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Aug 8, 2014 06:01 PM

Please help with (specific) ideas for frozen dinners?

**ETA: I guess what I'm really looking for are relatively healthy, well-balanced meals like a TV dinner, but homemade. Something with meat, starch, and veg all included that can be heated in the microwave only**

I'm trying to stock the freezer. Today I came into a surplus of BLSL chicken breasts and several beautiful pieces of filet mignon.

I've been freezing meat and thawing overnight to cook fresh for dinner, but the bf's job has changed slightly and he is working off hours for the foreseeable future. One day he'll be home at 3 PM and the next his boss needs him til 10 PM. So it is difficult to gauge when he'll be home for a fresh cooked meal.

He looks for things that can be pulled from the fridge or freezer and reheated in the microwave in a few minutes. So I need recipes that are already fully cooked and can be reheated without the oven.

I already stock the freezer with homemade meatballs and sauce, and a few different types of burritos which he loves (they are all meat free incidentally).

I'm kind of stumped, especially regarding the filets.

He's a meat and potatoes kind of guy. Nothing gets him happier than a steak and baked tater with all the fixings. At the same time, he also likes to eat light(er) and the most excited I've seen him over a dinner recently was a quinoa/veggie/pesto dish I whipped up.

No food allergies/aversions except for a dislike of shellfish and spicy foods wreck his stomach (so no chili or curries).

Any ideas? THANKS!

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  1. Stroganoff or stirfries with the filet - it's a shame but if you want microwave reheating, it's best to have the beef cooked all the way through. Stirfries for the chicken too, and chicken a la king. Just made the latter the other day. Serve over toast, or rice. You can always poach the chicken and use it in dinner salads which could be assembled ahead of time, but not dressed until mealtime.

    4 Replies
    1. re: greygarious

      Thanks greygarious, but a question: So for stir fries, would I just cook the whole thing (i.e. sliced chicken/beef, veggies, and sauce), then freeze it all cooked? Can I freeze it on top of cooked rice, or should I freeze rice separately?

      For the poached chicken, would I poach it, shred, and freeze like that? Then thaw in the micro?

      I've never eaten much from the freezer, so I'm a bit confused.

      1. re: nothingswrong

        Yes, you can freeze the stir-fries with the rice included, and the chicken shredded or intact. Just think of what meals are available frozen at places like Trader Joe's, and use those as guidelines for candidate dishes. Will the texture be the same as just-made? No. But the list of foods that are terrible frozen and reheated is short. Potatoes come to mind. Mashed is okay but chunks in things like soups and stews exude lots of water and become chewy-spongy in an unpleasant way. Some people think frozen latkes reheated in the oven are good; I don't.

        1. re: greygarious

          Okay, thanks. I am trying to picture the frozen dinners I used to buy and go from there. The bf won't let me prep anything for him when he gets home late--not even tossing together a salad for a side dish. But I hate to have him keep eating meatballs in marinara and frozen slices of homemade bread for dinner. I feel like there ought to be something green in there!

          Ideally I'm hoping to be able to freeze more rounded meals in their own containers that he can nuke just like he would a TV dinner from the grocery store (but hopefully it'll be healthier and taste better).

          I'm definitely going to give the stir fries a go; he loves Asian flavors. Thanks!

          P.S. I feel ya on the frozen latkes. Blech.

      2. re: greygarious

        Why is it best to have steak well done if it's later going to be MWd? I regularly reheat rare steak and keep it rare.

      3. Fin fish which has been commercially frozen when fresh holds up well and can be cooked from its frozen state relatively quickly. He may prefer red meat but it's healthier to eat fish once in awhile.

        1 Reply
        1. re: GH1618

          He does like fish, and we've done some frozen fish before. Just right now I'm up to my eyeballs in chicken breasts and filet mignon, so looking for ideas for those.

        2. Chicken pesto lasagna rollups, as recommended by juliejulz, once cooked, these freeze & microwave reheat beautifully.
          from Confections of a Foodie Bride
          - Do take time to make as rollups – not as balanced or pretty when made flat in 8x8
          Note that for the white sauce, you want
          2 tablespoon unsalted butter - recipe said 1, but that's not std white sauce and also
          2 tablespoon all-purpose flour - recipe said 1, but that's not std white

          5 Replies
          1. re: MidwesternerTT

            Thanks MTT, I've seen these referenced a billion times and bookmarked them somewhere.

            I know it might sound nuts, but is there any decent substitution that can be made for the ricotta? I don't have any and am hoping to avoid YET ANOTHER trip to the grocery store. I'm sure he'd love these though, so if need be, I'll grab some tomorrow.

            Thank you for letting me know they reheat well in the microwave.

            1. re: nothingswrong

              I actually made them with fat free small curd cottage cheese, in place of the ricotta. Worked fine.

              Note that these start with cooked chicken, so there's a step in there first (poach your chicken breasts).

              1. re: MidwesternerTT

                Perfect. He loves cottage cheese and I think we have several containers right now.

                I did notice the poached chicken. Thanks!

              2. re: nothingswrong

                As a ricotta sub, any other mild cheese even if it's not as wet, or hummus, or other pureed beans.

                1. re: greygarious

                  I have a ton of mozzarella and was thinking of maybe subbing in that in a lesser amount... I need to use it up ASAP. Thanks. I think that dish will be good no matter what I sub in.

            2. You also might try various "salad in a jar", as the sides for him. He can dump out the salad and start munching it while his main dish heats.

              1 Reply
              1. re: MidwesternerTT

                I was doing this religiously for a couple months but the salads kept going to waste so I gave up buying salad greens altogether. He tends to eat huge loaded salads for lunch, so although he'll happily eat them when I serve them to him, he won't grab one on his own out of the fridge.

              2. This sweet potato pork stovetop stew is terrific, holds well in fridge, can be frozen. We're spice wimps and omit the adobo - sounds like you would, too. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9188...

                1 Reply
                1. re: MidwesternerTT

                  Sounds yummy, maybe I'd have to make it with chicken, as he doesn't really eat pork except for bacon. Not sure why, I've just never ever seen him eat pork for some reason. Bookmarked.