Looking for some time-saving and easy recipes? Try one dish meals that can be made ahead of time and stored in the freezer.
Tips for preparing and storing food in the freezer
- Bake your frozen one dish meal slightly longer than one that’s baked immediately after being prepared. Most need an additional 10 to 15 minutes, but it’s a good idea to check the dish during baking time and adjust the time accordingly.
- Casseroles may be frozen before or after they are baked.
- Recipes with a low-fat sauce or condensed soup base usually freeze well.
- If a recipe calls for sour cream, add it after thawing and reheating the dish.
- Crisp toppings, such as nuts, crushed chips or bacon bits, should be added after the dish is thawed.
- Fresh potatoes do not freeze well. Some dairy products, such as sour cream, half-and-half, and ricotta and cottage cheese, are also not recommended for freezing.
- To make sure meats, vegetables, pastas and grains don’t overcook when reheated, cook them just until tender the first time around.
- Cool foods before placing them in the freezer.
- Store foods at 0°F or colder.
- Freeze food in sizes that are suitable for your family. Individual sizes are a good idea, as is enough for one family meal.
- Use airtight containers that can go in the microwave or can go directly from the freezer to the oven.
- For best quality, use frozen casseroles within three months.
Food Reheating in the Microwave — Zap It!
A microwave is a quick and easy way to reheat one dish meals. For food safety reasons, bring the internal temperature to 140°F. Use an instant-read thermometer to determine whether the food is hot enough at its center. Don’t leave the thermometer in the food while microwave heating; use it to check the temperature only after reheating.
Here are a few food reheating tips:
- Moist foods reheat best, and covering foods will allow for faster and more even heating. Pizzas and other crisp or crunchy foods reheat best when heated on a browning dish or a microwave rack, so the bottom doesn’t get soggy.
- Tightly cover your casserole with microwavable plastic food wrap to speed reheating. Fold back a corner or cut a few slits in the plastic wrap to vent the steam. Stir or rotate the casserole once or twice during reheating. For casseroles that can’t be stirred, such as lasagna, allow some standing time to let the heat equalize throughout the food.
- Small, individual servings heat more quickly than full recipes because the microwave can penetrate the food more deeply and heat the center more quickly.
- Avoid overcooking by heating casseroles with eggs, cheese or large chunks of meat at a lower power setting.