Monday, January 24, 2011

Packaging and Freezing Meals

I touched on this topic of freezing and packaging meals in an earlier post as I have been active in cooking meals and freezing them so we are fully stocked for dinners once this little baby arrives. Recently I have also made a few meals for various American friends who have had babies or have had surgery, etc. For all situations, it is difficult to find good disposable containers here in England. I only have a limited number of pyrex dishes and I would prefer to keep those free for recipes I will be making and eating fresh, instead of letting the dishes get tied up in the freezer.
So here is the challenge. When I shop at my local grocery store here, these are my tin foil disposable pan options:

Naturally, I own many of these now.... and I will admit that I have hunted down every "It's a Pound" store and kitchen depot warehouse in our area and have found a FEW additional tin foil pans - mainly pie shaped dishes to round out my assorted collected. It has been a search though.

In comparison, when I was back in the US, I walked into a store, and imagine my shock when the disposable packaging aisle (yes there was an aisle for all disposable containers and packaging) looked like this:
I am thinking many may attribute these differences to the fact that Americans "consume and dispose," so these containers may be more popular there? Or is it the lack of freezer space the Brits have here? Probably a combination of some of those factors....along with the fact that other packaging materials such as ziploc bags, ziploc containers, Glad Press n' Seal Wrap (one of my favorite inventions) are just not as widely available and utilized the UK.
Luckily I have "imported" many of these items so when I have gone to freeze my dinners for our future consumption, I have been able to properly seal and freeze the items -
I used the disposable tin foil containers from the UK for the chicken enchiladas, but then sealed it with the Glad Press n' Seal first, and then wrapped the entire dish in tin foil for further protection...

I also find myself habitually saving our Chinese/Thai take away containers and sending them through our dishwasher for future food storage use. While they are not huge in size, they work well for packaging meals for transport to someone else's house and I do not feel guilty about parting with them (as I feel when I have to part with my "imported" and precious ziploc or gladware food storage containers).
A meal I prepared, all packaged and ready to go to a friend's house for her family after she recently had a baby. Maybe the locals just don't bring food to one another's houses - or maybe they just always are more earth-conscious and use reusable containers? Either way, once back in the US, I will never take the aisles of disposable packaging containers for granted at the stores!

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