings then properly heat it through.
A huge advantage is that the meal will be a proper serving size and there will be no temptation to go back for that second serving because there won’t be any!