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Nov 3, 2012 10:23 PM

Looking for easy make-and-freeze meals an 11-year old would be proud of and enjoy

My kid friend wants to make dinner for his family once a week but is busy with school and sports and being a kid. Not to mention he doesn't have much cooking experience.

Last time I visited we made lentil chili (which was well received and will be repeated). I'm about to visit again and I'm trying to figure out what we can make ahead to freeze so all he (or someone) has to do is pop it in the oven and maybe make a salad or some other fresh veg. Reheating something on the stove is ok too but something that can go into the oven and needs little to no tending is far preferable.

Constraints: no cow dairy (goat ok), little (preferably no processed foods), no microwave.

I'm trying to think of base dishes I can show him, but am coming up pretty empty. Maybe this is because I'm mostly a peasant cook or mostly it's because I lack imagination or maybe it's actually a difficult challenge. Either way, I would LOVE your help.

Thanks! And if there are things I should have mentioned already, just ask them--I'll happily tell you whatever I can to help you help.

Thanks again!

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  1. Goat cheese pizza

    Pot roast

    Chicken pot pie

    7 Replies
    1. re: ipsedixit

      thanks, they've got a great local pizza place that does take and bake pizzas, so that's not something he needs.

      Does pot roast reheat well? My ex loved pot roast and I (finally) figured out how to make it, but am totally clueless on how you'd freeze then reheat it.

      Chicken pot pie is genius! I can teach him crust and we can make a variety of c.p.pies to freeze and then bake on "his" night.

      eta: I was vegetarian during my formative cooking years so if you're suggesting something meat-centric please point me to remedial help. Thanks!

      1. re: miss louella

        You can easily freeze pot roast in individual tupperware containers.

        1. re: ipsedixit

          Ok, so you slice it up and cover it with juice before you freeze? (Sorry to be so remedial.)

        2. re: miss louella

          Also, think about hand pies or empanadas. You can do many different fillings - curry chicken, picadillo, potato, carrot and pea, etc.

          1. re: Dcfoodblog

            If we get to dough on this trip I will definitely be walking down the hand pie/empanada path!

          2. re: miss louella

            Brisket also freezes and reheats beautifully. Same theory as the pot roast. I've frozen brisket, lasagna, and eggplant parm in single serve containers and brought them to my father when he was in the hospital. They reheat "just as good as new."

        3. Chili - can reheat in an oven as easily as on stop stop, just takes longer

          Soups - any soup can be frozen and again reheated in oven instead of stovetop, just takes longer - e.g. White bean soup - learn how to cook dried beans, make stock, etc

          Any braised meat (Pot Roast as suggested - carnitas for Mexican - etc) freeze well and can be reheated in an oven with their liquid in, essentially, the same way they were braised.

          Along those lines, just about anything that you do in a slow cooker can easily be reheated the same way (in a slow cooker or in an oven). I might search on here for slow cooker recipes and go from there for many more ideas (right now everything I can think of in the "freeze ahead" for just in case meals seem to have dairy in it . . . )

          2 Replies
          1. re: thimes

            So clever! I make stock in the oven all the time--don't know why it didn't occur to me to warm liquidy things up in there. (slaps forehead)

            I will do as you suggest on the slow cooker search though I personally haven't found any recipes that wow me. (Will also need to check to see if they have one.)

            1. re: miss louella

              A slow cooker is really the same as a low oven. So any slow cooker recipe can be done in a sturdy covered pot in the oven. The equivalent is about 300 degrees or 325 depending on how long it is cooking.

              A quick online search will give you some time guidelines for converting from slow cooker to oven. Cooking in the oven will take much less time.

          2. Have you asked him what type of things he would like to eat or learn how to prepare?

            1 Reply
            1. re: scoopG

              I definitely will when I get there, but I'm trying to get some ideas/recipes beforehand. I've found many people can answer a multiple choice question easier than an open ended one.

            2. I think a basic shrimp creole would be great. It does not take too long to prepare, is easily frozen in a disposable pie pan covered with foil, reheats in the oven and tastes and looks fantastic.

              Pot pies might work.well, especially with puff pastry crust, if you don't want to make one.

              3 Replies
              1. re: travelerjjm

                Shrimp creole, what a great idea! Would you reheat at a super low temp to keep the shrimp from getting real tough?

                1. re: miss louella

                  Yes. Covered and at a low temp. I freeze it rice and all but you could do it without the rice. I have done jambalaya (without rice) in a shrink-wrap boil bag (like Foodsaver) and that worked and the shrimp didn't get tough at all, if that is a good way for you. Then I made separate rice. I have a rice cooker (I got it for like $15 25 years ago) so it is dead simple.

                  1. re: travelerjjm

                    Yum, I love this idea!! If he doesn't bite on it, I'll do it for my own freezer!

              2. Mac and cheese.
                Baked franks and beans. Use Bush, Campbell's, or another brand of tomato-based baked beans.
                Doctor them up with onion sauteed in bite-sized slices of bacon, mustard, ketchup, brown sugar.
                Slice franks into bite-sized pieces and mix into beans, bake in a casserole till bubbly. Variations:
                nestle whole franks down into the beans, or switch the bacon to whole uncooked strips laid across the top of the beans and sprinkled with brown sugar before baking. This can be reheated in the oven, covered with foil.

                Tuna-noodle casserole.

                7 Replies
                1. re: greygarious

                  Would Mac N Cheese be good with goat cheese since OP says cow dairy would be a problem?

                  1. re: ipsedixit

                    Goat, buffalo, or sheep, which OP did not mention. Depending on the nature of the sensitivity, the Kraft-type orange cheese powder may or may not be okay though it sure is processed.

                    1. re: greygarious

                      They have a good supply for goat cheese but the others are not really an option. I like the goat cheese m&c though... Would go great with the lentil chili! By the way, what would you use for a cow milk replacement in the m&c? I suspect goat milk is too expensive where they are to be a good option.

                      1. re: miss louella

                        You could try almond breeze or soy milk. Make sure it's unsweetened and plain

                        1. re: cheesecake17

                          thanks! Any prefs/differences I should know about?

                          1. re: miss louella

                            I find almond milk has a less noticeable flavor. It's thinner than regular milk. Experiment with it before teaching your student. A friend of mine used almond breeze for years when her daughter was allergic to dairy

                  2. re: greygarious

                    Tuna noodle casserole...that sounds like it would be easy and I think he'd like it, but we'll have to see how his Mom feels about condensed soup as an ingredient. (He's not ready for the make-your-own sauce version yet.)