Freezing Pasta

One of the keys to success around a house with 4 little kids is being prepared. For meals on busy days that means having things prepared ahead of time. A couple days of the week when we are running around to therapy appointments or classes in the afternoon I try to get dinner made in the morning and have it ready for us when we get home at 5:30. But that just doesn't always happen. So my solution on those kinds of days is to have things in my freezer that are easy to pull out and quickly serve. One of those things is cooked pasta.

A few years back I noticed that Trader Joes was selling bags of frozen cooked pasta - you just pop them in the microwave and serve, with cooked pasta ready in just 3 minutes.  I bought those for a while.  But as little bodies and appetites grow and grow, buying packaged things like that gets expensive - one bag of pasta doesn't do it for us.  So I freeze my own now.  

Whenever I am cooking any kind of pasta, I always, always make extra and freeze it.  I do this with any kind of pasta.  Penne is a favorite, because it's sturdy enough that it can hold up to being tossed around in the freezer a bit.  All you do is just toss your cooked pasta with a little oil or butter, let it cool, and then spread it out on a baking sheet to freeze without sticking together.  Then dump it onto a ziploc bag.  When you want to use it, pull out the amount you want and warm it up.  You can do this in the microwave for a couple minutes.  Or you can put a little hot water over it and let it sit for just a minute or two - this method works especially well if the pasta got a little dry in the freezer.

For longer pastas like spaghetti - below you will see what I do.  Take a fork and spin individual little servings onto a baking sheet (lined with wax paper helps keep them from sticking).  They look like little birds nests.  Then freeze these and then bag them when frozen.

Having cooked pasta in the freezer means I can have a meal ready for hungry kids in less than 5 minutes - thaw the pasta, toss it with a little sauce, or some butter & cheese, throw in some frozen peas or chopped broccoli, maybe dice up some ham or salami - a balanced meal in minutes.