Help! Tasty dishes that freeze well for after baby is born
I am due to have a baby in a few weeks and I want to stock my freezer with tasty dishes to eat when I'm too busy to cook. Does anyone have any ideas for tasty stews, braises, casseroles, etc. that freeze well? The more veggies/beans/whole grains the dish contains, the better, but we are not vegitarian and like chicken and beef and lamb, as well. I've made a big batch of each of my old standbys-- chicken cacciatore, chicken country captain, beef and been chili, caribbean rice and beans, etc.-- but I would love some new ideas.
Thanks in advance!!
I like to make soups for the freezer. One of our favorites is Southwestern Chicken. First, I simmer some chicken breasts in chicken broth with garlic, onions, cumin and ground oregano. When cooked through, remove the chicken to cool, then shred. Strain and reserve the cooking liquid.
Saute some minced garlic, chopped onions and chopped red pepper in olive oil. When onion is transparent, add reserved chicken broth. Add a can (or two) of crushed tomatoes, a can of (rinsed) black beans, a couple of handsful of frozen corn, a diced zucchini, and the shredded chicken. Add a sliced jalapeno (or two), cumin and ground oregano, salt and pepper to taste. Simmer just until zucchini is cooked through. Cool & freeze. Freeze in a single-meal size microwavable container---no extra dishes needed when you're ready to eat this. Serve with corn muffins (which can also be made and frozen ahead of time).
I did a big cook/freeze for my best friend when she was having her baby because I couldn't be there after the birth. I made:
1) lentil soup/minestrone/beef barly soup frozen in muffin tins, then tossed into ziplock bags so they could heat up one, 2, 6 however many they needed
2) vegie pot pies (no potatoes in the filling--because they don't freeze well) in fairly large individual aluminium pie tins--after the filling in the tins was frozen I topped them with little squares of puff pastry and stowed them in a large flat tupperware container
3) lasagnes for two that I assembled and froze in bread pans (lined with that no-stick aluminium foil)--after they were frozen I removed the lasagne from the tins and wrapped for the freezer--told them to defrost/bake them in the original bread pans.
I am a student at the moment so I like to stock up on dishes pre-exam time.
How about some old classics like Beef Bourgounge (sp? sorry) or coq au vin.
Also, I freeze steaks, chicken etc. in a marinade to just be tossed on the grill when defrosted.
Another freezer item I make is fresh ravioli. It might be a little to involved for you at the moment if you have other kids etc. but I will take an afternoon and make a bunch of ravioli. I freeze them on cookie sheets and then bad in zip locks to just be boiled from frozen later on.
Last, what about some savoury pie fillings for chicken pot pie etc. When defrosted it is as easy as whipping up a biscut like topping, or using puff pastry and baking to reheat and cook the biscuits.
Not a particular one. I believe the last one I made was pretty simple...start with a roux, add chiken stock, veggies, and chicken pieces. I do remember though it called for a smidge of nutmeg which was quite good.
Youcould of course do this for beef pies as well which are nice comfort food to hole you up through the fall and winter.
how about quiches? If you're lazy you could even start with
premade pastry crusts.
Another stew I'm fond of is some lamb, veal, or pork stew meat
with root vegetables - primarily carrots and parsnips - and
some sherry. It's a little odd to make now, but you'll love it in the slightly chillier fall if you're a fan of parsnips.
beans or lentils with onion and kale - and meat if you want - is another simple one.
Congratulations on your upcoming arrival. My wife and I had our first child in March, and I did a bunch of cooking in advance. I did a couple big batches of boeuf bourgignon, and I also made a few pork roasts (two with pineapple juice, allspice and onions; and one with a sea-salt, black pepper rub -- didn't wanna risk anything too strongly-flavoured cause my wife had been having some heavy-duty aversions). I sliced the roasts up, and put them into (roughly) serving-sized freezer bags. We ate them sometimes just as roasts, but also in sandwiches.
Also BBQd a bunch of chicken breasts, then sliced 'em up and froze em. Went great with either pasta, salad or in sandwiches.
These ideas all sound so tasty! Congratulations on your baby!
You can do large portion sized stuff for the times family and friends visit and individual sized stuff, depending on how much space you have in your freezer. Meatloaf, frozen pasta sauces, definitely. Lasagna, as someone mentioned. Vegetarian chili for the days when you don't feel like eating meat. Gut and clean fish. Put some marinade on it and then stick it in the freezer without cooking it.
You can marinate and stir fry small, thin slices of beef in a with onions, ginger and various seasonings in a pan then freeze it. Once reheated, it could easily go into lettuce wraps or spring rolls along with other items such as sliced tomato, quartered and thinly sliced red onion, or garlic, fresh mint, coriander (these are just examples, there are so many possibilities) and rice vermicelli along side a nuoc cham or peanut dip. Communal food. Make it and eat it together when a good amount of people are at your house. Someone has to help you wash the herbs, boil the vermicelli and slice tomatoes and onions. You can definitely bond with your friends. These dips can be frozen too or at least made well in advance. And when everyone sits around the table, with all of the ingredients, people get to pick what they want to put in their wraps and eat it. You don't have to stir fry this at all if you don't like it, you can make wraps with with moist, grilled beef or whatever meat or fish you like.
Whole cooked meals if you don't mind your starch, vegetable and meat touching each other. To elaborate on tuqueboy's idea, do things like roasts and grilled meat and slice it up, but also do potatoes and vegetables so that you can microwave it straight out of the freezer in microwaveable dishes.
I love stir fries, but I think that might be hard, because I don't like the way frozen vegetables (like broccoli) taste when they finally get cooked! Maybe someone on the boards can give suggestions for that one because stir fried vegetables are really good.
When I make waffles, which I don't do often, I like to make a lot of waffles and wrap them up well, individually. Then I can stick it in the toaster when I want to eat it. Your own always tastes much better than the commercial stuff.
I agree that lasagna (or eggplant parmesean) freezes wonderfully. You can enjoy a few pieces now then cut up the rest and put individual servings in ziploc containers and pop them in the microwave as needed.
I also freeze cooked, stuffed peppers. I usually stuff with rice and meat and have a tomato sauce... but you could add corn or other items to your fillings.
And of course, soups and homemade pasta sauce freeze wonderfully. For further inspiration, walk through the freezer section next time you are at the grocery. If Stouffer's can freeze it, so can you!
A final tip: I suggest investing in a lot of square freezer containers of the same size (even the ziploc re-usables). It makes packing things in so much more efficient!