Freezer Guide Q & A

I have been putting these off for too long, sorry for those whose questions I'm not getting answered until now.  I tried to answer all the questions in the Freezer Cooking Guide but some I wasn't able to, so I will go ahead and answer all of them now.

Q. When I go to cook a meal that's already been frozen, what's the procedure? Do I need to defrost for a period of time, or simply pop the frozen dish in the oven?

A.  Here is what I do: for meals that have any type of pasta, I do a quick-thaw, which is basically filling up a large bowl or the sink with room temperature water and placing the ziploc bag in the water for 10-20 minutes or until you can break it up and get it out of the bag.  Then, I put it on a skillet on the stove and heat it till very hot, constantly turning as it starts to melt even more.  This way helps to prevent soggy pasta, and heating it on the skillet also helps to make the noodles crispier.  I've done it the other way and let it thaw for hours in the fridge or counter and its a soggy mess.

For meals that are casserole dishes, I simply take them from the freezer and put them in a pre-heated oven and bake.  With spaghetti and pizza sauce, you can either thaw them in the fridge or counter and heat them on the stove or microwave or you can quick-thaw them in water and heat them up.

Meals such as BBQ Beef and other sandwich fillings, taco fillings or those that go with rice, I simply let them thaw on the counter or in the fridge most of the day.  Then I will heat them on the stove, in the oven or sometimes the microwave in a microwaveable-safe glass dish.  You will find that while they are thawing, the sauces really help marinade the meat.  The meatloaf, for us, is way better after its been frozen then before!

Q.  Can rice be cooked and froze in the freezer?  I would also like to start making meals for up to at least two months and one of my family's favorite side dishes is rice. I know it would be nothing to cook it that day that we eat it but if it can be cooked in big patches and froze and then popped in the microwave that I would love to try it.

A.  Yes it can though we prefer freshly cooked rice.  If you want to freeze rice, simply cook it and then let it cool and transfer to ziploc bags.  You can portion it out but you don't have to because rice is easy to break off, even when frozen.  Do the same with rice as you would with pasta, do a quick-thaw and then heat, although I would think you would need to add some water to the rice when re-heating.

Q.  will you be putting a 3-4 month menu of how you divided and eat your delicious dinners?
how much do you spend at the store for cooking 3-4 months of meals at one time?
do you have any leftovers? if so what do you do with them? 

A.  The guide I did was geared to once a month cooking and all I can offer right now to show how I do the 3-4 month freezer cooking is my posts under freezer cooking on this blog.  It is so strange how it works out but it is cheaper for me to cook 3 months of meals at once, than if I did 1 month, 3 months in a row.  I think its because I buy larger sizes of certain ingredients and it seems to cost less.  I average about $150 for what I need to cook 3 months of freezer meals.  That is from getting my meat on sale, usually buy one get one deals and purchasing a lot of my other items directly from a farm, thereby cutting out the "middle man" and saving money! ;-)  I portion out our meals to last for one meal, so we don't have leftovers.

Q.  i would love your recipe for granola bars.  I have been looking but can't seem to find it. 

A.  I use this recipe.