Making TV Dinners 101
“We are all very busy with work and family, and sometimes don’t have time to cook. Frozen dinners are expensive and not as nutritious as homemade entrees. Eating out, even for one, is expensive and gets old after a while. How can we remedy this?
Cook in quantity and freeze your own meals!
Businesses have sprung up around the country doing just this. For a price, you can join other people for a day, cook a few meals and freeze in family, or individual-sized containers. For a smaller price, you can do this at home. It might even be fun to invite a friend or two to join.
If you have any recipes you and your family like, set aside a day to jump in and cook for the month. Check the grocery ads the week before and your pantry as well. Make a list of things you need and make sure you have containers for the meals. Planning makes a big difference. You can do this on as big or small a scale as you wish. If you do have friends joining you, you can share with each other and try new dishes, adding variety to your family dinners.
Starting small is okay – one large pot of chili on a Saturday can be frozen into many meals for the family – and ease the stress we have when dinnertime comes. If your family likes lasagna, how about making a double batch? You can easily freeze in portions to fit your family. Sunday dinner can be doubled and frozen for later use. Can you see that this can be beneficial to your sanity? Imagine not having to worry about what to have for dinner after a long day at work or play…
This cook and freeze technique is also good for people who have only one or two in the household – instead of cooking smaller dinners, keep cooking for a family and freeze the left-overs. These are great to take to work for lunches and/or for after work dinners. And you don’t have to fuss with halving recipes.
A couple food safety tips to remember when cooking large quantities of food and storing for later:
Divide large quantities of soup or casseroles for freezing into shallow containers for quick cooking.
Be sure to place food in the refrigerator or freezer for storage within two hours.
Add a label with a discard by date so you can rotate through your stock of dinners before the food loses quality. (I keep a pen and masking tape in my plastic container drawer just for this purpose!)
Foodsafety. Gov recommends that these “TV dinners” be used within three months of freezing.
Enjoy the delicious dinner you made earlier in the month as well as the gift of time!”
… Jane Hart, Michigan State University Extension
Inner Chef Note: You can purchase divided freezer-proof containers at your local restaurant supply store or places like Gordon’s Food Service. Make sure that they have lids that seal tight!