Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Making and freezing food in bulk

My mom and one of my brothers visited my wife and me this past weekend in order to deliver the cradle—we're expecting a baby girl at the end of this month—made by my father-in-law. We decided to take advantage of this visit to prepare some frozen food to ease transitioning into parenthood. For about a day-and-a-half we cooked and froze one or more of the following meals to produce about 20 frozen ready-to-reheat meals:
  • Jambalaya
  • Mock Lasagna: layered cooked spaghetti with sauce and cream cheese
  • Penne with sausage and vegetables in spaghetti sauce
  • Chicken Cacciatore
  • Chicken Tetrazzini
  • Tuna Casserole
  • Chili
  • Chicken Curry with chickpeas, spinach, and rice 
  • Rice, chicken and vegetables covered by cream of mushroom soup
  • Enchiladas
  • Meatloaf (uncooked)
  • Meatballs (uncooked)
We started by prepping almost everything: chopping vegetables; thawing, cutting, and seasoning proteins; buying and organizing canned goods; cooking rice and pasta. Prep work transferred most of the contents of my freezer to my refrigerator, which was full and working hard to keep food cool.

The general procedure we followed was to prepare two dishes at a time, and we tried to make double batches when possible. We would cook the meat for each dish, let the meat cool a little, line a freezer-safe container with plastic wrap, apply non-stick spray to the wrap, build the dish in the container, cover with plastic wrap, and stick in the freezer.

After a dish had thoroughly frozen (a day) we removed the dish from its container and wrapped it in aluminum foil outside the plastic wrap, and then wrote the name of the dish and the name of the container we froze it in. When we reheat/cook the dish we know what container to use for best-fit.

All-in-all the batch cooking was a success, and I expect the pre-made dishes will be appreciated by future me.

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