Has anyone else ever heard of once-a-month cooking? I think I first learned about it when I took home economics (what was that? 10th grade -- 6 years ago?!? ayyy, I'm getting old, LOL!). I've always been interested in the idea, but at the moment, it's just not feasible for us -- we don't have nearly enough freezer space. Plus, as much as I enjoy cooking... allllllll day? I just don't think I could handle it! I have heard of some modifications though (look for the post entitled "Dinner's in the Freezer!"), and I think I'm warming up to the idea. I've decided to make some modifications to the modification, LOL, and it has worked thus far.
A few weeks ago, I was making Tater Tot Casserole for dinner (see below for recipe). Since it is just me and Nathan around here (well, for now :P), I usually cut recipes in half. As a family of 2 1/2 (we're not exactly 2, but not quite 3 yet, so 2 1/2 sounded like a good number, lol), making entire meals with servings for 4-6 people just doesn't work! We are stuck with the leftovers for a week, and I end up throwing it out because I'm so sick of eating the same thing! Usually, halving is a good idea... Sometimes, though, I put myself into a horrible situation when I try this. I mean, what do you make with half a can of cream of celery? Or half a can of green beans, etc? I can't stand to throw things out, so I wrap my canned goods, place them in the fridge, and have every intention of using them... only they sit in the fridge so long that bad things start to happen, LOL! ;o)
I finally read that article (linked above from YLCF), and decided to give Gretchen's idea a try. Now when I make tater-tot casserole, I don't halve the recipe; I make it as directed. Instead of placing the mixture into a 13x9" dish, I spoon half into an 8x8 and pop that into the oven. Then, I line a separate 8x8 with foil, spoon in my mixture, seal it up, and freeze. Once the casserole has hardened enough, I lift the food out of the dish (I don't have enough pans to just let them sit in the freezer), wrap it once more, mark baking temperatures and times with a sharpie, and pop it back into the freezer. Voila! All I have to do is pull the casserole from the freezer, unwrap, drop it in an 8x8, and let it thaw for most of the day. Dinner is a cinch and clean-up is quick! Plus, no more half-filled cans lying around my refrigerator! Good-bye wasted leftovers! Hello stress-free dinners! :o)
For now, when I bake one and freeze the other, I can only do one or two casseroles at a time, as my freezer is definitely filled already! Once we head back to the States (wow, do we really have less than 6 months here?), I want to save up to buy a second freezer. Then I can really begin cooking for an army in earnest. I am getting more and more excited about this idea, and I can't wait to see how it works once I'm doing this on a regular basis! I know it will be especially helpful with a newborn in the house...
I'll leave you with my mom's recipe for Tater Tot Casserole.
1 lb. ground beef, browned and drained
1 can green beans, drained
1 can whole kernel corn, drained
1 pkg frozen tater tots
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of celery soup
Combine beef, green beans, and corn; put in bottom of 13x9" dish. Arrange tater tots in a single layer over meat and veggies. Mix soups together and spread over top (use spoon/spatula to get soup to all 4 corners). Bake in 350' oven for 40-50 mins.
**Personally, I think it's one of the best casseroles I've ever had. Plus, it's quick and easy. What's not to love about it? I usually serve this dish with rolls/bread, and sometimes a light salad. It pretty much covers all of the necessary food groups without any sides, though, so it's a good one-dish meal.**