Note from Naturally Loriel: I’m taking some time off to enjoy my sweet newborn but I’ve lined up some amazing guest posts from some of my favorite bloggers while I’m away. Today’s guest post comes from one of my best friends Tara of We Got Real.
Tara is the expert on frugality (have you seen her frugal meal plans where she shows you how to feed a family of four for $80 a week!?), homemaking, and ALWAYS has the easiest, most delicious recipes ever. My favorite is her Potato Soup and Salmon Patties… oh, and her Homemade Easy Buns that can also be made into dinner rolls (SO good).
She has also written a fabulous ebook called Eat Well, Spend Less. You can read my review of her book, here.
Thank you Tara!
Freezer cooking is a smart way to have emergency food on hand for when life happens. Maybe there is a new baby on the way. Maybe schedules will be busy in the upcoming month and you want to get a head start on dinner. Maybe you need to take a meal to a family in need. Maybe you just can’t deal with the thought of cooking after the week you’ve had. You never know when you will need a meal ready to go, and freezer cooking is a wonderful solution to avoiding the drive through and carryout.
Growing up, my mother was a working mother, but was pretty adamant that we have a hot breakfast every morning, so on the weekend she would make sausage biscuits, English muffin sandwiches, and breakfast burritos for us to reheat in the morning before school. Brilliant! Because of this, I often use the same method in my home.
I heavily use my freezer in my home. Bread, meat, fruit for smoothies, make ahead breakfasts, sauces, garden produce, pre-cooked dried beans, and entire dinner entrees are regular items that you will often find in my freezer.
The hard part where many people struggle is how to reheat frozen food so that it is convenient and you are not left with a brick of a casserole at 6:30 that needed to be on the table thirty minutes ago, or bread slice that you are chiseling with an ice pick to break free for lunch.
In both of these cases, a little forethought goes a long way. Here are my 3 best tips for reheating frozen foods.
Thaw in fridge the night before or morning of
This one simple step can make a huge difference. If you can just remember to transfer that casserole, breakfast sandwich, bag of soup, etc to the refrigerator the night before or morning of for dinner, it will make reheating so much easier!
You can then simply heat as you normally would anything else. Pour the bag of soup in a pot and gently bring to a simmer. Bake the casserole as the normal instructions are for the recipe. Pop the pre-cooked breakfast item in the oven, toaster oven, or microwave (if you use one) to gently heat through. It will only take a few minutes if the item is already thawed. It sure beats dealing with the brick.
Package for convenient removal and cooking
Good packaging goes a long way as well. For bread, unless you will use the entire loaf within a couple of days, pre-slice homemade bread and package in smaller amounts so that you can thaw just a small portion on the counter. If you want warm bread, wrap it and pop it in the oven for a few minutes to refresh.
Alternatively, you could slice the entire loaf and place wax paper in between the slices if you want to only grab a few slices at a time.
If you want the entire fresh loaf, thaw as long as possible on the counter, wrap, and bake. Then slice as you go instead of slicing the entire loaf to keep it from going stale as fast by exposing it to less air.
Also when freezing multiple items together (muffins for example), it is helpful to flash freeze them separately first before placing them in the same container. This prevents them from sticking together, so that they are easier to remove individually.
When freezing breakfast sandwiches or burritos, I find it helpful to wrap them individually in wax or parchment paper, then in foil, and then finally in a freezer bag. Then they can be easily removed and transferred to the fridge to thaw the night before, removed from the packaging, wrapped back in foil and reheated in the oven while getting ready in the morning.
Bake a little longer
I get it. Sometimes the brain cells just aren’t firing very quickly, and you simply forget to do even something simple like putting a bag of frozen food in the fridge. If all else fails and you have forgotten to thaw your dish, you can still place everything in the oven, but you will need to bake it longer. It is difficult to say how much longer, but an instant read thermometer is helpful to see when the casserole reaches 165 degrees F in temperature. It may take 30-60 minutes longer to reheat from frozen. It is also best to leave it covered so the top does not burn.
I hope this helps give you a little more confidence on reheating frozen food. Stocking a freezer with healthy delicious food really is a smart and economical way to cook to keep emergency food on hand.
What about you? How often do you make ahead food and freeze?
Tara is a stay at home mom of two children, a wife, and follower of Jesus. Her passions lie in teaching others about real food, non-toxic living, and all things homemade, while challenging the idea of the “picture perfect” mother. Visit her blog, We Got Real, or connect with her on Facebook.