Easy freeze meals??? Make ahead..help!
I am headed to help my DIL and son out. They both work, she is pg again, and they have a busy little 18 month old. I want to cook and freeze some meals for them..which they appreciate so much.
I usually do lasagna and meat loaf.
Any other ideas would be most appreciated.
Son is not a big carb lover (pasta, potatoes, bread).
soups, stews, chili, mac and cheese, casseroles, bake up some biscuits half way or 3/4 done and freeze great to have on hand to pop in the oven and finish off baking to serve with any of the above, same for cornbread. Roast some chicken, make chicken gravy and slice the chicken and combine with the gravy in a zip bag and freeze that can make a quick hot chicken sandwich, you can do the same with beef or pork too.
If you can find a copy of athemarvelous book THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF FREEZER COOKING by Helen Quat you'll be amazed at all the possibilities. Actually, many foods not containing mayonnaise, gelatin or hard-cooked eggs are great freezer candidates. Most sauced foods are terrific.
Eggplant Parm or Lasagna (instead of noodles, use zucchini and eggplant)
Mexican Casserole.. Layer Taco sauce or a white mexican sauce, then shredded cooked chicken, black or pinto beans, corn, salsa, green chiles, cheddar and jack cheese, one layer of whole wheat or regular tortillas, repeat and top with cheese, bake, cool and freeze.
Quiches freeze well.
Freeze meatballs in sauce, then allow to partially defrost and cook in pot in sauce; serve over whatever is desired.
Poached chicken breasts with garlic retain moisture best in freezing; serve w/ ratatouille that freezes well.
Cabbage and Meatballs freeze well.
Meatloaf freezes very well.
Too carby but, Polenta Lasagna w/ Chicken Sausage
Layer polenta made with butter and paremsan cheese, cover with chicken sausage and marinara sauce with carmelized onions, layer up and top with mozzarella and more parmesan.
Make a batch of polenta, using chicken stock, and adding butter and lots of parmesan toward the end.
Brown some ground or chopped chicken sausage in a pan with garlic and onions, then stir in some of your favorite marinara sauce adding whatever spices you like... I always add in the typical Italian slices with a little anise seed for flare that people can never put their finger on as the "it flavor." You can also caramelize some extra onions as I like to do.
Layer polenta, onions, sausage/sauce, mozzarella and if you want to be decadent a few dollops of ricotta mixed with herbs, then polenta, onions, sausage/sauce, a little more polenta, then (ricotta if using) mozzarella, and parmesan. Bake at 350 or so until melded through and browned on top.
Just about any soup, stew or casserole can be frozen and reheated later. My freezer almost always has a couple of containers of lentil soup, black bean chili and curry of some sort. They're perfect for last-minute meals.
The one rule of thumb is to avoid potato chunks in anything (the freezing process does bad things to the texture) and pastas in soups/stews (ditto). I'll usually make the soup without.. when time comes to reheat, just add the potatoes/pasta and simmer long enough to cook through.
Mind you, if your son isn't into carbs, this shouldn't be as much of an issue.
However mashed potatoes do come out rather nice! So a shepherds pie would be OK.
One I use a lot is Pork Colorado. Use a few containers, then when defrosted we make burriotos, chimichangas, or enchiladas. Or keep it as a stew, roll up tortillas and have at it.
Won Ton Soup - freeze the Chinese chicken broth , then add the frozen wontons, some fresh greens, or sliced Char Sui (can be frozen also) and you have a great comfort soup.
I used to commutel about an hour each way (for12 years), I became quite good at making meals that were of all ethnicity to put on the table within a half hour for my children. Nothing was repetitive, and there are so many things that you can freeze that taste very nice.
Just depends, are you looking for casseroles only?
Stocks so they can use for Italian soup, risotto, to cook couscous, etc.
Turkey cooked, sliced and gravied.
Precut cookies unbaked for the little one and for unexpected visitors and for the DIL craving sweets. A few loaves (lemon blueberry, coffee cake, etc) Make some pork souvlaki skewers or beef skewers with the favourite seasonings; easy to throw on the grill. IQF them and then bag them.
Spaghetti sauce with the meatballs in it. Son can eat meatballs.
Variety of burgers (lamb with oregano, garlic and lemon; beef with whatever flavouring, chicken with whatever flavouring) for the BBQ to be eaten with/without a bun.
Cabbage roll casserole if you don't want to roll those pesky things.
Manicotti - more meaty than carby; or make cheese.
Chicken cacciatore in sauce.
Stuffed chicken breasts, stuffed, rolled, breaded and lightly brown. Cool, freeze. They can put in the oven to finish cooking from a half frozen state.