What are your best Prepare Ahead Freezer-Proof Meals?
I have to have my ACL repaired and will be on crutches for 6-8 weeks. Aside from the obvious inconvenience, my family still needs to eat and, although my husband can successfully heat up some Spaghetti-Os and pour some cereal into a bowl for my 3-year old, I don't want them eating that for two months!
So Chowhounders, please please PLEASE spam me with your favorite prepare ahead and freeze meals. Thanks in advance.
Chili made with ground turkey freezes very well, and is healthy. Here is my favorite recipe for turkey chili with white beans: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...
Muffins also freeze well - either breakfasty ones or savory corn muffins for dinner. You can wrap them individually in foil before freezing, then just use as many as you want.
Meatloaf (freeze raw), meatballs in tomato sauce, stuffed cabbage, salmon cakes/croquettes, shepherd's pie, minestrone. And don't overlook the virtues of those bagged salads, just open and dress and you're good to go. Good luck and speedy recovery!
Poor you! And how kind you are that you are worrying about what they're going to eat whilst you're on crutches! For me, pizza is a great freezer-proof meal as you can store it cut up in slices and they can take as many as they want out, defrost and heat up as needed.
Lasagna (also cut up in chunks); homemade turkey, lamb or beef burgers, a pie (chicken, fish, beef or vegetable) and if you like spices, you can make some chicken or lamb curry or fajitas rady to heat up in the oven or griddle pan and eat. Good luck and take acre of yourself.
I have a list going for my Jan/ Feb since my work schedule is going to be brutal.
I have already made:
~lots of homemade chicken broth with frozen whole carrots and the meat taken off the carcass (all that needs to be done is chop meat and carrot, heat and add some pastina - little Italian pasta balls)
~pasta shells stuffed with ricotta and spinach and manicotti (meat and vegetarian cheese(frozen on cookie sheet, unsauced, then put in a large bag; convenient to put in a sauced baking dish in the morning and pop in the oven when I come home from work)
~batches of sauce frozen is smaller containers (bolognese, marinara, vodka, and tomato sauce with meatballs)
~small amounts of beef broth and turkey broth (in case I need gravy)
I am hoping to make as much as I can this weekend:
~chicken piccata (partially cooked and only need to go in the oven)
~souvlaki and burgers (raw so we can BBQ)
Soups and stews of all kinds. Lasagna. Curries. Red beans. Pasta sauce - just defrost and boil some pasta. Baked mac'n'cheese works well too - I like to let it cool and then cut into individual servings, which I then freeze and nuke for about 2 minutes when I want a quick hot lunch. I also make a lot of individual servings of pot pies and bread puddings that can go straight from the freezer to the oven.
Emeril Lagasse's Sausage and eggplant stuffed shells with tomato-basil cream sauce. I like to make a double batch and freeze it in a couple of small casserole dishes or pie plates.
To maximize freezer space, I'd make stock, then reduce it by half the volume before freezing. You can then thaw, adding vegetables, starch, water, and thickeners and meat if desired. I'd roast chicken or turkey, and freeze well-wrapped slices. A vacuum sealer - even if it's one of the $10 battery-op ones, will greatly reduce freezer burn. I did this, plus the obvious chili, meatloaf, and pasta sauce when I was facing abdominal surgery 4 years ago. I went overboard stocking up on staples ahead of time, but it was a good thing, because I live alone and complications resulted in twice the anticipated recovery time. For the 2 months involved, you might also want to abandon environmental concerns and use disposable dishes.
Stews are really good for me-beef, veal, lamb or chicken. I keep frozen baby carrots, peas and onions to put into them. Also roast a turkey breast, make your family's favorite stuffing and then put together dinners of sliced turkey with stuffing and gravy. I also like to make enchiladas and freeze them. We keep sausages around since they are easy to throw on the grill and serve with some pasta.
I get metal takeout dishes from a restuarant supply place nearby. They would be good for things that you will put in the oven since they are aluminum. Check for plastic for those things you can put in the microwafe.
If not bagged salads the salad bar would be quick and easy for your husband.
Good luck. Hope the surgery goes well and your recovery is easy and quick.
One other useful staple not mentioned here yet is frozen rice-- even when you're hopping around spry-ly, it can be a pain to get home and have to start washing, soaking, and waiting for rice to cook. I always make rice in bigger batches than I need, and freeze individual portions for microwaving, for the lunchbox or for dinner. Some veggies and protein can be stir-fried in about the time it takes the rice to nuke, making for a quick and fresh weeknight dinner.
Good suggestions from all (as usual.) I have another thought for you. I had a torn patella tendon repaired a few years ago and did not have time to prepare like you (emergency surgery.) Smart idea planning ahead, by the way. Anyway, one suggestion for you would be to think about taking some of your healing time to teach the hubby some cooking techniques. Eggs? Grilled cheese? Tuna salad? Quesadillas? French toast? Pasta with jarred sauce+garlic bread? Kin nda simplish things while you 'coach' him on crutches in the kitchen. You know, the whole "Give a man a fish..." thing.
Good luck with the surgery, anne! This Spinach Cabrini recipe is one I got from an AOL cooking/food message board a LONG time ago, and have tweaked to include sauteed chicken for a one-dish meal. I also often cut back a bit on the Monterey Jack and add Pepper Jack for some oomph, but not sure how the 3yo would go for that.
Those are my (LLW) comments at the bottom of the link (obviously someone copied/pasted it from my post on AOL). However, it doesn't include all of my notes, as I've made this many times and have changed it around. Some additional comments I've noted in my MasterCook file:
09/03/01: LLW Notes: Did the same as last time, but sauteed some cut up chicken and minced garlic in butter and mixed that in to mixture prior to baking.
09/24/02: LLW Notes: Made full recipe--split cheese between Monterey Jack & Pepper Jack cheese; used only 1 pkg. of chopped spinach and sauteed 6 chicken tenderloins and minced garlic as before, as well as the garlic/herb seasoning and bread crumb topping.
One thing to note - regardless if you're making the full recipe or a halved recipe (the 3 of you could make do with a halved recipe), make sure you mix it in your largest mixing bowl (I use the largest of the Pyrex mixing bowl set I have).
Another suggestion is a crockpot beef burgundy from Mabel Hoffman's Crockery Cookery cookbook: http://tinyurl.com/a3hgp9 This can easily be made by your husband as well. Very easy preparation. :-)
I haven't seen this one listed - but enchiladas freeze really well. And are pretty easy/quick to make, depending on what you put in them.
This may be a stretch (forgive the pun), depending upon your hubby, but can he stretch out a wad of pizza dough, top with pre-chopped veggies/meat/cheese and pop in oven? If you think he's capable, the no-knead dough recipes do freeze beautifully. We use the Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day light whole wheat recipe which makes about three to four batches of dough at a time but can easily be doubled. It's so easy to make (just stir flour, salt, yeast and water together and let sit on your counter for a few hours) and then it can be separated into freezer bags and you've got dough! Good luck with the surgery! Here's hoping you emerge pain free, and with a hubby who is more confident and capable in the kitchen.