The big day is almost here, and I’m already thinking about leftovers.
Considering the fact that Americans throw out about forty percent of the food they purchase, we’d save a lot of money and perfectly good food by thinking ahead about dishes we can make using the leftovers (or the leftovers themselves) that freeze well.
Two new books aim to help you do just that. Life As Mom blogger Jessica Fisher’s first book, “Not Your Mother’s Make-Ahead and Freeze Cookbook,” (The Harvard Common Press, $16.95) chronicles her effort to feed her famly of eight on an $800-a-month food budget by buying in bulk and preparing meals ahead of time, and Southern Living editors compiled tips and their best freezer recipes for their new (and oddly titled) book “Southern Living Fix It & Freeze It Heat It & Eat It” (Oxmoor House, $19.95).
Some Thanksgiving-related takeaways from the books:
The faster you can cool and freeze any food, the better the quality when you reheat it. Use high-quality freezer bags and try to squeeze out as much extra air as you can to prevent freezer burn.
If you’re making turkey stock, freeze the liquid in small batches and, if you’re using plastic bags, lay them flat so you can stack them on top of one another. (Try making the stock in a slow cooker this year. As soon as the dinner is over, place carcass and bones, along with a quartered onion, a few celery sticks and enough water to cover them, in a slow cooker and cook on low overnight.)
Sliced turkey will stay good in the freezer for up to nine months, but casseroles should be eaten within two to three months. To avoid having a freezer full of all your favorite baking dishes, you can line your casserole dish with foil, freeze the prepared casserole in its dish and then use the foil to help pull the frozen rectangle or square out. Place the frozen food into a large freezer bag, and when you’re ready to reheat it, place back in original dish.
Freeze rolls in a single layer on a cookie sheet and then place in an airtight container or freezer bag.
Instead of trying to eat that extra pecan or pumpkin pie before it goes bad, you can cover it tightly with foil and freeze it for about a month. Let it thaw in the fridge and then reheat in the oven. (Some bakingware can handle the swift temperature change from freezer to hot oven, so proceed carefully if you do decide to reheat your food that way.)