Another set of Holidays is fast approaching and many of us will be making large family dinners again. This past December when we celebrated, many friends reported to me that they’d made far too much food and had “tons of ham, lamb, and turkey leftovers.” This can happen to any of us and not just at holidays. Family birthdays and getting together with friends can also be a source of too many leftovers. It sure happened to me at Christmas and now with Easter coming, I am prepared for the avalanche of leftovers!
Maybe these ideas will help you deal with all your leftovers as well. Today we will consider TV Dinners and next week, we’ll look at “MIX and MATCH meals”!
TV Dinners: Large meals prepared with the idea of many relatives and friends joining you for the holiday is a prime time to think about TV dinners. And when it isn’t a holiday, cooking for one or two people isn’t much fun so I tend to make food for the “family” and then freeze the remaining portions for future meals! Besides, the “dinner for one” meals in most grocery aisles are mainly pasta. I can buy larger trays of fresh meat at a lower cost and then use them to make nutritious, less costly frozen TV Dinners.
When I was a kid, my mom would save aluminum food trays. She’d even ask her friends to save them for her. Today you can actually buy these trays for 1 usage or as reusable trays. These each typically had 4 spots in them. Some had 5 with one of those for desserts; but, I prefer the 4 spot trays. Nowadays you can buy those kind of trays! And in a pinch, I use the rectangular black plastic dishes that most Chinese take-out restaurants use. They can even be put into your dishwaster although not in recycling. So why not give them a more useful life.
Mom made TV dinners so she’d have a quick, healthy meal for us kids when Dad was working the afternoon shift and wouldn’t be home for dinner. In one spot would go mashed potatoes with gravy; in the next, slices of meat sometimes with gravy on them as well. The two others were typically used for vegetables. My sister and I helped prep the cooked food to use as individual servings and then formed an assembly line in the kitchen to fill the dinner trays. Once they were filled, we’d simply wrap them in tin foil, label them with a date and the contents, and place them in stacks in the freezer. Sometimes I got to make the labels by writing on masking tape. Here are some examples of meals that we’d build and freeze:
- Turkey slices, mashed potatoes with gravy, stuffing, and green beans (or corn or peas or mixed veggies.)
- Ham slices topped with a slice of pineapple, scalloped potatoes, roasted Brussel sprouts, and a mix of carrots and peas.
- Chicken pieces, mashed potatoes with gravy, green beans, and a mix of cauliflower & broccoli.
Enjoy your larger family meals and make great use of the leftovers for healthy, less expensive meals in the following months!
Note: This article is part of a series on Freezing Foods. Below are links to other articles in this series.
- Too Many Vegetables from your Garden? Read this article.
- More Veggies to Freeze. Read the article.
- What else can you freeze? Baked Goods! Read the article.
- Cooking with Intent to Freeze: Read the article.
Article by Doreen Coyne, a member of Richmond Hill Garden & Horticultural Society. Photos from Amazon.ca shipping browser.