Choosing the right gift for some people can be hard. For the older single relative or the college student who just needs money, a meaningful gift is hard to find. In my case, this one gift was greatly appreciated by both. Neither of them wants to cook and if they do, it is not always a healthy choice, so I made two types of freezer meals. Home made “tv dinners™” and slow cooker “bags.” These food gifts have been greatly appreciated.
Making Frozen Dinners
Make frozen dinners in pba free/microwave ready plastic or divided glass containers. Think of it as cooking a family meal and dividing it into single portion servings. The college student eats more than the older adult, so it is possible to make individual serving sizes that suit each person. Some favorite meals are stir-fry over rice with a side of fruit, meat with different gravies over mashed potatoes or noodles. Each meal has a variety of colors, textures, and shapes to keep the meal appetizing. As in some commercially frozen meals, a side of cooked fruit can be the dessert. Always be sure to add at least one colorful vegetable. For more information about freezing vegetables go to https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/fy719.
Making Slow Cooker Meals
The slow cooker bags involve layering favorite recipes into a slow cooker bag. Freeze them to fit the shape of their cooker. The slow cooker bags may contain a favorite soup, stew or chili recipes. But I have also included meats with a variety of vegetables and flavorings. There are many recipes available online or at the library. But remember, for a taste from your home, use your favorite recipe.
Cook meat before it goes into the slow cooker. It is not recommended to put frozen raw meat into the cooker. If the meat is raw, thaw the bag in the refrigerator before putting it into the cooker. Label each bag with the date it was made, when it should be used, what is in the bag and how to cook it.
Choose the Right Container
Be careful with plastic containers. Frozen meals that are going to be microwaved should be thawed before cooking. They can be taken out of the freezer and thawed during the day. If tomato sauce or something high in acid is used, it is better to use glass. Glass containers need to be safe for the microwave, oven, and freezer. Check labels before buying the containers.
Homemade meals or ready to cook meals can be a time saver for anyone. But for people eating alone, a gift of a homemade, healthy meal is a gift for any season.