I’m Getting Sunday and Holiday Dinners Ready Ahead of Time with My Make Ahead Freezer Macaroni and Cheese.
Recently I was digging into my archives, cleaning up my website to make it more user friendly, and updating pictures. While doing so, I came across some old pictures in my camera. I saw these delicious pictures of some macaroni and cheese that I took when I started practicing food photography with my camera.
It dawned on me that I should share my tips regarding my day to day operations for holiday meal planning, and just meal planning in general. For a few years I have been making macaroni and cheese ahead of time and freezing it. Then, when it’s time to bake it, I just pop the pan of macaroni and cheese into the oven and let it bake. This saves me a ton of time when I have to cook several dishes for a big dinner or holiday dinner for that matter.
To make life easier, I use these disposable foil pans. So it becomes a dump and go type of situation regarding dishes, dishwashers, and all of that mess. I’m telling you this has saved me many times for little pot lucks, and dinners. My kid was going to a pool party that required everyone bring a dish. I had a few of these pans of frozen goodness stashed away in the freezer. I whipped a few out and baked them and sent the kid on their way with pans of creamy cheesy goodness.
If you’re not hip to the game yet, freezing macaroni and cheese is not a scary situation. You are basically assembling your macaroni and cheese dish, cutting out the cooking process, and placing the dish in the freezer until ready to cook. I found using the small disposable loaf pans worked great as it allows me to make several small pans to place in the freezer. These several pans of frozen mac n cheese cover multiple meals.
And just because it’s frozen doesn’t mean you get a hot mess like some of the frozen TV dinner mac n cheese trays you can find in the freezer section. You know the ones I’m talking about right? – Those Salisbury steak dinners that have corn kernels spill over from the other side dishes in the tray. When this mac comes out the oven, you have a creamy dream of macaroni, and cheeses.
Hope this helps you with your meal planning for the holidays and Sunday Dinner Friends as it has for me!
Here is another fool proof unconventional way to cook macaroni and cheese – using the slow cooker!
Get the recipe here >>>> Four Cheese Slow Cooker Macaroni and Cheese
Plan Ahead Freezer Friendly Macaroni and Cheese
- 3 to 4 small disposable loaf pans
- One pound of elbow noodles
- 3 cups shredded smoked gouda cheese (or Muenster cheese)
- 2 cups shredded gouda cheese (or Colby jack cheese)
- 1/2 cup shredded monteray jack cheese
- 4 and ½ cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- 2 eggs beaten
- 3 cups half and half
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1 and ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
Bring water to a boil in a large pot.
Once the water is boiling add the pasta to the pot.
Cook the pasta for about 2 minutes.
Drain and rinse pasta with cold water to prevent the pasta from overcooking.
Mix together the eggs, sour cream, half and half, buttermilk, salt, pepper, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, and sour cream in a large bowl. Then, add the cheeses (except one cup of the sharp cheddar) to the mixture, and mix well
Add the cooked pasta to the mixture and stir all the ingredients together.
Place the macaroni mixture in the foil pans.
Top the macaroni mixture with the reserved cheddar cheese. Lightly season the top of the macaroni mixture with additional fresh cracked black pepper.
Cover the tops with foil and freeze.
When ready to bake. Remove from freezer and cook the pan of macaroni and cheese for about one hour to one hour and 30 minutes (or until the macaroni and cheese is heated through) in a 350 degree heated oven. Start checking at the one hour mark.
Your macaroni and cheese is done when your macaroni and cheese is completely heated through and it has a nice creamy texture when you scoop out a spoon of the casserole.
This is a casserole type macaroni and cheese dish.... That means it binds together and is the ingredients are not loose like a boxed macaroni and cheese. If you are looking for that creamy runny texture serve immediately or at least remove it from the heat source so that the pasta can retain as much moisture as possible....
Also the key to success with this dish is to not overcook the noodles before adding them to the dish. This prevents "mushy" noodles when cooking the noodles for only a few minutes before adding them to the mixture.
Make sure to put a baking pan under the pans of macaroni and cheese to prevent leaking of oils in the oven while the macaroni and cheese bakes.
For a creamier version, don't let the macaroni and cheese thaw for 30 minutes. Place the frozen macaroni and cheese in a preheated oven for 1 hour and 15 minutes. At this time, check the middle to ensure that it warm and cheese has melted. It should look like my updated pictures in this recipe. If it still feels cool to touch, add another 10 to 15 minutes.