Cooking ahead and freezing meals can be very helpful for your busy schedule. This is a guide about freezer meal ideas.
I work full time (outside the home) and have four children (7yrs, 5yrs, and the twins are 14 months). What I need (besides in house help) is meals that I can fix and freeze. I found a few sites, but the recipes are a bit bland and or higher $$ cuts of meat. Any help would be a lifesaver! Thanks all!
Amy from OH
Here's an idea I've used:
When you do cook, make a double batch and freeze one to eat later. Slow-cookers (crock pots) are ideal too. Put the meal in the pot in the morning, by evening, it's ready to go. There are many 30-minute menu ideas on the internet too. Rachel Ray has a few cookbooks out there. You can find information about converting a regular recipe to a slow-cooker one on the internet also. I hope this helps some. Good luck to you.
One of my favorite cook books is:
Make-Ahead Meals by Jean Pare
It sounds like exactly what you are looking for. The book has a multitude of recipes that tell how to make the recipe, what you can do to prepare ahead and how to freeze/reheat. Most of the recipes make very large batches although you could adjust the recipes to your needs and amount of freezer storage. There is also a portion that tells you how to assemble a starter (browned ground beef and onions, marinated chicken or beef, etc.)and use in a variety of recipes. One of my favorites in the book is a meatball recipe where you bake a large batch of meatballs, flash freeze, and thaw and reheat for meals. I use it in spaghetti, sweet and sour meatballs, bbq meatballs, and meatball subs. Another recipe I want to try is a biscuit recipe where you assemble about 40 or so at a time and flash freeze. You can then bake as many as you need from a frozen state.
Crock pots are also wonderful and safe. Could there be a freak fire? Yes but I have never heard of that happening. Also crock pots heat up to a high temp quickly so there is no concern about bacteria or other food concerns. Obviously you would be able to tell if your food was not cooked properly by sight, smell, and internal temp. Just make sure your crock pot is in working order!
You could have packages of browned ground beef in the freezer. then this recipe would go very fast when you get home.
Ground Beef Stew
Brown 1 # ground beef in skillet
Add 1# sliced potatoes, (3 cups)
1 med onion, sliced
4-5 sliced carrots
1 1/2 tsp salt, 1/8 tsp pepper, 1/4 tsp thyme
1 beef bouillon cube and 1 1/2 cup boiling water.
Cover and cook 15 minutes.
Add 1/4 cup catchup, and cook 10 minutes.
Combine 2 TBLS flour with 1/4 cup water and add to thicken, cook about 5 mins.* I don't always add the flour because it is already thick enough.
Fix, Freeze and Feast, by Neville and Tkacsik (great cookbook!) from Barnes and Noble. I spent one Saturday making chili, 2 pans of lasagne, manicotti, chicken parmesan, tequila-lime chicken each, two full Greek/Mediterranean chickens and pork chops. I've tried all the recipes and so far, so delicious. Totally saved time and money as I shopped at our neighborhood Woodman's market. There are shopping lists in the book and all kinds of handy tips to assist in the art of pre-freezing your meals. Good luck!
I am looking for recipes for dinners that can be put in divided plates and frozen. Any ideas? My parents have take out every night. I want to make it so they can put the dinner in the microwave, still be eating healthy and not much effort on their part.
Thanks for your help!
I live alone and always have leftovers. I put them in divided dinner plates and throw them in the freezer. You could easily cook extra for your family meal and make them TV style dinners.
I did this one time when needing fast healthy meals for my family of 5. I actually went to the Dollar store and bought covered plates that would go into the freezer. Then at random cook a large amount of something. Like a roast, carrots, potatoes one day, part it up into meals. Then one day cook up a pot of chili, or homemade hamburger helper type , we like it spicy. Each day cook what you like, or you can cook it up for your parents, then put it into the divided plates, push all the air out, and cool it. Then freeze. Now I also, arranged in the freezer a certain way, because they all looked alike. And made a list of a menu plan, or you can put numbers on each plate for your list, someway show a menu to choose from. You must thaw the frozen plate out ahead of time, about an hour sitting on the counter. If you put it right in frozen, it will over cook the food inside. So thaw it, then put in the microwave. My kids and husband really loved this, because they didn't all have to eat the same plate, they got a choice, and it felt like choosing at a restaurant. Plus, it helped us watch our weight. This is not a complicated or hard job to do, and it is rewarding when you have that healthy, hot, and affordable meal sitting on your table.
Here is a recipe for frozen burritos that can be prepared in bulk and frozen to be baked when needed and what ever quantities desired. Seems to be easy, economical, delicious, & nutritious.Here is a link if you want to watch a video on the preparation of these burritos.
Frozen Burritos by Kathy Oaks
Salsa, as desired
Shredded cheddar cheese, as desired
Prepare Beforehand (Recipes Below):
Tear off a square-sized piece of tin foil. Place tortilla in the center.
Spoon layers of Spanish rice, pinto beans, chicken mixture, salsa and shredded cheese into the center of the tortilla from top to bottom (Use as much or as little as you would like).
Fold over the top, then fold over the two ends, and then roll all the way up. Roll the burrito in the tin foil from one side to the other and fold over the ends. Store four burritos in a gallon-sized freezer bag.
To serve: Cook foil-wrapped frozen burritos at 350* for about 30 minutes. Unwrap from foil and top with lettuce, sour cream and salsa.
2 cups rice
4 cups water
4 chicken bouillon cubes
1/2 can tomato sauce
Salt and pepper to taste
Fry rice and onion in oil until brown. Add the rest of the ingredients and bring to boil. Cover and let simmer 20 minutes.
6 cups dry pinto beans
12 cups water
10 cloves garlic
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
Combine beans, water, garlic, salt and pepper in a crock pot and let cook all night. The next day, sauté onion in oil and ladle in beans with juice and fry. Mash with a potato masher and cook until they are the consistency you prefer. You may need to add more water. This will make 30 or more burritos.
1/4 cup olive oil
12 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
2 bags match stick carrots
1/3 cup taco seasoning mix
1/2 cup salsa
1/2 cup water
Fry everything together until carrots are tender. Use for tacos, mini chimmies, burritos or taquitos.
My daughter and husband are very busy with their jobs. They pitch in on the cost of food, and I prepare dinner for myself (and father) and "my children"-- plus make frozen dinners after they have stopped by to pick up that day's dinner. There are those days I do not feel like cooking--they can then select from frozen dinners. I cook and freeze dinners of meatloaf, burbeon-glazed ham, BBQ (is especially good), turkey, pork chops accompanied by a vegetable and a starch.
I am retired and it makes me feel good because my father is 89 years old and can still operate the microwave--thereby always having something to eat when he is hungry. I will now start on the stews and chili.
I am in search of easy dishes that can be cooked and frozen to enjoy later.
Tina from Somerset, KY
I always freeze spaghetti sauce. Reheats great, thaw for a few hours, and simmer. (doctor-up jarred sauce with meat, and veggies.)
I also freeze homemade soup after I cook in a crock pot all day. Add beef stock, meat (small cubes) any type of veggies, onion and spices. Enjoy the first day, and freeze in several containers. if the frozen soup is too thick after you defrost it, add two cups of water, and one bouillon cube. Presto! Instant meal when served with bread and salad. Cook noodles separately, and add last, otherwise, the noodles absorb all the liquid, and it will be gross.
Have fun. The most important thing, purchase good freezer containers, and then place in a freezer bag. Freezer burn is quite nasty.
I overcook so as to have leftovers. My oldest son has left the nest and I still don't know how to cook for three so I cook just like I used to and freeze the rest. I use the rubbermaid rectangle dishes and freeze everything from hotdogs to fried okra. He says everything tastes great. Good luck!!
You can freeze a pot of chili! It is even better after freezing and reheating. Just let it thaw a bit overnight in the fridge, then reheat slowly on the stove.
I live alone but enjoy cooking large amounts of whatever I'm cooking. One of my favorite things to cook and freeze is beef stew, and it freezes well in quart-size freezer bags. This also works well for all kinds of soups and stews, chili, picadillo, etc. Don't pack the bags too full, get all the air out and they'll lie flat in the freezer. I usually put the bag on a plate or bowl and thaw in the microwave, then dump out of the bag and heat in the same plate/bowl.
All kinds of food works out well to freeze... grilled hamburger patties, meat loaf, etc. As monnat96 mentioned, it's very important to avoid freezer burn. Getting all the air out of the container is essential for this reason. Happy cooking!
Does anyone know what recipes and/or foods can be frozen?
By Sharon from Newark, CA
You can freeze just about any cooked meal! I cook up ahead things like lasagna, soup, casseroles, pasta and pasta sauces (freeze the sauce and pasta separately) and place all in individual portion freezer containers.
I also freeze single serving package raw meats.
All kinds of raw fruits and veggies can be frozen. Just Google 'freezing fruits'/'freezing vegetables' and you'll find all sorts of information on which can and can not be frozen and how to prepare the ones that do need preparation for freezing.
I chop things like onions, bell peppers, etc and place them in their own containers for future recipes to cook.
Fresh herbs freeze well for future cooking too.
Bread, bagels, biscuits, etc can also be frozen. Just be sure they are tightly wrapped with plastic wrap and, for extra insurance, foil too.
I am certain others here at ThriftyFun will pipe in with more information for you. ;-)
Most foods can be frozen, even whole ears of corn! If you intend to cook the veggies, they can be frozen. Most veggies will become limp so they do not do well for like pizza toppings etc.
This rainbow of a low fat meal can be served as is for a delicious low-carb option, or pour over rice or wrap in a flour tortilla for a family-friendly favorite.
Allow time to defrost in the refrigerator or defrost in microwave until softened. Transfer from containers to large skillet and simmer until thoroughly cooked.
Serve over rice or in a wrapped in a flour tortilla, garnish with cheese.