The Best Containers for Homemade TV Dinners

by Fred Decker

Pack your leftovers in foil or plastic for quick homemade alternatives to TV dinners.

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There are days when cooking a proper meal just isn't a practical option, and that's when frozen, prepared TV dinners come into their own. Making and packaging your own frozen meals is another alternative, one that can yield tastier and more nutritious -- but equally convenient -- dinners. Store your meals in either microwave-safe plastic containers or oven-ready foil. Neither is objectively "best," so your choice should depend on the heating method you prefer.

Pack 'Em in Plastic

Choose divided containers for multi-element meals with separate entrees and sides, or plain containers for single portions of casseroles or noodle dishes. Not all plastic food-storage containers are intended for microwave use, so be sure to check that crucial detail before you make your purchase. Stir your foods periodically as they reheat in the microwave, to ensure they heat evenly and reach a food-safe temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Alternatively, freeze entrees and side dishes in individual containers for a "build your own" approach.

Fix 'Em in Foil

Lightweight foil containers were the gold standard for TV dinners before microwaves became universal, and they're still good if you prefer warming meals in your oven or toaster oven. Disposable foil casserole dishes in varying sizes are ideal for reheating individual portions of those amorphous belly-fillers, while divided trays let you replicate the classic looks of vintage TV dinners. They're also useful for high-fat foods that might melt plastic containers in the microwave. Over-wrap the containers securely with foil, and then peel it away during reheating to let your meals brown or crisp.

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About the Author

Fred Decker is a trained chef and prolific freelance writer. In previous careers, he sold insurance and mutual funds, and was a longtime retailer. He was educated at Memorial University of Newfoundland and the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology. His articles have appeared on numerous home and garden sites including GoneOutdoors, TheNest and eHow.