Packing frozen things

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Packing frozen things

Postby sunshine7 » Fri Mar 18, 2011 5:07 pm

Hi,
I am new to this site.
I'm a work-at-home mum to an almosst 4 year old daughter who goes to kindy 2 days a week and a 20 month old son who is home with me. I am German, but live with my Aussie husband in Queensland (Eastern Australia).

I pack bento-style lunches for my almost 4 year old daughter. But usually with more western foods.
Sometimes I make mini-sushi with tuna as she loves it. I made Onigiri for the first time yesterday and she loved it.

In the past I often used to make pizza scrolls and stuff like that, freeze them and then just put in her lunchbox frozen in the morning and hope they'd be defrosted by lunch.
But I want to venture into things like mini-quiches and home made chicken "nuggets". As I have a hard enough time getting everyone ready in the morning, I would like to prepare them and freeze them to make packing lunches speedy in the mornings.
My question: will I need to re-heat them before packing them? If so, what's the best method for nuggets? Would the microwave be suitable? Or should I put them into the pan? I don't really want to use the oven as it just seems like a waste of energy for such a small amount. I have an overhead grill under the oven. Maybe that would be a good idea?
Or should I just put them in cold (I would have fully cooked them before freezing).

I usually include an ice-brick with my daughter's lunch to keep it cool.

Thanks for your help. What an awesome site!
sunshine7
 
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Re: Packing frozen things

Postby Pangolin » Wed Mar 30, 2011 12:26 pm

sunshine7 wrote:But I want to venture into things like mini-quiches and home made chicken "nuggets". As I have a hard enough time getting everyone ready in the morning, I would like to prepare them and freeze them to make packing lunches speedy in the mornings.
My question: will I need to re-heat them before packing them?


The general theory is yes. What seems to work best is to re-heat them and then let them cool to room temperature before closing up the box. (So condensation doesn't occur.)

sunshine7 wrote:If so, what's the best method for nuggets? Would the microwave be suitable? Or should I put them into the pan? I don't really want to use the oven as it just seems like a waste of energy for such a small amount. I have an overhead grill under the oven. Maybe that would be a good idea?


It depends on the texture you want them to have when they are eaten. A microwave works fine if you aren't worried about the outer breading being crispy. If you want crispy outsides, either try heating them up in a frying pan or a small convection oven (we have a small one that sits on our counter). To heat up a full sized oven for a couple nuggets does seem like overkill!

sunshine7 wrote:Or should I just put them in cold (I would have fully cooked them before freezing).


This mostly depends on your kiddo - will she eat them this way? And, whether or not they have snough time to warm up to room temperature before she shows down.

Lots of parents put ice-packs and cooler-blocks in their kids' lunches. It's not always necessary - especially if there's only a couple hours between packing and eating. (It also requires some common sense about what you pack!) Some moms here seem to think that PB&J sanwiches will go "bad" if they sit at room temperature in a lunchbox for two hours - it just isn't true.
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Re: Packing frozen things

Postby sunshine7 » Wed Mar 30, 2011 2:40 pm

Thanks for your answer. It is really helpful.

I seriously would not have space for a convection oven, no matter how small in my tiny, already cramped kitchen. Well, unless I got rid of my bench mixer and that's certainly not going to happen! So the frying pan it is.

My thinking was along the lines of: if we should try and avoid the "temperature danger zone" (5-60 degree Celsius or 40-140 degree fahrenheit), wouldn't reheating something that had been frozen expose it to a longer time in that "zone"? They always tell you to defrost chicken in the fridge (which I never do as it still seems frozen after 24 hours).
But I also understand the theory of reheating first to piping hot to kill any bugs that might be on there. Just wondering whether that is actually the better option.

I see what you mean about the texture though. Do you think it would remain crispy if it is sitting in a lunchbox that has moisture containing things in it? I mean, not touching these things, but I would imagine the humidity in the box would be relatively high. Not sure, though.

There are roughly 4 hours from the time I pack the lunch to when it gets eaten. But sometimes she eats the leftovers a few hours after that. But we do live in Australia, in the subtropics. It is autumn now, but still pretty warm. And summer is very hot and humid and things seem to spoil quite rapidly.
However, I completely agree with you on people being overly careful these days. A PB&J sandwich should be fine for quite a while without refrigeration - even here.
My daughter's daycare even has a rule that we MUST include ice bricks. If we don't, they won't let the child eat the lunch. Even if it is dry crackers and a whole banana or apple.
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