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Ontario, Canada
I am a wife, mother and grandma who enjoys the many aspects of homemaking. A variety of interests and hobbies combined with travel keep me active. They reflect the importance of family, friends, home and good food.
Cook ingredients that you are used to cooking by other techniques, such as fish, chicken, or hamburgers. In other words be comfortable with the ingredients you are using.
--Bobby Flay

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Friday, May 21, 2010

Homemade TV Dinners

Back in 1953 the original Swanson TV Dinners came to be when the novelty of television shows was still a novelty.  The premise was you could eat a tv dinner in front of the television enjoying both a meal and entertainment.  TV dinners were produced by C.A Swanson & Sons although meals on trays were produced by other companies prior to that.  Swanson-brand became the standard frozen meal that came in foil trays with a foil lid to reheat in the oven.  Here's a short video clip of a Swanson tv dinner circa 1960's as a reminder.

TV dinners gained popularity because they provided a quick, supposedly well balance meal.  They were inexpensive and allowed each family member to have their own choice of meal.  Frozen tv dinner meals continue to be a popular quick meal especial for those cooking for one and senior citizens.  The problem is these meals tend to be quite high in sodium and preservatives.  The price has gone up as well although they are still less expensive than take-out or eating out.  Homemade tv dinners are inexpensive to make and just as convenient as store bought.  All that's really needed are freezer safe divided containers and left-overs.

divided containers
Divided freezer containers are available in a variety of sizes and styles.  Pictured are two of the styles that I have.  To the right are 2 Ziploc® divided freezer containers and to the left are 2 divided plate style containers that can be used in the freezer as well.  You will need a divided freezer container for each tv dinner that you want to make.  The next thing you will need is left-overs so this is a great way to use up those little bits that are only enough for one person.

If you need ideas as to what freezes well for homemade tv dinners look through the freezer section of your grocery store.  I use left-over meats with or without gravy, frozen vegetables, mashed potatoes, cooked rices, beans, prepared pasta left-overs, various sauces and even soups.

homemade tv dinner
I like to make up a couple of tv dinners for the freezer any time we have a larger meal like roast beef or turkey as part of keeping ready meals in the freezer.  Pictured is the tv dinner I made for my husband's lunch using left-overs from a recent roast beef dinner.  Had I been preparing this plate for the freezer I would have used already frozen mixed vegetables and mashed the potatoes instead of leaving them in chunks.  Other than that the meal as pictured would freeze and reheat well.

In general potatoes tend to get a bit grainy if frozen in large pieces but if mashed with butter/cream or stock with or without another vegetable like carrots mashed in they freeze nicely.  I find I get better results pouring in already frozen vegetables like corn, carrots, broccoli and cauliflower than using already cooked vegetables mainly in terms of texture.  However, left-over cooked vegetables can also be used.  I don't recommend using cooked fish as the meat portion.  Uncoated fried chicken works well as does grilled chicken but coated chicken will get a little soggy.  While bakery products can be used in homemade tv dinners, I don't use them other than something like quiche.

2 food lovers commented:

Anonymous said...

Nice looking gravy!!

GG's daughter!

Garden Gnome said...

Hey there :) That's the beef gravy made using tomato stock. It is has a really rich flavour.