Baking to Freeze: Introduction!

by Julie Ruble on July 23, 2009 · 9 comments

New babies are such a joyous occasion, but the stress of getting used to a new, totally dependent little person in your life is sure to be a bit overwhelming. I’m so excited for my friend, A., who is expecting her new little one any day now (I’m sure it’s a girl, though we don’t actually know yet). She’s already so organized and has been nesting for months, but I wanted to do something to help her through the first busy days. What better than to do something I love (baking!) to support her as she adds to her family? I decided to make and freeze some dinners (and dessert, of course) for her to pop in the oven after Baby comes.

I’ve always loved the idea of giving friends gifts of food. Beyond merely supplying a need, personal, handmade gifts of food also supply warmth and affection. Sitting down to a hot meal is always satisfying and pleasant, and even moreso when it also represents the bond of friendship. It’s an intimate way to share a tiny piece of the load your friends are carrying. It’s lovely to be able to do something to help, and I hope the food turned out lovely for her.

The first step of creating A.’s meals was scouring the internet for which dishes would freeze well, thawing and baking instructions, and packaging tips. After all that searching around, I thought it might be nice to create a “one-stop” post on Willow Bird Baking about creating frozen meals. Hopefully this will be helpful for those of you with expectant friends, new neighbors, or even friends going through times of grief. Using this post, you ought to be able to bake one (or both) of two freezer-friendly casseroles and a batch of frozen cookie dough, print labels/thawing instructions, and get tips on preparing products for the freezer.

Now, onto the food! I chose two lasagnas for my freezing escapade. One is a Mexican Lasagna, which folks joke is neither Mexican, nor a lasagna! It’s very easy to throw together. The other is a Classic Italian Lasagna, which is Italian and is lasagna, and is much more time consuming. It’s a labor of love. Which casserole you choose really depends on your goal: if you want a quick and easy recipe, choose the former, but if you enjoy making more complex recipes, choose the latter (or both). I personally hadn’t made a “real lasagna” before, so I wanted to give it a shot! Finally, I chose to make some cookie dough for a dessert, since it freezes very well. Martha Stewart’s Chunky Peanut, Chocolate, and Cinnamon Cookies sounded hearty and delicious. Because of the large quantities of food, I decided to keep half and give half. That way the baking does double duty, and A.’s freezer doesn’t get overbooked!


LOTS of food!

Click on the recipe below that you’re interested in baking (or baking to freeze!) to find the recipe, printable labels, and thawing instructions:

Recipe #1: Mexican Lasagna

Recipe #2: Classic Italian Lasagna

Recipe #3: Chunky Peanut Chocolate Cinnamon Cookies

Finally, here are some great tips for freezing casseroles, to which I would add the following:

  • Consider packaging: disposable baking dishes are a kindness, since they won’t need to be returned. Make sure all of the dishes you’re preparing will fit in the freezer when packaged and wrapped!
  • Label your meals: In addition to the name of the dish, include instructions on thawing/baking, a “date packaged” and “good until” date, and the recipes (this will allow friends to calculate nutrition information, peruse ingredients, and even make the dish again, if they wish). I’ve included PDF labels for each of the dishes below, so feel free to download and print them. The labels can be cut out and glued on 4×6 index cards to make them sturdier.
  • Wrap food better than you think you need to. Double layers of plastic wrap, pack things in ziplock bags, etc.
Print Friendly
Or you can share this post:
Facebook Twitter Pinterest Stumbleupon
This post is published on Willow Bird Baking. All rights reserved by Julie Ruble.

If you liked this post, please:
-Subscribe to Willow Bird Baking
-Follow Willow Bird Baking on Twitter
-Follow Willow Bird Baking on Facebook

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Amelia July 23, 2009 at 11:31 am

Julie, all I’ve got to say is, you rock! :)

Reply

Willow Bird Baking July 23, 2009 at 4:35 pm

I hope you still think so after tasting :D It was seriously so fun to make everything! Hope you enjoy!

Reply

Robin Williams July 25, 2009 at 1:38 pm

Hi,
I found your blog on Craig’s List. I am a retired teacher, writer and avid baker. I love to bake with my grandchildren. I tried to do the RSS feed twice but it wouldnt work. Would love to have the feed. Any helps?

I have also toyed with the idea of using my baking as a new income since I retired and would really love to do something I am passionate about. Any tips? I am in Concord. Robin

Reply

Julie July 26, 2009 at 12:33 am

Robin,

So good to hear from another baker (and so close by!). You know, I’m so new to RSS stuff that I’m not sure why it didn’t work. Here’s a link to the feed: feed://willowbirdbaking.wordpress.com/feed/.

I do have a lot of tips for you about baking as a home business! I’ve been researching it myself, so I have a lot of info on hand. As it turns out, in NC you can bake goods in a home kitchen to sell. All you need is to get it inspected by the NC Department of Agriculture (and I’ll forewarn you — you can’t have ANY indoor animals! Isn’t that a shame? I was going to cook at my sister’s condo for this reason). They’ll look for things like fridge temp, crevices where germs could hide, exposed light bulbs, unsafe proximity to bathroom without ventilation, etc. It all seemed very doable (I’ll forward you the instructions the NC Dept of Ag sent to me for what they check for).

If you want to sell on your own, you have to acquire a business license and a DBA (“Doing Business As” — basically, it’s says that YOU and ONLY YOU can operate under the name of your business). If you want to avoid all that, you can also apply (early — starts in around Feb) to sell at a Farmer’s Market. Then you operate under the FM’s business license, so that’s nice! FMs are usually quite competitive, though, from what I hear, and if you go the business license/DBA route, you can build up your own customer base of friends and family.

I hope that helps!

Reply

Barbara July 25, 2009 at 2:01 pm

I’m so glad we baked DB cookies “together” yesterday and I was inspired to stop by your blog and read this wonderful post! What a wonderful gift! I had never thought to add a card with directions. It might be fun to include the recipe too!

Reply

Barbara July 25, 2009 at 2:05 pm

I clicked on the label too late – I see that you did include the recipe!

Reply

Julie July 26, 2009 at 12:26 am

Barbara, It was funny to finish our DB recipe right together, wasn’t it?? Thank you for stopping by and for your sweet comments. As for the recipe, great minds think alike, right? :D

Reply

Lorraine @NotQuiteNigella September 25, 2009 at 6:03 am

What a great friend you are! I agree feeding people is such a wonderful gesture that fulfills me as much as it fills them :)

Reply

Julie September 25, 2009 at 6:08 am

Aw, thanks, Lorraine! You’re right; it’s so satisfying to bake someone a big casserole.

Reply

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: