Flavor tips for the well-stocked family freezer

January 15, 1992|By Nancy Byal | Nancy Byal,Better Homes and Gardens Magazine

When I get home a little later than expected, I still want a home-cooked meal, even though time is short. That's when I love having a made-ahead meal stashed away in my freezer. When I follow a few simple techniques, my family thinks these from-the-freezer dinners taste just like freshly made.

* To freeze a baked casserole, cool it completely, then wrap it in moisture- and vaporproof material, such as freezer paper or heavy aluminum foil, or seal it with a tight-fitting lid. The tight wrapping will prevent freezer burn.

* To freeze an unbaked casserole, line the baking dish with heavy foil three times the length of the dish. Center the foil, add the food, and cool. Bring the long sides together over the food. Fold down the foil, pressing air out until the foil is folded down next to the food. Fold down the shorter sides. Label, then lift the wrapped food from the dish and freeze. To serve, unwrap the frozen casserole and bake it in the original dish.

* Slightly undercook the vegetables that you plan to use. They will finish cooking when the casserole is heated.

* Use frozen casseroles within three months for best quality.

* For a baked one-quart casserole, allow 1 3/4 hours baking time in a 400-degree oven, or thaw the casserole in the refrigerator overnight and heat through. For a frozen unbaked casserole, bake until any meat is thoroughly cooked.

* Make quick breads in small loaf pans and freeze extras. Take out only as many loaves as you need for a meal.

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