Using Planned-Overs: Frozen Dinners


Gabriel and friends cooked for our dinner/auction fundraiser.

It’s so easy to cook extra food and make individual frozen dinners I am surprised that more families do not do it. Last week Gabriel and friends volunteered to cook a Tex-Mex meal for our fundraiser. About one hundred enjoyed the evening but we cooked enough for 150. That makes for a lot of Spanish rice, pulled chicken, salad, chips and beans left over. Continue to see how we used them as unplanned-overs.

 Tip: A word of caution  before sharing the steps for creating individual frozen dinners. The food sitting out in the chafing dishes  for a while can not be reheated safely. The solution was to give it to the volunteers for compost and/or chicken feed and not to be used for meals.

Chips and tortillas were given to the Ferndale Food Bank. Cheese, black beans and salad mix went to the volunteers.

Here are the steps for using the rest of the food:

  • Gather and wash oven-proof, microwavable TV dinner containers.
  • Spread the chicken and rice in shallow trays & cool quickly over ice.
  • When cool, mix the rice, chicken, cheese, and salsa (we preferred to use turkey sauce in place of the salsa.)
  • Spoon the rice mix into the washed TV dinner containers.
  • Steam odds and ends of planned-over veggies, cool and spoon them into the trays.
  • Cover the tray with foil, attach a label and freeze.
  • To reheat, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place trays on the middle shelf for about 40 minutes.
  • When it reaches 165, take it out, rest it for 10 min and serve.

Do not use the microwave oven for recycled trays. The bacteria may not be killed in a microwave and the trays break down after the first use.

Cash and Carry or other restaurant suppliers usually carry earth friendly, microwavable trays.