Share your freezer-proof recipes please
I am half way through my maternity leave (We get 1 full year off in Canada). I am trying to envision how things would be after I return to work. I would like to have dinner and spend quality time with my son after I pick him up from daycare. Given that I would probably have only a couple hours every evening to do that, the plan is to cook once a week (or even two weeks) and freeze everything.
I am seeking recipes to try out in the next 6 months. I have a crockpot, a dutch oven, a couple sets of pots and pans. I guess the only real constraint is that the recipes would be suitable for my then one-year-old son. However, this is my first child so I am not sure what he would be able to eat, or what he should avoid at that age.
I have also posted on the Not About Food board if you would like to share any tricks or tips -
I agree with meatballs - you can freeze them in or out of the sauce then just boil up some pasta!
These are time consuming now, but Asian dumplings are delicious and might be fun for your son to eat since they're so cute and he can dip them in sauce. And it would introduce him to some new flavors.
If you Google for "Once a Month Cooking" you'll find lots of ideas for freezing. You don't have to do the marathon cooking necessarily, but if you know you'll use a lot of ground beef or shredded chicken (plain or in gravy), you could do that in quantity. Anyway, it's a resource you may want to check out.
The only thing I know from experience you should NOT freeze is potatoes in liquid -- stew, soup. Mashed potatoes seem to freeze fine, but in liquid potatoes become little soggy sponges. Make the stew or soup but leave out the potatoes, and either micro or boil a potato to add at the point of reheating the meal. Scalloped potatoes don't do well either.
Mac and cheese (with or without ham bits) freezes well.
1.25 litres stock (vegetable, chicken or beef).
3 x 400 gm. (14 1/2 oz) cans of diced tomatoes
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
8 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced or quartered (about 2 cups)
3 zucchini, chopped (about 4 cups)
2 carrots, chopped (about 1 cup)
1 russet potato, skin on, chopped (about 1 3/4 cups)
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons chopped fresh coriander (cilantro)
1 teaspoon dried basil.
1 teaspoon dried oregano.
Salt and pepper to taste.
Heat stock and tomatoes in large pan on medium heat. Add remaining ingredients. Cover and bring to boil. Simmer until veggies are tender, about 30 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer about 3 cups of vegetables to a blender or food processor with about 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid and puree until smooth. Return puree to the rest of the soup.
This recent thread on freezing foods might be helpful.
With regard to what your son would/could be eating at a year old, my daughter (now 2 1/2) was completely finished with any baby food by 10 months. At that point she was eating just about everything that my husband and I were eating, just in tiny pieces. I would suggest giving your son a variety of different things and letting him try everything.
I also have a 6 month old son, and he's up to the cereal/yogurt/fruits and vegetables now, but I swear that he eyes everything on our plates. Another few months and he'll be eating lasagna, meatballs, and all sorts of other good stuff!
I have 2 young kids and try to always have a selection of meals in my freezer. Usually lasagne, sheppard's pie, chicken pot pie, meatballs and some soups. I use my slowcooker at least once a week for a roast or stew of some sort, I try to make lots so they can serve for more than one meal or the leftovers go in the freezer to be pulled out later and topped with store bought puff pastry for a quick and easy pot pie.
Hope that helps!