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Need help cooking for my SO while I am away!

I am heading off on a holiday without my husband. Part of the deal is that I leave him with dinners to eat while I am away.

It will be 9 dinners needed. He is not opposed to leftovers, but probably only 1 days worth. Ideally I am thinking casseroles that he can take out in the morning to thaw and throw in the oven when he gets home from work. I will have to buy some of those foil containers for this. I will have only one day to get all the dinners together. While he doesn't need anything fancy or creative, he still wants to feel my food love while I am away! He will have no problem throwing together a salad to go with, but meat and starch should be included. PS. we have no microwave oven....

some initial thoughts:
pot pie
lasagna
shepard's pie

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  1. I did all three of your suggestions (in small foil pans,) for friends of ours that had a baby. They were very well received, they said they heated up great (I wrote the reheating instructions on the paper side of the foil/paper top and put it instruction side up.)

    I also did mac and cheese (you can add a meat mixed in,) and a pasta with sauteed veggies in a cream cheese sauce (rotini or bowtie or some other small shape.) Just oversauce any pasta options since they tend to soak up a lot of it.

    I think we did three weeks worth of dinners for them so we did a couple pans of each figuring they could rotate so they didn't get tired of anything.

    1. I'm in the exact same boat! Leaving for 3 weeks without poor fiance, who will have to fend for himself! So far I've only got these delicious lamb meatballs, but would love other ideas as well! http://www.closetcooking.com/2011/04/...

      1. Enchiladas
        Sloppy Joe filling
        Meatloaf
        Chili

        1. My SO loves when I leave him with pasta bakes. Nothing fancy. He likes things like rigatoni and meatballs topped with provolone cheese or butternut squash mushrooms and cheese ravioli in an cabanara sauce. I just leave it in a casserole pan for him to portion up.

          He also likes soups. A loaded Hot and Sour, Waikiki Oxtail soup, or turkey with autumn vegetables. I pre-portion these so he just has to heat up a bowl and not the container.

          1. Hey now, let's not judge that which we know nothing about!

            Second the rec on sloppy joe filling
            Where are you going? One dish representative of the city or country you'll be visiting would be sweet/romantic
            Quiche, with Salad by Him
            Savory bread pudding
            White bean soup with ham or sausages
            Black bean soup---leave the accoutrements (lime wedges, white onion, sour cream or crema) separate in the fridge
            Any sort of stew
            Chili, let him buy cornbread or make it and toss in the freezer
            Any basic red sauce if he can boil the pasta---Marcela Hazan's tomato, butter, onion could not be easier
            Any curry or dal, with rice in the fridge or TJ's naan in the freezer
            Since these types of projects inevitably involve a lot of heavy dishes, you could parboil or steam some basic plain veggies---if wants he can reheat/finish with a little butter or oil in a saute pan
            Lastly, if you're short on time, pick up some carry-out, throw it in a foil container, and see if he notices the difference ;-)

            1. Hey hey everyone .... None of us are Cleopatra's relationship and we are here to help - not judge. Clearly she wouldn't be cooking in advance for her husband if she didn't want to or enjoy it. Just because that is her decision doesn't mean it is one to be criticized.

              Cleo - one of my favorite recipes that is easy to make in advance and can be frozen and reheated is this quick cassoulet: http://www.rachaelrayshow.com/food/re...

              Another dish I recently learned that is so simple and rich and amazing delicious as a side dish or as a topping on pizza or baguette slices is: saute celery and onions as your base {add garlic of you like}; after you get them ready, add Cannellini beans and a small tin of tuna packed in olive oil. Add more EVOO and set aside for a while to let the flavors meld and get happy. Maybe get a package of pizza dough (from Trader Joes or from your local pizza parlor) and then one night he can make his own pizza --- or just a nice baguette or ciabatta would be even easier if he doesn't like to cook at all.

              3 Replies
              1. re: Tehama

                holy cow people!

                There is a back story here, that I would rather not get into.

                But I will clarify a couple things in defense...yes my SO can cook, yes I have left him to his own devices before and he will cook a little, frozen pizza a little and take out a little, he works long hours at a physical job, we would rather he not eat out every night ($, health, and we live in a small town with few options), AND most importantly, I am extremely appreciative that I get to leave the snow and work and go biking for a week when it is not an option for him.

                thank you to the folks that are giving me some interesting ideas!!

                1. re: cleopatra999

                  Let us know what you decide to do and how it works out!

                  1. re: eight_inch_pestle

                    So far I cooked a roast last night, sliced up leftovers and packed with leftover mashed potatoes, will buy him a packet gravy for it. Also chopped up more meat and packed with some leftover cilantro rice from the other night, he can add stirfry sauce and I will buy a package of stirfry veg.

                    I am cooking a bolognese today, will pack the leftovers for him.

                    3 down, 6 to go!!

              2. When I was putting freezer meals together for my aunt, one of her favorites was slices of lengua cooked with peppers and sauce from a mexican place that I'd portion out into smaller servings with rice. You could do the same with beef strips, flank steak, etc.

                This is very nice of you. My spouse subsists on ice cream when I am away.

                3 Replies
                1. re: tcamp

                  Does rice freeze okay? it would be nice to have meals that were not all pasta/potato. Also when doing pasta bakes should they be cooked or uncooked? When I do a lasagna I get it all ready, but don't actually cook it before freezing I assume the same would be true for pasta bakes. Any thoughts on how freezing will affect whole wheat noodles?

                  I plan to do a casserole exchange this fall with friends. So this will be a bit of a test run on some recipes as well :)

                  1. re: cleopatra999

                    rice rfeezes well and whole wheat noodles do too. I make a chicken and rice casserole with peas or green beans that freezes well. I'd freeze the lasagne etc unbaked.

                    1. re: cleopatra999

                      Yes, as magiesmom says, rice freezes very nicely. I reheat in the microwave, maybe a spot of water or broth, then cover. As for lasagna, if I am portioning it into individual servings, I bake, then cut into serving sizes, freeze, and heat in the microwave when ready to serve. Same with baked mac and cheese. I don't think there is an adverse affect on ww noodles when they are in a casserole type dish.

                      Oh, I just noticed that you said in the OP that you don't have a microwave. I'd still bake in advance, then reheat in the sealed foil container. Perhaps adding a little bit of liquid.

                  2. When I'm away, my husband always has steak at least one night. Along with a baked potato that's pretty much a meal. You might also roast a chicken (or buy one roasted) that can be used for a couple of meals. How about enchiladas or stew since they both freeze well.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: escondido123

                      Picking up a rotisserie chicken is a great idea! He can get about 3 meals off that alone.
                      Hehe, when I'm away, my non-cooking man knows not to be touching stuff in my kitchen, and just goes out or brings something home.

                      1. re: escondido123

                        The baked potato is a great idea. I always have twice-baked potatoes in the freezer, usually made with spinach and cheese, plus sour cream, milk, butter, s&p. They're easy to reheat in the oven.

                      2. Just a cautionary note, Cleo: potatoes do not freeze well in liquid like soup or stews. They get soggy and mealy like a soaked cotton ball. Never froze mashed, so can't comment on that, but definitely know from experience about the soup.

                        Minestrone soup with lots of veggies, white beans, and mini meatballs (chicken or beef)
                        If you want to include pasta, cook up, toss with a little oil, package separately in serving sizes, rubber band to the soup container, and he can add when reheating. Saves the pasta from getting oversoaked.

                        Lentil soup with sausage chunks

                        1. Braised dishes (stews, etc) freeze and reheat beautifully. I have been doing these for my father for nearly two years. Some of his favorites: coq au vin; another braised chicken recipe with carrots, celery and mushrooms; lamb shank stew (several different recipes); giant veal and ricotta meatballs; pork stew with braised greens (using country-style ribs); shepherd's pie. You can also get some great ideas from the September Meatball thread. I can give you recipes for any of these if you want. Great project!

                          1. Breaded things are great frozen and heated in the oven. I have breaded fish fillets, chicken cutlets and pork cutlets in the fridge to heat up for a quick meal with a salad.

                            1. mini meatloafs

                              sliced cooked pork over noodles that have some marsala and garlic

                              beef slices in red wine and garlic with a hash-brown topping

                              spaghetti sauce

                              sausage like kielbasa, onion,apple with noodles or short pasta in chickebn broth

                              1. I've always done this for my husband, too, cleo. I am as liberated as any woman--liberated enough that I don't give a fig what anyone else thinks of my doing what I love, for people I love.

                                [Stepping down from soapbox]

                                Since my guy is not likely to go to much cooking effort on his own (but he'll grab salads off the salad bar at the SM), I always leave some mains in the freezer:

                                A couple of dishes of baked ziti--usually one with marinara or meat sauce, Italian sausage, and cheese and another version with a creamy cheese sauce, broccoli florets and mushrooms, topped with bread crumbs. Since you've made bolognese sauce, you could do a baked ziti and have a second dish from your sauce.

                                Pot pies are always a hit--usually I just make a couple of small traditional chicken ones (once I also made him one with shrimp and puff pastry that he didn't like as much).

                                He loves red beans and rice, but I've found that if he doesn't find rice already cooked, he won't bother cooking it. But if your guy likes beans and will cook his own rice, that's a good option. He could mix it up by having it with your sliced roast one night, maybe roast chicken another.

                                If there is a roast chicken in the mix, chicken enchiladas is a good freezable dish.

                                My husband also loves black bean soup, one of the few soups he'll make a meal of.