Thursday, June 11, 2015

DIY Frozen TV Dinners

Growing up, mom and dad did a pretty good job making sure we had nutritious, well-rounded meals each day. Most were cooked from scratch, but not always. I vividly remember my little brother throwing a fit because he wanted boxed macaroni and cheese for dinner every.single.night. I'm sure we even had the occasional TV dinner.

There's something so tempting about those small packages you find in the frozen section of your grocery store. I know when our oldest was little we relied on the chicken nugget kind for her dinner occasionally.  They're cheap, convenient and for whatever reason, she loved it. I cringe when I think of feeding them to her. But hey, no one is perfect.

With my love of freezer cooking and always trying to make meal times easier for our busy family, the idea of these meals popped in my head about a month ago. I can get the same benefits from any other frozen meal but actually taste good and be good for me.

I thought these would be great choices for lunch, especially if reheated in the microwave at work. Or if I have some different options, dinner time can be a little more fun. Everyone can choose their own meal and we'll reheat in the oven.

Your choices are unlimited and that's what is nice. I went with a ham ball dinner for my first option, complete with mashed potatoes and broccoli. You can offer a salad or maybe fruit to complete your meal. Next on my plan is to create a chicken strip with macaroni cheese type of dinner, I think this particular one will appeal to most children.

As far as assembly goes; you have some choices. You can use microwave safe divided containers. Or you can purchase small foil pans to reheat in the oven. Because I'm goofy and don't like my food touching and to make them look authentic, I found some cardboard scraps laying around the house, cut them down to the correct size I needed for my pans and covered them with foil. You can certainly just place your portion sizes right inside the foil pan though.

I went back and forth as to whether I would use fresh veggies that I blanched, but in the end for time's sake just went with frozen. Again, you can use whatever works best for you and your family. I honestly didn't spend long at all putting these together one morning. The ham balls are so easy to mix up and I let the potatoes boil while those baked in the oven. I was able to add 5 dinners to our freezer plus left a decent amount of ham balls out for us to enjoy for lunch that day.

Which type of meal would you add to your freezer stash first? Let me know in the comments below!

DIY Frozen TV Dinners

Supplies needed:
Cardboard (optional)
Choice of pan or containers
Main dish and 2 sides
Marker for labeling meals


1) First you'll need to choose your main dish, some good options might include: grilled chicken, meatloaf, chicken strips or ham balls.

2) Choose two sides: mashed potatoes, twice baked potato, broccoli, green beans, corn, peas or macaroni and cheese.

3) After your food is all prepared ( I wouldn't worry about cooking any frozen veggies, just add them directly to your pans) you will want to have your containers ready to go. If you're making the foil dividers; cut your cardboard down to the correct size so they fit right into your pan. The cardboard doesn't have to be real thick. Cover those with foil and place into the pans.

4) Portion out your meals into each container. Let all food cool completely before covering. If you don't have lids, make sure to cover with saran wrap and then foil to eliminate any freezer burn. Using a marker, make sure to label your meals with the contents and date.

5) Store meals in freezer until ready to use. When you want to reheat one, let thaw overnight in fridge, preferably. Then you can either reheat in oven or microwave depending on which type of container you've used. Meals should keep in freezer for up to 3-4 months.

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