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Freezer Meals

Posted by in Kitchen Talk

Tasty Kitchen Blog: Kitchen Talk (Freezer Meals)

I’ve always been envious of those who have backup meals neatly stashed away in their freezer, always ready to whip something out at a moment’s notice (like Ree’s Lasagna Rollups above). Those in the know have tricks up their sleeve and you can’t even tell the food was made ahead and cooked from frozen. Me, I’m not in the know. And that’s why I’m excited about today’s Kitchen Talk topic! Tell us:

Do you have any tips for freezer-friendly meals?

Any go-to recipes that are freezer-friendly? Tips and things to avoid when freezing food? Storage ideas? Favorite freezer-safe containers?

I have absolutely no tips to share because I’ve attempted to freeze meals twice, and both times I completely forgot I had them in the freezer. When I finally discovered them again, the food had practically fused with the container and I couldn’t remember what year I put them in there. So I cut my losses and said nothing to no one.

So maybe my tip about things to avoid when freezing is to not be like me.

Nanci says, “When we run the smoker, we usually load it up with several briskets or racks of ribs or chickens, then freeze the extras. It’s easier to run a full smoker than one that isn’t full. We do the same for grilled burgers—get that nice grilled flavor, then just freeze a couple so you don’t have to light up the grill on a weeknight.”

I need to learn more tips like that, so come share! Let’s hear all the freezer wisdom that I’m sure is out there and together, let’s freeze away! Or something like that.

 

31 Comments

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Susan on 5.27.2014

Almost any food can be frozen. For instance, when you have an abundance of fruits and vegetables from you garden that do not freeze well such as strawberries and tomatoes, you can puree them to use later on in sauces or smoothies. Apples can be stewed and used to make pies or jams. These methods also save space in your freezer. Trimming off the excess fat from meats before freezing will cut down on the risk of rancidity that can occur during freezing.

Ranger S. on 5.27.2014

There is an art to freezing bread. Believe it or not, we collect plastic grocery bags to freeze bread. Each loaf or pkg of rolls/buns will require 6 bags. Leave the bread in the bag it came in. Wrap the bread in one grocery bag but don’t seal it – just tuck the ends together as best you can. Turn the bread upside down and wrap with another bag. Continue to wrap the loaf while each time turning the opening of the next bag away from the last bag you used. When the sixth bag is around the bread, use a freezer label to hold the opening of the bag shut. On the label, write the kind of bread and the date it is frozen.

This does work. Try it with one loaf and see. You’ll find that you can buy bread in bulk from a big box store and freeze it. Really. Just make sure you have enough plastic grocery bags . . .

DebbieK on 5.23.2014

I freeze a chili soup shortcut. With fresh tomatoes, peppers and onions from the garden, I roast these vegetables first and then simmer with chili and cumin spices to make a chili soup ‘base’. I simmer it down so it is thick, then freeze is literally in cool whip containers. Once frozen, I vacuum seal in vacuum freezer bags to make a ‘disc’. To make chili later, the recipe is 1 chili disc (the soup base thawed), 1 can chili beans, 1 pound fried hamburger and 1 can beef broth – easy-peasy for a quick winter weeknight meal.

Kathryn on 5.23.2014

One more thing: pasta sauces! It’s easy to make a double batch of any tomato sauce, and then just freeze half! Makes a very quick dinner. Smitten Kitchen’s white bean pasta sauce freezes super well, and is just as delicious when reheated with hot, fresh pasta!

Kathryn on 5.23.2014

I love to make a big pot of beans (black, red, pinto, black-eyed peas) or lentils (especially black ones) and then freeze them in small freezer bags (1-2 size portions). I’ve discovered on my really hectic days, I can just take it out, put it in a take-away container and eat it for a very healthy lunch. I can either make fresh rice to go with it, or just buy rice (I live in a place with easy access to rice!). I like to season the beans and lentils well (cumin and coriander, etc.), and I do add onion and garlic to them when I cook them. I once added potato and carrots to them, but they tend to not do very well when freezing and unfreezing (carrot is kind of ok, but not the potato). I find that a fresh pico de gallo, or simply chopped tomatoes + onions + fresh herb (parsley or basil) goes wonderfully on top of a bowl of beans or lentils. This combo is also great for a very quick, healthy dinner.

One other absolutely great, and super healthy recipe I’ve found that is wonderful for freezing is Dr. Oz’s quinoa, sweet potato chili! Red quinoa works great, and you don’t miss the meat at all! (I’m not even a chili fan, but I love this!)

Using this make ahead technique has made it possible for me to have healthy lunches and has left me feeling so much better about myself a few days a week!

One other thing I’ve done that works well is make bread dough and freeze it in the loaf shape (so I make small French baguette style bread loaves). The dough can also be used to make a quick pizza. You simply need to take it out 1-2 hours ahead of time or even the night before, and voilà, fresh baked bread for breakfast that only requires turning on the oven!

I don’t know about the availability in America, but Glaslock glass containers are wonderful for freezing and taking meals to work/school. I like that you can easily reheat things in it (even oven safe) and you don’t have to worry about plastic or chemicals melting into your food!