Good Food That Freezes Well?
I am due to have my first baby sometime in the next couple of weeks. I'd like to make some dinners to freeze so my husband and I don't have to cook for the first few weeks at home with our newborn. In my search to find recipes that freeze well, I've only found things that call for pounds of ground beef, butter, cheese and condensed mushroom soup.
We are used to eating somewhat light, but very flavorful meals. We're big on seasoning with herbs and spices, not so much butter and fat. We also like lots of whole grains, beans, and veggies, but aren't total health freaks. Mostly, we just like good food.
Anybody have any recipes or ideas for make-ahead or freezable meals that a Chowhound could love?
I'm a single vegetarian who routinely makes big batches of things so I don't have to cook every day. I love soups, stews, and bean dishes -- all of which freeze beautifully -- and am devoted to my pressure cooker. (If you haven't made the acquaintance of modern pressure cookers, do yourself a favor. They're huge time-savers, completely safe, and will get you out of the kitchen faster than you thought possible. I can recommend cookers made by Kuhn Rikon and Fagor. Don't get anything smaller than a 6-quart, since they can only be filled halfway.)
Author Lorna J. Sass is the doyenne of pressure cookery, and has written a number of terrific cookbooks, available through Amazon. One I use regularly is "Great Vegetarian Cooking Under Pressure." Wonderful.
Congrats on the about-to-be new arrival!
I cook or roast whole chickens, great to shred or diced and keep in baggies for anything, stir fry, sandwiches, creamed or just leftover. I make turkey meatballs or meatloaf, made healthy, Roast a turkey and make stock, and a bunch of other dinners. I keep frozen shrimp, not fresh, but a great go to quick dinner, same with some frozen filets. There are some good ones. Frozen Beef tips in broth. A great simple dinner you can serve with just some fresh rice and a salad. Mac and cheese done with some good cheeses. Of course the standard, lasagna, but a great mushroom or spinach lasagna, also ravioli is great and easy. make some rolled chicken breasts stuffed with fresh veggies and then lightly breaded. Sauteed and served in minutes. Soups and chilis of course.
Anything Pasta will make a good casserole that will freeze well. Everyday Food had a great recipe for a squash lasagna.
In fact, the recipe from this site are really quick and easy and very good. There is only so much you can do ahead for the months to come. Fresh produce is so essential. But, please check on the Everyday Food site for some awesome recipes that are quick and easy and delicious.
I really like lentil stew with chorizo and spinach. You can freeze in portions sizes; just take out of freezer in a.m. and defrost in refrigerator. It's one of my favorite dinner in a hurry, combined w/ crostini -- bread lightly toasted in oven, rubbed w/ 1/2 clove garlic and sprinkled w/ olive oil and salt.
You can freeze cooked beans, and then add to greens sauteed w/ garlic and chile pepper. Or use canned beans.
Also a Mexican casserole w/ layers of filling (beans, salsa, cheese, spinach) between corn tortillas is handy.
We freeze a lot. Most often in one portion sizes so that it can be taken to work for a healthy lunch or a solo dinner (or a lazy, rushed dinner for two night!).
What I freeze most often is soup - all sorts of soup; vegetable barley, tomato squash, mushroom, lentil, roasted cauliflour etc etc. These are generally lunches.
Lately, I've also frozen sheppard's pie made with turkey (spinach added to turkey) and lots of vegetables beneath healthy mashed potatoes (no butter or cream - when I want to be healthy, I find there's enough going on in the sheppard's pie without fat in the potatoes).
I also made a huge lasagna (again, turkey) and froze most of it in portions. I do the same as mentioned below - freeze shredded roasted chicken. When we have bean burritos, I make extra and freeze beans, onions and mushrooms for another busier night.
I also season meats before freezing them. I'm sure others wil argue that this isn't perfect 'culinary practice', but at the moment, I have two pre-seasoned pork chops defrosting in my fridge, which will cook up in no time when I get home. A fast, easy meal for us.
Good luck with your baby!
Forgot to mention - I also freeze thai chicken curry (and brown rice seperately), and chicken stew (tomato based with mushrooms onions garlic cilantro etc) to be eaten over cous cous. (it takes less than 5 mins to make the cous cous - will probably take you longer to heat up the chicken stew).
Also pasta sauce....