Friday, September 4, 2009

Day 5: Getting Ahead

"Now that's a lot of food," my husband said to me last night, commenting about the large stock pot full of beefy noodle casserole filling, and probably wondering if there was some kind of dinner party I hadn't warned him of, or perhaps a global disaster I was prophetically preparing for.

"I know." I said. "Good thing we aren't eating all of this tonight."
I then explained to him that earlier in the day, at Mrs. Marple's, we had talked about the efficiency of doubling recipes and freezing half for later. She encouraged us to pick a recipe from our meal plan and get two of everything we need for it at the store.

So I chose this beef & cheese noodle bake and stocked up on the supplies.

While I was getting things started with the onion and garlic (don't all good things seem to start with onion and garlic?), I was thinking about how it is true that cooking a double recipe is really the same amount of work as cooking a single one.

I considered that by adding a little extra planning, I would get to enjoy this meal sometime in the future with hardly any work at all. (**note: slightly undercook pasta that you intend to freeze so it won't get too mushy @ defrost time.)

This is the first time trying this recipe, so I was curious to see how it would turn out.

I had good first impressions with the flavor and smell, and definitely could appreciate the added veggies (designed, I think, to appeal to kids and adults alike).

I've learned from freezing things in the past, though, that not everything defrosts well. Like cheese sauce, for instance. So I decided to stop short of making the sauce and prepped & measured the cheddar instead. I'll just whip up the sauce in minutes when we eat this dish again.

I divided the casserole filling and stored half of it away in a gallon freezer bag.

Then I just stapled the cheese right to the filling. I don't want them getting separated in the freezer and end up with a cheddar-less casserole down the road.

After quickly writing a label (sometimes I even write cooking instructions like "bake at 350 for an hour" on top, too), it was ready for the freezer.

We have a small deep freezer in the garage which helps tremendously when I want to store away food for the future.
But Mrs. Marple reminded us that even a well-organized refrigerator freezer could hold at least a few pre-made meals.

She encouraged us to try to pick a recipe a week to double and then freeze. It would be nice, I thought, for those nights when I don't feel like cooking anything. Sorta like takeout, only from my freezer.

Tomorrow she is going to talk about some of the other benefits of having pre-made meals, so I'm looking forward to that. And yes--I know it's a Saturday, so if you can't make it, that's alright. I'll take good notes and you can catch up next week.

Have a good weekend!

Previous Related Posts:
Cooking Mania, and why it's helping me be more intentional
My Feet Hurt, and other tales from my cooking extravaganza
Cooking Extravaganza: the Details

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