Dinner Diva | How do I thaw?

I get e-mails from time to time on my website, www.savingdinner.com. Leslie from Minnesota asked a question that I thought I would answer, especially since stocking your freezer by doubling up on your cooking is just plain smart. The reasoning behind such a notion would be to keep your family in dinners for the holidays. And while SavingDinner.com has another solution to that “what’s for dinner” question (check out our Five for the Freezer and other dinner kit menus for the freezer) it’s always a good idea to have something stashed in the freezer for dinner.

“Would Leanne please offer some tips on thawing and re-heating frozen casseroles? If I take things out the night before, then they are often still partially frozen the next afternoon.” Leslie goes on to ask if she should microwave it, add water, etc.

The answer to these questions is simple: it depends. LOL…yeah, I know, that’s not the answer you were looking for! But it really depends on the size, the type and just how cooked your casserole was. Usually, microwaving, water and such aren’t necessary.

For example—if I had a pasta casserole that was fully cooked (though pasta should be quite al dente so it won’t be overcooked at the end), I’d defrost it overnight in the fridge (and the casserole in question can be housed in either a pyrex-type casserole dish OR, you could line a casserole dish with foil, making sure the foil overhangs plenty, freeze the casserole for about two hours, then pop it out of the dish and double bag it in a freezer ziplock, peeling the foil off the frozen casserole and disposing of it).

Once your casserole has been defrosted overnight in the fridge, simply cover it with foil (don’t worry if it isn’t thawed all the way) then bake it (preheated to 350 degrees) for approximately double the cooking time it originally called for. That said, it would be wise to double-check it as it is reheating again! I’ve had this backfire on me before and burned it. That is the general rule, but do check on your casserole midway through cooking before going all the way with the double cooking time.

My favorite way of dealing with frozen meals though, is meals that are assembled, frozen, then cooked, not cooked, frozen and reheated. That way you eat fresh meals, not reheated stuff.

No matter how you handle the frozen food equation in your house, it always helps to have a stash of ready to go dinners in the freezer!


For more help putting dinner on your table, check out Leanne’s website, www.SavingDinner.com, or her Saving Dinner book series (Ballantine) and her New York Times bestselling book Body Clutter (Fireside). Copyright 2009 Leanne Ely. Used by permission in this publication.



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