Cottage pie is a fantastic make-ahead meal which you can freeze or store for later in the week or in the month. I find that cottage pie freezes really well, and requires minimal preparation. In most cases, I bake one for now and bake one for later.
You will need to bake a cottage pie / the ingredients of a cottage pie prior to freezing. Once the cottage pie is assembled you’ll need to let it cool down to room temperature. From there you can split to portions or freeze as a whole in either a glass dish, container or foil tray.
To achieve a really good frozen (and thus defrosted) cottage pie you’ll need to ensure you have some essential tools and equipment.
Tools & Equipment For Freezing Food
These are my tried and tested tools and equipment for freezing food.
Whether it’s fresh fruits or completely prepared meals these tools will make the process easier, and the food last longer and taste better!
Containers – We opt for glass containers as they are better for the environment, much higher quality and don’t stain like plastic, however they are an investment.
So if you’re short on money buy high-quality plastic containers in the meantime.
Just be sure that you buy your containers in a range of sizes as you’ll be using them to freeze and store a range of different foods.
Ziplock Bags – Invest in quality freezer bags and they’ll help keep out air, prevent frost and keep your food fresh for longer.
The majority of the high-quality ziplock bags come with a small area for you to write information about the food (i.e. what it is, when it was frozen and defrosting instructions) on the bag.
Ice Cube Trays – Ice cube trays can help you freeze more than just water. Instead, we use them for freezing small portions of food such as egg whites, tomato sauce, pesto etc.
Simply add the food to the tray, freeze and once frozen pop the food out and into a ziplock bag, then you can simply take one or two portions of food out and defrost as needed.
Foil Baking Containers – We use foil baking containers when we’re batch cooking frozen meals.
They are affordable, durable and come in a variety of sizes allowing you to portion out or put everything in one large container to be cooked at a later date.
If all that wasn’t enough, the majority of meals are safe to be cooked in the oven with the foil container. This reduces the amount of hassle, time and washing up you’ll have to do – winner!
How To Freeze Cottage Pie
To create a cottage pie the ingredients need to be cooked before forming the pie. This step you cannot change and don’t want to.
Potatoes need to be cooked before freezing so they can freeze properly and have the maximum taste when they are reheated.
To successfully freeze cottage pie place, make it as you would a normal time and place to one side.
Let the cottage pie fully cool down at room temperature. If you plan to keep the dish as a whole and reheat as a full serving you can leave it as it is.
If you plan to split the portions for singular servings, you can cut them up and place them in individual containers to cool and freeze.
I suggest using a container such as a glass dish, plastic container or foil tray.
Cottage pie is harder to store in anything other than a container as it is much softer and has very little structure.
Once fully cooled place an airtight lid on the container before placing in the freezer.
If you don’t have a lid for the container use cling film or plastic wrap over the top of the container creating an airtight cover.
Then place foil over the top to create a second shield. Place in the freezer flat to stop the layers from moving.
How To Defrost Cottage Pie
The most effective way to defrost a cottage pie is to take it out of the freezer the night before you plan to eat it.
Place it in the fridge to naturally defrost overnight. This is the best way to defrost a cottage pie for the best taste and texture.
Once fully defrosted place in the oven for 30 minutes. If you have different cooking instructions from your recipe follow that.
If you are defrosting a singular portion, place in the fridge overnight.
Once defrosted place in an ovenproof or microwave proof container to cook for 20 minutes in the oven or 3 – 5 minutes in the microwave.