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Freezer Meals

Are you done with me today? I know 5 (maybe 6) posts is a lot for one day. I’m sorry. They all go together though!!

Before we got pregnant and I was doing tons of reading and chatting with other ladies about all things newborn and what not. Many of them suggested stocking our freezer full of meals that we could just throw in the oven and not worry about any prep or clean up. I thought they were genius. Such a simple idea but it hadn’t dawned on me at all.

I started looking for different things to try and the best ways to freeze and how long things would keep. I came up surprisingly empty on the details. I live for details. I want specifics, I struggled to find them.

Then I happened upon The Illustrated Quick Cook, LOVE. Filled with recipes for saving time, freezing, saving money, tips, tricks the whole 9. I read through it twice already. Yes, I read a cook book. I’m cool like that!

Then one of our friends was nearing the end of her pregnancy and I found the perfect test subjects. One afternoon I made 4 complete 8 serving meals in 2 hours. Kept 4 servings for us and 4 servings for them. It was a perfect experiment!

CLICK HERE to see the meals that we have made and enjoyed.

If I make one freezer meal a week until Riley shows her beautiful face I will have nearly 3-4 weeks of meals saved up and ready to go! Thats a tall order for a procrastinator like myself so I will surprise both myself and all who know me if this actually happens.

What freezes?

Food Packaging Storage Life Defrost & Reheat
Soups & Stocks Freezer bags. Liquids will expand, so you need room for this. You can also freeze in ice cube trays and once frozen transfer to zip top bags Soups 3 months Stocks 6 monts Thaw Overnight in the refrigerator then reheat in a pan on the stove until hot
Sauces & Gravies If recipe called for egg or cream leave out and add before serving Freezer bags. Liquids will expand, so you need room for this. You can also freeze in ice cube trays and once frozen transfer to zip top bags Up to 3 months Thaw Overnight in the refrigerator then reheat in a pan on the stove until hot
Stews and Casseroles Remember to choose lean cuts of mean because foods with high fat will go bad after a couple months freezing Freezer bags or foil containers or even tupperware with tight lids. Be sure to cover meat with liquid Up to 3 months Thaw Overnight in the refrigerator then reheat in a pan on the stove until hot. Should not be reheated more than once
Pies and Pastries Pastry can be frozen cooked or uncooked Uncooked – Freeze in blocks layered with wax paper then wrapped in plastic. Cooked – shells and pies should be double wrapped in plastic Uncooked – 3 months.             Cooked – 6 months Uncooked – tart shells and pastries can be cooked frozen @ 400 for 15 min       Cooked – thaw overnight and reheated @ 350 for 30 minutes

What doesn’t Freeze?

  • Cream Cheese, Cottage cheese and cream. They separate and become watery (a.k.a. gross)
  • Mayonnaise & Hollandaise sauce will freeze but fall apart at defrosting time
  • Fatty Foods get fattier and turn rancid
  • Cucumber, lettuce, celery and tomatoes will turn to water when defrosting

Things to remember

  1. Use colored bags or boxes to help distinguish what is what in your freezer
  2. LABEL! What is it? When did you make it? How many servings? How do you reheat it?
  3. First in first out. Make sure that you are using in the order you froze so that everything gets used in time
  4. Freeze in portions. We won’t eat 8 servings at once so I’ll divide it in half and we’ll each get a dinner and lunch out of one portion.
  5. Air tight is key in keeping out the freezer burn.
  6. Don’t leave food on the counter to defrost, always overnight in the fridge. The counter is a quick way to pick up something unpleasant.

 



Pork with Fennel and Mustartd

Pork w/ Fennel

From: The Illustrated Quick Cook

INGREDIENTS

  • 6 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 2 Lg Onions, sliced
  • 3 Fennel bulbs, sliced
  • 2.5 lb Lean Pork cut into cubes (I used boneless pork chops)
  • 8 Garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2/3 Cup Dry White wine
  • 2 Tbsp whole/coarse grain mustard
  • 1 tsp Paprika
  • Handful flat parsley, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp Sage leaves, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp Rosemary leaves, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp Flour
  • 3 Cup Milk

DIRECTIONS

  • Heat oil and add onions & fennel cook for 5 minutes
  • Add pork and cook 5 minutes
  • Add garlic, wine and mustard. Bring to boil and allow to bubble for 3 minutes
  • Stir in paprika, parsley, sage and rosemary.
  • Whisk in flour
  • Add in milk
  • Bring to a boil then simmer for 5 minutes
  • Let cool and transfer to freezer safe container
  • Stores 3 months
  • Defrost in fridge overnight the microwave on high for 2 minutes, stir and microwave 2 minutes more.

Beef and Parsnip Stew

Beef and Parsnip Stew

From: The Illustrated Quick Cook

These pictures are not doing anything justice. I guess that’s what I get for taking phone pictures of a cook book in flourescent lighting.

This meal requires a dish that can go from stove top to oven. I didn’t have one so I started in a LARGE skillet then transferred to a casserole dish for baking. Work with what you have!

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 Tbls Olive Oil
  • 2 Onions, finely chopped
  • Handful Fresh Thyme
  • 4 Garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2.5 lb Beef stew cubes
  • 4 Large Carrots, rough chopped
  • 5 Parsnips, rough chopped
  • 3 Cup Beef Stock
  • 1 Tbls Butter
  • 14 oz Button Mushrooms

DIRECTIONS

  • Preheat oven to 350
  • Heat oil & add onions to cook for 6-8 minutes
  • Stir in thyme, garlic &  season w/ salt and pepper
  • Add steak and cook 10 min until browned
  • Add carrots and parsnips
  • Pour in stock.
  • Bring to boil, reduce to simmer cover and put in oven for 1 hour
  • With 10 minutes left to baking heat butter in small frying pan, add mushrooms and cook for 5-8 minutes
  • Add to the stew and bake another 30 minutes
  • Let cool completely before transferring to freezer safe container
  • Good for 3 months
  • To serve: Defrost in fridge overnight, transfer to large casserole and bake @ 350 for 30-40 minutes.

Hearty Minestrone Soup

The cookbook pic!

 

From: The Illustrated Quick Cook

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 Tbls Olive Oil
  • 2 Onions, finely chopped
  • 3 Garlic Cloves, finely chopped
  • 4 Celery Ribs, finely chopped
  • 4 Carrots, finely chopped
  • 9 oz pancetta, cut in small cubes
  • Handful Flat Parsley, finely chopped
  • Handful Fresh Sage, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbls Tomato Paste
  • 1 Can Chopped Tomatoes (28 oz)
  • 2 Can cannelloni beans (14 oz each) rinsed and drained well
  • 2 Cup Chicken Broth
  • 10 oz Frozen Green Beans
  • 8 oz Frozen Peas
  • 10 oz Small pasta shapes

DIRECTIONS

  • Use a pot large enough to hold everything.
  • Heat the oil
  • Add onions cook 6-8 min
  • Add garlic, celery and carrots cook 10 minutes
  • Add pancetta, cook 5 minutes or until brown
  • Add herbs, tomato paste & canned beans. Season w/ salt and pepper
  • Add stock, bring to a boil then cover w/ lid and simmer for 35 minutes
  • Add Green beans and peas cook for additional 5 minutes
  • Let cool completely before transferring to freezer safe container
  • Freezes 3 months
  • To serve, defrost overnight in fridge then transfer to large sauce pan. Add pasta and simmer until pasta is cooked to your liking. Top with parmesan.

Few things to add with this one. See all that ‘finely chopped’ stuff? The Pampered Chef Food Chopper is a MUST have. We flew through the prep and had this simmering away in minimal time, with all of our fingers in tact.

What are cannelloni beans? They are white beans in cans, quite popular. Sound it out while looking at the canned beans section you will find them! The recipe actually called for borlotti or cranberry beans, but my small town food store didn’t carry them. So I went with what I knew to have neutral flavor with enough meat to hold up to a soup.

Also, frozen peas and green beans don’t come in 8 or 10 oz so I got the closest I could and used the whole bag. It’s ok. It just made the soup chunkier with nutritious goods like veggies!

 

Sweet Corn Chowder

The cookbooks picture

From: The Illustrated Quick Cook

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 Tbls Olive Oil
  • 2 Onions, finely chopped
  • 6-8 Medium Potatoes, cut bite-size chunk
  • 2 12oz Cans of Corn
  • 5 Cups Hot Vegetable Stock
  • Handful Flat Parsley, chopped
  • 4 Tbls Heavy Cream (only at serving time)

DIRECTIONS

  • Heat oil in saucepan. Use a pot large enough to hold all of the ingredients.
  • Add onions and cook for 6-8 minutes until soft. Season w/ salt and pepper
  • Add potatoes and cook on low for 5 minutes
  • Add corn
  • Add all stock, bring to boil and simmer for 15 minutes until potatoes are fork tender
  • Cool completely before transferring to freezer safe containers.
  • Good for 3 months
  • To serve, defrost in fridge overnight. Heat in saucepan until hot. Stir in cream.

Serves 8