07 January 2013

Simple casserole hack doubles your dinners

At Amazon: Pyrex Grip-Rite 8-Inch Square Baking Dish
At Amazon: Pyrex Grip-Rite 8-Inch Square Baking Dish
I employ this hack whenever I make lasagna, enchiladas or some other casserole-type dinner.

Instead of using a 9x 13 inch baking dish (as the recipe calls for), I split the recipe between two 8-inch square baking dishes. Each holds more than enough for a single meal for my family, so I serve one dish immediately and freeze the other.

I use Pyrex glass baking dishes. Not only are they cheap (you can often get sets on sale), they go from freezer to oven to table, and can also be popped into the microwave.

The benefits:

  • One meal prep, two meals. That's half the work!
  • Few-to-no leftovers. I'm the only leftover-eater in my family so this results in less wasted food.
  • More room in the fridge. No more having to find space for a big, half-full pan.
  • Easier cleanup. A small pan fits more easily into the dishwasher.

If your family is larger than mine (or has a larger appetite for dinner) you can always double your recipe and use two 9 x 13 baking dishes. But this has been working well for us.

Related: Start a dinner club to share making freezer meals

And: Stew fu: how to turn one-pot meals into multiple dinners

More: Tips for meal planning

Your comments

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This is a great hack! We love the leftovers in our house, but I know not everyone does. If I'm going through the work of making a casserole type dish like enchilada casserole, I'll make a double batch and freeze the 2nd for a future day. It really doesn't take that much more time when you're already making one and certainly saves future time!

Isn't it dangerous to put a Pyrex glass baking dish straight from the freezer into the oven? I have heard stories of the glass exploding due to the rapid temperature change - this happened to my sister in law.

Great idea, cuts down on preperations for future meals. Love it!

One idea regarding freezing glass is once the food is frozen, take it out of the pan and slip it into a ziploc bag (label it with name of food and date!), then stack the bags in the freezer. When you're ready to eat the frozen portion, take the bag off, and the frozen casserole or whatever will fit right into the pan! Defrost a bit in the microwave, then bake it off in the oven!

Yes, do what pdxfoodmama lists above, but line that pyrex dish with an extra long length of aluminum foil first. You might want to spray the foil with cooking spray too. It's easier to remove the frozen casserole from the dish this way. Place your foil-wrapped casserole in a zip-loc, freeze, etc. This frees up your pyrex dishes for other uses while still having ready to go casseroles in the freezer.

Sarah: thanks for the clarification. Now that you say that, I realize that I usually let my frozen dish defrost a while before putting it in the oven. PDXFoodMama and Natalie...great advice.

Great tip, but Yes, be CAREFUL with Pyrex! It WILL explode (and not just by moving from freezer to oven-google Exploding Pyrex). it happened to me :) tiny pieces of glass all over the oven, and needless to say, dinner ruined.

I do the 'freeze in foil in the pan, then remove from the pan to store' thing, though, and that works well.

Great idea! I'm glad I read through the comments to find out about the exploding Pyrex issue too. Now I remember seeing that warning on the label when I bought the Pyrex pans, but I probably wouldn't have thought twice about it without these reminders. Thanks!

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