Dinner’s In The Freezer

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I’ve always thought it was a great idea to make dinners for the freezer.  But, really, I have only done that for two reasons: 1) So that I have a few meals for my post-partum lying-in.  Or 2) When I will be out of town for a few days or weeks and I don’t want Gana and the kids to live off fast food and cold cereal.

One of my “issues” with putting meals in the freezer has been those disposable aluminum pans:

First of all, they are pricey!  Target has a small disposable aluminum pan for 4.99 each.  Party City has a large one for 2.99.  Still that adds quite a chunk to my food budget if I’m going to pay $3 – $5 for something I’m just going to throw away!

Secondly, they take up a lot of freezer space.  Recently we were able to purchase a large upright deep freeze used from friends who were moving.  Before then I had to rely on my small freezer.  There’s only so many of those pans you can stack in a small freezer.

Thirdly, it pains me to buy disposable things.  Seriously.  We use cloth diapers, cloth napkins and cloth towels.  As I don’t buy paper towels, paper napkins, nor diapers, it just kills me to buy disposable pans.  I even try to reuse the zipper bags I use in the kitchen! I know I could try to reuse the pans, but they just never seem to hold up that well.  After a round of prepping, freezing, cooking and cutting/serving, usually they are pretty well done.

The environmental impact of all we throw away is astounding.  Take plastic water bottles for example: two million plastic water bottles are used every five minutes in the U.S.  I just find that ridiculous. I stopped buying plastic water bottles or individually bottled drinks a long time ago.  So, I can’t imagine just throwing away pans all the time.  Did you know that it takes aluminum 500 years to break down in the environment?  That’s a lot of landfill space we’re filling up!  (source: here)

” The land is mine and you are but aliens and my tenants. Throughout the country that you hold as a possession, you must provide for the redemption of the land.”

Lev. 25:23-24.

Fourthly, aluminum is not good for your health!  Dr. Mercola writes, “As with the other elements, aluminum is absorbed and accumulated in the body, and has been linked to serious illnesses including osteoporosis, extreme nervousness, anemia, headache, decreased liver and kidney function, forgetfulness, speech disturbances and memory loss.”  Of course cookware is not the most nor the worst source of aluminum, but why risk it?

And finally, aluminum can sometimes taint the taste of food, especially if it is acidic–such as a tomato based dish.

I want to store meals, but don’t want to use disposable pans.  So, what is a girl to do?  Ask Kristina, of course!  She gave me the following great idea:

Start with my regular glass pan:

Line it with parchment paper, allowing just enough overhang to have something to grab later:

Build the meal inside and freeze just like that:

When the casserole is completely frozen solid lift out of pan by the parchment paper and peal it off:

Pop into a labeled 2-gallon zipper bag:

Voila! A lasagna cube.

Three Cheese Macaroni with truffle oil

Tuna Fish Pie with Cheddar Rolls

Then you can line up those meals like books in your freezer!  Saves so much room!

When I’m ready to cook these, I can pop them right back into my regular baking pans, defrost and bake as usual!  It pays to have brilliant friends.

(Linked to Carnival of Home Preserving.)

  1. lauraw68 - June 8, 2012

    Thanks for linking up at the Carnival of Home Preserving! There’s a button you can use on my blog that is to the carnival or you can add a link to the carnival in your post.

  2. i kinda thought of doing something like that since we have ONE individual size soup container for hubby to take to work. I figured I’d freeze the soups in the container and pop it out and freeze more in the same container then he could pick what he wanted and reheat it in that container at work. NOW I know i should use something (maybe plastic wrap) to keep it off the container for easy “popping”. great tip!

    • Daja - April 4, 2012

      Great idea! David is blessed to have you sending him with healthy lunches to work!

  3. Micah - March 9, 2012

    I am struggling with this issue as well. For now I am buying 30 pans at a time at Sam’s Club for about $7. I plan in the long run to stock up on garage sale metal and glass pans that will become my freezer stash pans.

  4. I’m so glad that you are enjoying our journey along with us, Susan! God bless your move! May everything happen smoothly and may your new place feel like HOME from day one!

  5. You ladies are such an inspiration! We’re in the throes of moving, but after we settle in at our new house, I’ll be starting to stock dinners in my freezer. For many years, I’ve used the technique you describe to make fruit pie filling when the particular fruit is in season. I line a pie plate with plastic wrap, pour in the apple or boysenberry or peach pie filling, freeze it, then wrap it up well. But I never thought of doing the same for a main dish! Thanks for the great idea!

  6. Start going to garage sales and pick up a bunch of 13×9 pans. They might be cheaper than the disposable anyway, and you can tell the recipient to KEEP the pan or pass it along? BUT if you decide to buy pans buy them on Amazon in bulk. (I did this when I was making at least 2 meals a week for other families.)

    • That’s a good idea, Serena. Will have to keep our eyes peeled at yard sales.

  7. That is true. Good point.

    If you freeze the meal in a standard size pan, however, it would fit anyone’s pan. So, they could just as easily pop this 9×13 block into their pan to bake. So that might be a solution for some situations when you want to take someone a still frozen meal.

    Recently I sent that same mac-n-cheese with truffle oil pictured above to someone who needed a meal. I baked it off at my house and then carefully transferred it to a plastic container of the same size. I told them to just keep the plastic container. (Store brand Tupperware. I don’t know what to call it other than “plastic container.”) So, I suppose that might work with some meals. I don’t think it would work with lasagna, which becomes a deliciously cheesy gooey mess when cooked.

    So, perhaps one could keep a FEW disposable pans for the FEW occasions when that is simply the most practical.

    You bring up an excellent point, Lady Dorothy! I will be thinking on that.

  8. This is an excellent idea! However, one question. One of the reasons to have freezer meals is so you can provide meals for others. It is also so much easier for the recipient not to have to keep track of and return dishes and cookware, so disposable is handy. What then? How do you solve this weighty matter? 🙂

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