Individual Freezer Servings

Frozen lunches without additives or preservatives

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Looks delicious, doesn’t it? It’s homemade spinach enchildas. How many of you like to eat leftovers for three days straight? Not many of you, I’m guessing. Family favorites can quickly become tiresome knowing you’re going to be eating it for several meals in a row. Why not freeze some of your next 9×13 casseroles and savor the taste at a later date.

I used to buy Stouffers and Lean Cuisine single serve meals when I worked full-time. The prices range a little over two dollars for most meals. Healthier frozen Kashi meals ring up in the three to four dollar range. Individual servings made from home make a healthier alternative (with no preservatives or additives) and puts extra jingle in your pocketbook. Ask your husband his favorite lunch options and duplicate a couple of them in a 9×13 pan and divide into single servings for your freezer.

How to make your own “Brown” or Stouffers meals at home…

The next time you make a family favorite, allow it to cool at room temperature up to two hours-no longer. I recommend going ahead and individualizing your meals right after dinner. Cutting the large portion into smaller portions will allow the food to cool much quicker. I allow the uncovered portions to stand for about thirty to forty-five minutes depepending upon how dense the entree is.

For example, The entree below is spinach enchildas, I’ve portioned into four freezer meals. This works fantastic for my hubby’s lunch days we don’t have  leftovers. We often don’t have any on a breakfast for dinner night or fish night, so I remove one of these meals from the freezer the night before and thaw in the fridge. Or I place a frozen meal in his lunch bag and tell him not to put it in the fridge during the morning. It thaws slowly and he must reheat longer.

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I normally reheat a thawed indiviudalized portion at 50 percent power for 2 minutes until hot. Check your power level on your microwave to adust your setting to 5. This enables the food to heat slowly and more evenly. Cook on high an additional minute. Also cutting a dense entree, like lasagna or baked spaghtetti, into four squares prior to heating allows it to heat more evenly.

I don’t recommend keeping these portions for over four to six weeks because of the headspace between the food and lid. Varying amounts of freezer burn will develop. The cooler the food, the less moisture you will have and less freezer burn.

Tip: For longer storage with less freezer burn, you can lay a piece of wax paper on top of the entree and then cover with the lid. I prefer pyrex or glass for freezing and reheating or removing food from gladware or ziploc plastic bowls before reheating.

Rather than wasting an uneaten casserole or getting tired of it, plan accordingly and freeze into individualized poritons. Your pocketbook will thank you and so will your taste buds a week or two later.

This method of freezing works well for singles or small households. But it also works well for large families wanting to lower lunch costs.

Have you tried this method of freezing? Perhaps you could send a single portion to a shut-in or single in your neighborhood.

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