Dinners that freeze well
DH and I are expecting our first baby in 5 weeks. I want to start freezing some dinners so we don't have to worry about cooking when we first get home. I know lasagna and soups/stews/chilis all freeze well. But what else can I make?? Please include recipes!!
If you have an outdoor grill, grilled cuts of beef like flank steak, round steak, chuck, etc. can be sliced after resting and cooling in the refrigerator. Wrap amounts of the sliced meat that the 2 of you will eat at a single meal and freeze the packs. I have stopped buying cold cuts due to the added ingredients and fat. When the aforementioned cuts of meat go on sale, I buy about 6 pounds (3 steaks) and grill them. They are used in sandwiches.
Another possibility is pulled pork. My wife and I are empty nesters. We buy a picnic shoulder, roast it in a covered roasting pan for about 7 hours at 250-275 degrees, let it cool, and then shred the meat. We get rid of the fat. Again, the pulled pork can be frozen in meal-sized packs. When you wish to serve the meat, make a thin BBQ sauce in which the defrosted meat is to be reheated. Serve on crusty rolls.
Look up BBQ sauce recipes on the internet. There are loads of them to be found.
There are tons of discussions about this topic on Chow. If you search for "new mom," you'll have quite a list.
The only thing I will warn you against freezing is potatoes, especially if they are in soup or stews. They get very spongy and soggy when thawed. Make your stew and freeze, but boil or micro a potato, chop and add to the reheated dish before serving.
I love to freeze stuffed peppers. I cut them in half and blanche for about three minutes~ let them cool slightly, stuff them, ( I use chicken, spanish rice and black beans) put them on a tray in the freezer to completely chill, and then wrap them.
When my mom had back surgery last year, I filled her freezer with these, mini lasagnas, and even some burritos~ I did some breakfast ones (egg, sausage, mushroom, or egg, ham, peppers) and also some using basically the same filling I do for peppers.
You can also pound out some chix breasts or buy them already thin and roll up ham and cheese (or something else creative, skys the limit on this), roll it up and freeze them individually. You can take them out and bake them frozen (I think it was 40 min, 350).
Make mini meatloafs (enough for two) or my favorite salmon loafs.
Buy a frozen bag of sea scallops and just take out what you'll eat and just broil with minimal herbs, roast vegies at the same time - not much prep time for roasting and you've got a nice dinner without the effort.
Congrats and enjoy, there are no do overs with kids - enjoy every moment.
meatloaf is a great idea.
casseroles in general do well frozen.
i'd freeze preportioned baggies of pasta sauce (marinara, pesto, etc.), so that you can just defrost and heat, and cook up some pasta in the meantime.
you'll probably want to have some stuff that can be eaten one-handed... freeze some muffins, preportioned batches of oatmeal, some empanadas or some sort of stuffed pastry pocket, etc.
stuffed chicken breasts
enchiladas, quesadillas, burritos
chicken marbella or marsala
get the TJ's boxes of jasmine or brown rice (also couscous is really easy to make - hot water, 5 minutes, voila!)
sure you'll get much more!
Pretty much any braised chicken dish will keep well. I did the same thing when I was pregnant (over 2 years ago) and was so happy to have a freezer full of stuff to help out. If you go on epicurious and do a refined search for "poultry" and "braised" you'll find lots of ideas, but thing along the lines of cacciatore, mole (dang, no accent mark), etc. will work really well, and you can always add a starch (rice or pasta) when you defrost to make it stretch even farther (and get yet another meal from it). Best of luck and congratulations!
I buy frozen, cooked extra large Shrimp from Stop & Shop.
I take out 6 at a time, cook linquini and put 2 T butter & 2 T olive in a skillet on med.
Chop up garlic, saute for 1 min in skillet, add 1/2 cup of wine, a sprinkle of red pepper. Add shrimp, simmer 2 min. Toss together with cooked linquini, add parm cheese. 15 min. meal.
I marinate chicken breasts in Costco's pesto sauce (2 half breasts, 1/2 cup pesto), freeze.
I saute 1 onion, 1 greeen pepper, 1/2lb ground sirloin,1 can crushed tomato, salt and pepper and cook for 15 min., let cool, freeze. When ready to use, let defrost. Cook up elbows and toss together, great comfort meal.
I buy individually wrapped frozen tilapia filets from Costco in the freezer section. They defrost easily. Also, Costco's sockeye salmon.
If you have room, you can cut rotissarie chicken in half and freeze for two meals. Defrost and make Ina's Chinese Chicken Salad (halve the recipe), and her Chicken Pot (tweak it with frozen veggies and canned bisquits).
Good luck with the new baby!
Thanks for all of the ideas! So far we've got pizza and marinara sauce in there. And we do have frozen veggies and lots of frozen fruit. Maybe I'll put DH to work this weekend and have him make a lasagna.
Meatloaf: I've never made one before. My moms is awful. Anyone have a good recipe?
Here mine, and it's really good:
1 ½ pounds ground chuck
½ pound ground pork
1 onion, chopped
1 egg, beaten
¾ cup chili sauce, (I use Heinz)
1 cup water
2 teaspoons vinegar
1 cup plain bread crumbs
1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons brown sugar
Mix beef, pork, onions, egg, half of chili sauce, ¾ cup bread crumbs, salt, and pepper. Form into a loaf and place in a baking dish. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 15 minutes. Combine the rest of the chili sauce, water, vinegar mustard, and brown sugar. Stir until smooth and pour over the meat in the oven. Continue baking for 1 hour. Basting occasionally.
This meatloaf thread is very recent, but if you search here, you will find a ton more suggestions. My current favorite is Martha Stewart's Meatloaf 101.
Also, brisket freezes very well. There are tons of recipes out there, it jsut depends on whether you like a sweet or savory variety (I like sweet). Here are a bunch from epicurious.
Also, these short ribs are great too.
And meatballs are always good. You could make regular italian style or sweet and sour, which I've been making for my kids lately...they sound sort of lowbrow, but they are tasty and freeze well!
Oh, and congratulations!
Congratulations on your soon to be new addition! You said you already had pizza but I wanted to add that last year I bought one of Costco's pizzas that you bake at home, you know, the humongo ones they sell at the food stand. I threw it into the freezer then when I was ready, cooked it as I would any frozen pizza about 425 degrees for 20 minutes or until done. Worked great! Now if I can figure out how to divide it up before freezing??? Anyway, as far as frozen dishes, I have also done pasta dishes that I have undercooked the pasta a bit, added vegis, cooked meats, sauces red or white and cheeses (sorry this isn't a recipe but I just do it by feel). I toss it all together in a big pot and divide it into the disposable aluminum pans, cover first in plastic, then foil then freeze. When ready to cook, I just take the plastic off, put foil back on and throw into the oven frozen for 1 - 1 1/2 hours at about 375 degrees. It works great! I made a bunch of these for a friend who had broken her back and pelvis and at the same time put a bunch in our freezer. Occasionally if I overcooked the pasta was a little mushy but still edible. Guess it just depends how picky you are. I not very.
As far as meatloaf, mine isn't fancy but I get a ton of compliments on it. Again, I don't have a firm recipe but will try to write it out for you. Meatloaf is like chili, everyone has their own recipe.
Two pounds of ground meat, mostly chuck but a bit of veal and/or pork is good also
1 large onion chopped
1 - 2 tsp granulated garlic, not garlic salt (depending on your taste) Fresh garlic is fine also I just find it easier in meatloaf to use the granulated type.
4 or 5 good shakes of the Worcestershire bottle
1/3 c. of your favorite BBQ sauce or ketchup
1/2 cup of bread crumbs, uncooked oatmeal or crushed crackers
Italian seasonings to taste, oregano, parsley, marjoram, basil, rosemary, ect..
If you want some heat, add hot sauce or chili flakes (personally I don't like my meatloaf hot although I love spice food)
Mix well with your hands then put either in a greased loaf pan (only the top gets crispy)(also put loaf pan on a cookie sheet to catch any fat that may drip over edge) or form into a loaf in a 13x9 greased pan (more surface crispyness). I don't usually put anything on top of mine, but my mom always brushed it with ketchup or BBQ sauce. Bake at about 375 for hour or until 160 degrees internally. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.
Other mom tricks, she put dill pickles in the center of the meat loaf. Sounds weird but is actually pretty good. Green olives was another mix-in as is a layer of cheese in the center. Just put the bottom half in pan, add middle ingredient then rest of meatloaf on top. I am sure there are lots of things you could add to the middle and would love to hear other ideas!
Spanikopita freezes really well... I make large individual triangle pockets, and freeze them (uncooked) on a tray on plastic wrap. When they are frozen hard, I remove them from the tray, and store them in a ziplock bag. When it's time for dinner, pull them out and bake them in a oven (don't defrost them 1st), and they turn out great. I like to serve them with a salad, hummus, and labne or yogurt cheese.