Creating your own TV dinners is easy and economical. These guidelines will help you get started.
Step 1: Know which foods freeze well Know which cooked foods freeze well. Rice, pasta, and bean dishes; stews; roasted, baked, or broiled meat and poultry; and vegetables all reheat nicely. Cooked fish can be frozen, but defrosting and reheating may affect the texture. Don't freeze fried foods, which can turn rancid when warmed up.
TIP: If you're preparing pasta, rice, or vegetables specifically for frozen dinners, undercook them a bit.
Step 2: Use the proper container Use the proper container. If you plan to microwave the meal, arrange the leftovers on a sturdy paper plate or microwaveable dish. For oven heating, use an aluminum pie plate. Don't mound food higher than an inch and a half or it won't reheat evenly.
TIP: If your vegetables are well-cooked, save them for soup and use frozen veggies topped with a pat of butter instead.
Step 3: Keep food moist Spoon a little sauce, gravy, oil, or butter on the food to help prevent freezer burn and keep it moist. If you're using a sectioned plate, add a dessert! Sliced cake, cupcakes, and cookies freeze and defrost well.
Step 4: Let food cool Let food cool before covering the plate with freezer-safe plastic wrap, forcing out as much air as possible. Then wrap it tightly with a couple of layers of heavy-duty aluminum foil, sealing the edges tightly.
Step 5: Label Label the meal with the contents and date before putting it in the freezer, where it will stay good up to four months.
Step 6: Reheat To reheat, remove the wrapping. If using a microwave, cover with a plastic dome or paper towels, with a corner turned back to allow steam to be released. Nuke on defrost for about eight minutes, and then on high for three to five. If reheating in the oven, cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes, then uncover and bake another 10 minutes.
Step 7: Enjoy Enjoy your homemade TV dinner! And keep experimenting until you have a few go-to frozen meals down to a science.
FACT: Frozen meals were first sold to consumers in 1949 under the One-Eyed Eskimo label, and were only sold in the Pittsburgh area.