DIY not for you? I’ve finally found a frozen pizza that I adore with all-natural ingredients that I can pronounce (!) and don’t mind serving my kids. Quick and easy from the freezer without the day long prep? Yes, please! Check out my review of #HomeRunInn pizza here:
I’ve posted my recipe for the perfect pizza crust before, but I don’t think I’ve ever shared with you a freezer cooking pizza session. I love cooking ahead because it’s so easy to just pull something out of the freezer, especially on days when you’re sick or busy. I also love to have meals ready to be able to take to sick friends, new moms, new neighbors, that kind of thing. One of our family’s favorite recipes for the freezer is simple – pizza. Frozen pizza has always been a staple for my husband, but I don’t always like buying food that I could make at home – and healthier, too. Whenever I make pizza, I remember the GCB episode where Sharon (stay-at-home mom who later made the weight loss meals) and her husband Zach (car dealership owner) were counseled by their pastor to switch places – she worked at the church and he stayed home with the kids. He told her that the frozen pizza from the store was just as easy, but then later he said that their daughter didn’t like it because it made her break out. You don’t always know ahead of time what the consequences of making food in your own kitchen will be, but avoiding crazy chemicals is always a bonus in my opinion! So here is a peek into our cooking ahead day of pizza!
Freezer Cooking: Homemade Pizzas
The first step that we take when we ‘re cooking ahead is to make a stop at GFS Marketplace. My mom, former lunch lady, was the first person I knew who ever bought stuff from GFS – I think the Swedish meatballs served at my First Communion and graduation party were from there! But anyway, you can buy in restaurant-size packages and still save a pretty penny. For example, we bought a gigantic bag of flour (25 pounds) for $10, 16 oz of yeast for $3, a can of pizza sauce for $7, 5 pounds of pepperoni (I can’t remember the price on this), and 2 of the 10 pound packages of cheese for $10 each. Not a bad haul! In addition to those ingredients, we also used Canadian bacon, mushrooms, sugar, oil, butter, garlic salt, and cornmeal for sprinkling on pizza pans. Speaking of pizza pans, we pick those up at the Dollar Tree for $1 each. They’re reusable and easy to let go of when you’re taking a meal to someone else – you don’t need them back!
Getting the Homemade Pizzas Started
Now that we have our ingredients assembled, it’s time to get to work. First, we need some awesome pizza crust. You can find my pizza crust recipe here. I still love it! In this case, I didn’t use wheat flour so the entire amount of flour was in regular ol’ flour that I bought at GFS. The hardest part with the dough is waiting for it to raise. Once it’s raised and punched down, you’re ready to start sprinkling cornmeal on the pans and preheating the oven. It took me about 5 minutes to form each crust and I made double batches of my recipe, so 4 pizzas from each dough. It takes the pizzas 10-12 minutes to prebake in the oven and probably 15 to cool off enough for you to scootch them off the pan, so a wise cook would start each dough recipe with a 45-minute break in between each round of mixing dough. I, however, am not a wise cook, so I didn’t! It really helps though, that way your dough won’t spend too much time rising. My husband likes to experiment, so this time we replaced the salt in some of the dough with garlic salt to make a garlic flavored salt. I didn’t really like it, but he said that he did. So who knows, we may do it again.
Prebaked Crusts, Now What?
Once your crusts have been prebaked, they’ll need to cool off and then you can get ready to wrap them. You can either freeze the pizzas with no toppings and add toppings later or you can top the pizzas and pop them in the freezer ready-to-bake. I like to add all the ingredients at once, but I’ve also experimented with having a small plastic container of individually bagged pizza ingredients in the freezer. Put in the single-pizza quantity of your favorite ingredients in ziptop bags, label them with the date and ingredient, stick them in a box and when you’re ready to make a pizza you’ve got it ready to go no matter who is eating it and what they like to have on their pizza. One word though – I wouldn’t recommend putting just sauce on your pizza before you freeze it because it will stick to the plastic wrap and that’s just not good! My husband likes to melt butter, add garlic sauce, and brush it onto the crusts before we add the sauce, so we always have some garlic-butter crust pizzas. These are tasty, but make sure you write it on the label!
Wrapping a Pizza for the Freezer
One of my favorite cookbooks for the cooking ahead method is Don’t Panic, Dinner’s In the Freezer. If you don’t already have it, I totally recommend that you buy it or borrow it from the library. It’s definitely worth a read! One of the best techniques for freezer cooking that I learned from that book is the foil wrap method. When you’re freezing anything – be it a casserole or a pizza, you first line the dish or pan with aluminum foil. I lay the foil down in a + sign shape that way I’m sure it’ll cover up the entire thing. Then, on top of the foil, you do the same with plastic wrap. This is the hard part because plastic wrap likes to cling together and be a real pain in the butt. If you have a fan in the room, make sure you use something to weight down the edges of the plastic wrap to keep it as flat as possible. The less it sticks together, the easier it is to wrap! Place your pizza crust (or other dish) on top of the plastic wrap and start building your pizza.
Building Homemade Pizzas
We chose to buy a pizza sauce, so we bought the giant can from GFS. Another option is to make and can your own sauce, especially if you have a great tomato harvest. I haven’t perfected a pizza sauce recipe, but you could definitely can it by the pint and give it to folks who you’re gifting with the pizza meal. Give them a pint of sauce (or half-pint!), cheese, bags of their favorite ingredients, and they’ll have their perfect pizza! When you add the sauce, we typically just put some spoonfuls on the crust and swirl it around with the back of a spoon or the bottom of a small ladle. Easy-peasy! Once the pizza has been sauced, you add the rest of your ingredients and you’re on the way to finish the wrapping and labeling – almost done!
Wrapping, Labeling, and Freezing Homemade Pizzas
Since you spent the extra few minutes doing the foil and plastic wrap method described above, it’s actually super easy to get your pizza wrapped. Once your cheese is on, you bring two sides of the plastic wrap up and overlap them (if possible). Do the same with the other piece of plastic wrap, making sure that the pizza is completely covered by the wrap. Do the same with the foil. Now all you need to do is find a permanent marker and write your ingredients (and crust flavor, if needed) on the foil. Don’t forget to write the date! Place it in the freezer (in the pan is easier if you don’t have a shelf cleared off, or right on the shelf if you do have one cleared off) and allow it to freeze for at least 12 hours before you start moving it around and trying to fit as much stuff as possible in the freezer. I stack them as I put them in, but you could wait if you have tons of room.
Heating Homemade Frozen Pizzas
The last step in the process is to heat up your frozen pizzas. If you’re giving them away, you could either do this before you take it over or give them instructions on how to do it. An easy way to give instructions is to write them on the foil with permanent marker. If you think you may give them away, speed up the process by writing it before you put them in the freezer. We turn the oven up to 400 and bake them for 10-12 minutes. That’s it! Cool, cut, and enjoy.
So there you go – my favorite meal to take to others, my family’s favorite meal to heat up in the oven, and my favorite in-a-hurry dinner! What is your favorite?
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