Need to adjust to being an empty nester...

nekotish

We were a family of four (well, we still are but kids have moved out), now it is just my husband and I and I am not doing well at cooking for two. My husband loves casseroles in the winter; pastitsio, enchildada casserole, lasagna etc. We have this type of thing once a week or so and I try to do a lean protein and lots of veg in between - compromise is the name of the game. I am looking for dishes that will hold 1/4 or 1/3 of a 9"x13" pan and go from freezer to oven (can cetainly let them get to room temp before baking) So something with an airtight lid than I can put in the freezer and reheat/finish cooking in the same dish. The lid doesn't have to be oven proof. Any suggestions?

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Elizabeth

Corningware. I prefer vintage

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nekotish

Thanks Elizabeth, where do you get vintage Corningware? Ebay, thrift stores?

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plllog

An alternative would be to chill your casserole, covered with foil or plastic wrap if you don't have a lid. Cut it into the portions you prefer, sliding them over a bit, the recover and freeze through. Once it's hard frozen, you can wrap tightly in plastic or freezer paper or parchment, and vacuum seal or just pop into a freezer bag. This takes fewer dishes, a lot less freezer space, no worries about heat shock cracking the dish, or other freeze breakage, and makes it easier when you have to store clean dishes. I do get the appeal of freezer to oven, but I've never gotten it to work well for me.

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lindac92

I have a vintage Fire King casserole that is about half of an 8 by 10 It's trimmed in gold so it can't go into the micro. Don't remember where I got it, likely in a box of stuff at an auction, but I treat it with extreme care!!
I suggest resale stores, garage sales or eBay....but that will cost more!

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annie1992

I get my vintage Corningware, FireKing and Pyrex at the local on-line auction or at second hand stores. I have a cabinet full and use them all the time, but I don't put keep them in the freezer.

My favorite small casserole dishes are white, square Corningware with a cornflower pattern and with glass lids, I have small ones that hold about a cup and bigger ones that hold 4 cups. I line the dishes with parchment leaving a little overhang so I can remove the frozen portions. I put the dish in the freezer until the contents are cold, then remove the contents and put them in Ziplock bags and stack them up. When I want to reheat I remove the food from the bag and plop it back into the casserole I froze it in, perfect fit. Thaw and bake.

This way I can freeze multiple casseroles but not have to buy the casserole dishes, one dish can be used for a stack of meals.

Annie

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nekotish

Thanks Pllog and Annie for steering me in a different direction. I think I could line a few of my 9"x5" loaf pans with parchment and freeze portions of a casserole in those. Pop them out when frozen. I read once about making lasagna for two in a loaf pan but had forgotten all about it. No I don't have to buy something new. Thanks!

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desertsteph

I read once about making lasagna for two in a loaf pan but had forgotten all about it.

years back Pioneer Woman had that on her website. She made up little 'lasgana pans' to freeze and take to her gma (or maybe it was Ladd's parents). She made them in those tiny disposable aluminum loaf pans. I remember thinking that I should do that for myself. haven't done it yet but did buy some of those 'pans' to use. I have everything I need to make some up just haven't done it yet.

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sleevendog (5a NY 6aNYC NL CA)

I have a set of these I use for a seeded brown bread recipe. I gave my parents the same set...

Like mentioned similarly above, I keep my vast array and sizes of casserole choices out of the freezer. Did that once being lazy and kept looking for it. I just make my usual large lasagna, let it chill and firm up, line the mini loaf pans with parchment, then fill with portions, press down, and freeze. pop out when frozen and food saver. Out of the freezer I thaw in the pans. Mom can do the same and re-heat in her toaster oven. Easy to clean the food saver bags for re-use because it goes in the bag frozen and out frozen. Wrapped in parchment. Works for any casserole type thing or even beef stew. Frozen with a fresh bit of pastry/puff pastry on top.

I did invest in a few different single serving ceramic, and a pair of stainless. I can do the same with those. Just took my time finding at thrifts. I looked for matched pairs, oven safe, and slightly flared sides. Nice enough to got straight to the table.

Could also use a 1/4 sheet pan if the sides are a bit high. I have a favorite from an old broken toaster oven. Saved the rack as well. I've done leftover chicken/grain/veg/gravy. Thaws quick being wide and flat. Probably smaller than a 1/4 sheet because it fits in the larger food saver bags.

My parents have no idea what a food saver is. 😂. They are so baffled by the thickness of the bags and the tight seal. (she saves them)



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nekotish

Made a 9x13 of pastitsio last night. Served 3 portions as DD swung by to "pick up takeout" and divided the rest in 1/2 into two loaf pans. Froze and will pop out of pans and rewrap today for longer freezing.

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l pinkmountain

I use Anchor Hocking type stuff or Corningware, but also often just freeze in two portion plastic freezer containers, or used Chinese takeout plastic containers. We used to get Chinese quite often when we lived out east, but lately my freezing is done in plastic that I get at the mart marts. I smoosh thing around a lot in the freezer so the glass stuff is not as practical for that. But I still have quite a few in rotation . . .

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nancyjane_gardener

I've been using a foodsaver for years! I would make large portions of soups, casseroles and other dishes and freeze for my widowed FIL. He loved it!

I still do it for hubby and myself.

For soups or liquidy stuff, fill the bag about 1/2 full, lay it in a baking dish while folding a few inches up to stay dry. Freeze, then vac the bag. You need about 3" of clean bag a the top in order to vacuum it properly.

These become slabs and are easily stacked in the freezer.

We get lazy once or twice a week and go to the freezer for a home cooked surprise!

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wednesday morning

Our kids have been grown and gone to their own homes for years now.

My meal prep changed drastically after they left home and they would hardly recognize the dinner table anymore.

I cook what I like to refer to as "bistro style". I keep it simple with an eye towards nutritional balance and I aim for quality over quantity. I serve dinner mostly plated, as opposed to serving bowls. I like to make an attractive presentation and we now use smaller salad plates as dinner plates.


As time has gone on I have managed to simplify my kitchen and I can now prepare dinner and have the mess cleaned up before we even sit down to eat.

It seems that I prepare enough dinner for three. We each have dinner and HE has lunch the next day. I didn't do this intentionally. It just seems to have grown organically into what I do.


It took some time to tailor the meals down to just the two of us. I dont much like freezing too many things. I prefer the approach of making a larger quantity of something basic that can then be tweaked to become a different meal for more than one day. Most things, to me, are more enjoyable if left two days in the fridge rather than two weeks in the freezer. Some things lose a substantial appeal when they defrost, depending.

Roasted meat is one thing that I find distasteful if it is frozen. Meat that is stewed and then frozen in it's broth keeps much better. It has been my experience that anything thickened with corn starch does not defrost well.

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nancyjane_gardener

Oh yeah, my foodsaver meals have become lifesavers for my daughter and her wife since the arrival of the twins!


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wednesday morning

I bought. my food saver with the intention of supplying easy meals to my daughter and her family. But the reality is taht we just live too far away to be at all consistent with it. I do take them some things when we go. It is about an hour away. Now we go very infrequently because of what is going on.

I think that I have probably used the jar sealing ability somewhat more than the bag sealer. If mine goes out, I might not replace it, but might prefer to just get a jar sealer instead.

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