If you’re coming home from a day at the office very late, and you don’t have the energy to cook a big meal, what would be a good option for you? If you’re like most people, you probably enjoy the simple delight of having some macaroni and cheese. Easy to make from a recipe or to heat up in the microwave/open, mac and cheese is a reliable favorite dish for both lunch and dinner. If you see a bulk package in the supermarket for mac and cheese, which is on sale, would it be worth it to purchase it to save some money? Would you be able to store it effectively for the long term without it spoiling? Can you freeze macaroni and cheese?
Can You Freeze Macaroni And Cheese?
The answer to this important question is a resounding yes. You can rest easy knowing that if you have leftovers from making a lot of mac and cheese, you will be able to freeze them for long-term storage. If you’re serving a good amount of batches of macaroni and cheese for your friends and family, you will be able to save time and money by not wasting the leftovers which you worked so hard to cook and prepare for your quests.
Preparing The Mac and Cheese
Freezing the macaroni and cheese is very possible, but to get the best results with the food products’ taste and texture, it’s important to take a few necessary precautions. You will want to prepare the mac and cheese not to be mushy or dried out after the freezing and thawing process.
To prevent the pasta from becoming overcooked or mushy, you will want to cook the macaroni for a few minutes less than its’ packaging calls for in the directions. It’s best for the pasta to be “al dente” in texture and to have a bit of toughness in its physical makeup. If it’s a little bit tough after cooking, that’s quite all right. The pasta will soften up after its’ frozen and then re-heated again later.
If you cook the pasta for longer than the package calls for, you run the risk of having the macaroni and cheese (check out our recipe for Mac n’ Cheese with Quinoa and Spinach) turn to mush after the freezing and thawing process. You also should consider adding about 50% more cheese sauce to your macaroni during cooking. This is because the pasta will soak up a lot of sauce and liquids when it’s frozen and then thawed out.
It’s best to add a little bit more cheese sauce than your recipe calls for because then your macaroni won’t end up dry and losing its’ overall taste. After freezing, the extra sauce will help your mac and cheese stay flavorful and juicy instead of being dry and tasteless. Lastly, before you begin the freezing process, it’s important to distribute the mac and cheese evenly in a baking dish and to spread and mix the sauce and the pasta together for an even flavor and texture.
Freezing and Thawing Processes
To freeze the macaroni cheese effectively, it’s important to follow these few steps for the best results:
- Freeze the portions of mac and cheese individually in multiple servings or together in one single serving with a freezer-friendly container or baking dish.
- If you’re freezing the food in a baking dish, wrap it tightly once or twice in plastic wrap, and then cover it again with aluminum foil. This will help prevent freezer burn and any excess air from affecting the mac and cheese.
- If you’re freezing the food in individual and separate smaller servings, it would be best to put the mac and cheese in multiple freezer bags. You should wrap the mac and cheese in a single or double layer of plastic wrap before tightly sealing the freezer bag to prevent freezer burn and excess air from getting in.
- Label the baking dish or each of the freezer bags with the mac and cheese inside with a permanent marker. You should be writing the date of first freezing to keep track of how long the mac and cheese has been frozen for.
- After that is done, put the mac and cheese in the freezer. You can keep the product in the freezer for up to six months total before you run the risk of the food going bad afterwards.
To thaw out your macaroni and cheese, remove the product from the freezer and immediately place it in the oven for re-heating. Make sure you unwrap the aluminum foil and/or plastic wrap from your mac and cheese before the re-heating begins. It would take an hour or more at 375 degrees for the mac and cheese to be defrosted and thawed out in the oven. However, if you prefer to thaw out the mac and cheese with another method, there is the option of the refrigerator. You can place the mac and cheese in the refrigerator directly after the freezing process is finished. If you keep the product there for a few hours or overnight, then you can re-heat it in the oven for only thirty minutes before it is ready to be consumed. This 2nd method will allow you to save some time and serve your guests more quickly. The taste and texture of the mac and cheese will be best after re-heating it fully in the oven.
Coming back to the original question, yes you can freeze macaroni and cheese. So next time when you cook the mac and cheese, make some extra pasta to freeze it for later use.