Author Topic: GOOD freezer cooking  (Read 5787 times)

Kitsune

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GOOD freezer cooking
« on: September 13, 2015, 02:08:06 PM »
Mustachians who like good food and are short on time! I need suggestions. :)

I hit a breaking point last week: we live 20km from the nearest grocery store, and no restaurant will deliver to where we are (country. real country.) In short: there is zero alternative to actually cooking dinner. I get home, with toddler, at 5pm. Toddler needs to be in the bath by 7:30 at the latest to prevent meltdown. I like to spend some time playing with my kid. I do NOT want high-demand weeknight cooking, or to have to run to the grocery store for ingredients.

Solution (that I used to use, but had run out and not started up again): freezer cooking. Not for every night, since there are nights where I'll feel like cooking something specific or easy (omelette, anyone?) but some nights grabbing something out of the freezer and shoving it in the oven, and/or starting the microwave or rice cooker, is about all I can manage and still spend time with my family AND do all the house/farm chores that need doing... but I don't want to sacrifice on the taste of food, or the quality, and so many "freezer food" recipes involve cans of cream-of-mushroom or turn into a mush. Oh, and final challenge for me (though probably not for most of you): it needs to be wheat-free.

What I usually keep in my freezer:
- Shepherd's pie (1/3 meat, 1/3 corn, 1/3 vegetables. Not authentic, but tasty, healthier, and means you don't have to come up with a side veg). I just made enough for 11 dinners, total cost of 38$
- Lasagna (vegetarian, made with GF lasagna noodles)
- Tofu curry (curry sauce, cubed tofu, stir-fry veggies, just reheat and put on rice)
- Pasta sauce (with GF pasta for the person who needs it, regular for the rest of us)

But guys, I need inspiration. Do any of you do any freezer cooking that's tasty/healthy/affordable-ish?

pbkmaine

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Re: GOOD freezer cooking
« Reply #1 on: September 13, 2015, 02:21:26 PM »
Soups and stews, either made ahead and kept in the freezer, or cooked in the slow cooker all day.   Burritos made with corn tortillas, packaged assembly line on a weekend. Fried rice, made in bulk and packaged in qt freezer bags. Not freezer, but easy to make: baked potatoes, cooked in the microwave and topped with whatever you find in the fridge: cheese, chili, broccoli, sour cream, salsa.

CupcakeGuru

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Re: GOOD freezer cooking
« Reply #2 on: September 13, 2015, 03:04:06 PM »
Second vote on soups and stews.  Fried rice, fajitas and quesadillas are all quick if everything is cut up before hand.

MsPeacock

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Re: GOOD freezer cooking
« Reply #3 on: September 13, 2015, 03:06:17 PM »
What about using a slow cooker? I find this even easier than freezer food because it is ready the moment I walk in the door. I like the Budget bytes website for slow cooker meals (and also fast make from scratch meals). Lots of good soups that can be done in the slow cooker. I do the prep the  night before and put the slow cooker liner (mine has a liner that is removable) with the ingredients in the fridge. When I get up in the morning I just put it in the cooker and turn it on low and get on with my 10 or 12 hour day!

Rezdent

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Re: GOOD freezer cooking
« Reply #4 on: September 13, 2015, 03:10:58 PM »
Diy Pizzas, stuffed baked potatoes, and tacos/burritos.
The time and effort to make one batch of these scales easily to multiple batches and works well with kids.  They love to help make them and they are happy to eat them later - mostly because they can be reheated fast.

Noodle

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Re: GOOD freezer cooking
« Reply #5 on: September 13, 2015, 03:17:32 PM »
Mexican food (enchiladas, taco casserole, etc) translates well to the freezer since it's supposed to be pretty soft-textured anyway.

Second the slow cooker. My parents saw the state of my small appliances while they were helping me move and decided to upgrade several as a birthday gift...the new slow cooker has a timer, which is great! It is hard to find recipes that are good after 12 hours, but with a timer you can use recipes that take less time. If I'm doing that on a work day, I definitely have to do the prep the night before and then just dump it in the cooker in the morning, esp since I like recipes with a lot of veggies.

My favorite slow cooking blog is this one--less active these days but all the recipes are archived. Very few pre-prepared ingredients and rarely exotic or expensive although it is not technically a budget cooking blog. http://www.ayearofslowcooking.com/  She has a family member who has to eat GF so all the recipes can accommodate that.

nereo

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Re: GOOD freezer cooking
« Reply #6 on: September 13, 2015, 04:00:03 PM »
Lasagnas freeze incredibly well.  Assemble them uncooked in aluminum foil pans (you can 'cheat' and use no-boil noodles).  When you get home ~5pm you can pop one in the oven for a hot meal in about an hour, with leftovers for the next day's lunch.


Also - +1 (+4, 5?) to the slow-cooker.  That's our go-to device for a hearty meal when we get home from work.  Recommend checking out Slow Cooker Revolution from your local library.

kimmarg

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Re: GOOD freezer cooking
« Reply #7 on: September 13, 2015, 04:21:46 PM »
www.onceamonthmeals.com entire website devoted to cooking all day one day and the having stuff in the freezer. Al the recipies are ready to freeze. Some of the recipies are free, and you can get a free meal plan. The site costs $10/month for full access but it is so worth it for me. You just put in your servings and it calculates how much of everything you need to buy and chop, combining all the recipes you chose. Then it gives all the directions. I find I easily save the $10 by not folding on more expensive quick options.

1967mama

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Re: GOOD freezer cooking
« Reply #8 on: September 13, 2015, 04:39:38 PM »
Jessica Fisher is well known for her freezer cooking on her "Good Cheap Eats" blog. She is feeding a large family so her recipes are kid approved:

http://goodcheapeats.com

2ndTimer

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Re: GOOD freezer cooking
« Reply #9 on: September 13, 2015, 05:16:35 PM »
I make Chinese steamed dumplings, cook them and freeze them.  When I get home I pull them out of the freezer and an stick them in the steamer until they are heated through.  Just about enough time to get your clothes changed and the table set.

Rural

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Re: GOOD freezer cooking
« Reply #10 on: September 13, 2015, 05:21:28 PM »
Homemade burritos freeze very well - can your GF person eat corn tortillas? If so, that would work.

Workingmomsaves

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Re: GOOD freezer cooking
« Reply #11 on: September 13, 2015, 06:18:48 PM »
Like you mentioned breakfast for dinner is fast.  You could even freeze pancakes or waffles.  We also like quesidillas during the week.  I cook pinto beans in the crockpot all day and then make bean and cheese quesidillas.  So simple and yummy!  I then freeze the rest of the pintos and use them in chili or burritos.

Catomi

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Re: GOOD freezer cooking
« Reply #12 on: September 14, 2015, 01:50:07 PM »
First, ditto everyone that the crock pot is a wonderful invention. We use ours for pork shoulders (makes great fillings for burritoes, omelettes, or pretty much anything that can be filled), stews, and I've used it for chicken broth before. Oh, and jerk chicken (http://www.bakersroyale.com/savory/slow-cooker-jerk-chicken/).

Otherwise, I tend to make double batches of stuff and freeze half. If I'm organized, I'll pull something out the night before and then I just need to heat it. Otherwise, thawing doesn't usually take too long if you freeze things flat.
Split pea soup freezes really well and is fairly cheap/filling.
Rogan josh, chicken tikka masala and other curries double well, crock pot well and freeze well.
If you do home pizzas, you can double the dough, parbake half of them and top them. Then freeze and you have one of my family's favorite freezer meals.
Also, chicken nuggets are pretty popular kid food. These can be baked, or frozen individually and then baked later (I highly recommend freezing on parchment paper or wax paper of they'll stick to the pan): http://thedomesticman.com/2012/12/27/gluten-grain-and-garbage-free-chick-fil-a-nuggets/#more-3589
We do a fair number of stir fries, too. Those are usually pretty quick, especially if you've precut the veggies or buy frozen stir fry veggies.

Trudie

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Re: GOOD freezer cooking
« Reply #13 on: September 14, 2015, 02:17:13 PM »
I would echo just about everything on this list, especially soups.  But regarding that, I just checked out a great Williams-Sonoma soup cookbook at the library and am working my way through the recipes, many of which freeze well.

Another favorite of my mine is to do pork loin in the crockpot with spices, then shred it for pulled pork sandwiches.  I just brought some out of the freezer and I'm not in the mood for a sandwich so I'm going to make rice to go with it.  I throw veggies in my rice.

TrMama

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Re: GOOD freezer cooking
« Reply #14 on: September 14, 2015, 02:36:01 PM »
LOL about most pre-assembled freezer meals being gross. I completely agree.  I also despise spending lots of time planning, shopping and cooking these.

I do a lot of meals that follow this template: marinated meat, grain cooked in the rice cooker and either a raw, steamed or roasted veggie. The marinade gets added to the meat either before or after it's frozen. Then when I take the meat out to defrost, it marinates at the same time. Grill, broil or pan fry it when you want to eat.

Rice cooker gets set up on the counter in the morning. Add the dry grain (rice, quinoa or barley) and leave the measuring cup next to it. Add water when you arrive home. Often the starch is fries (cooked in an unmustachian Acti-Fry) or potatoes "baked" in the microwave.

Veggies get pre-cut on the weekend after I bring them home from the store. Then all I have to do is toss them with some seasoning and cook. Or, if you're cooking for fussy kids, serve raw. While you're in the kitchen dole out bits of raw veggies to the toddler hanging off your leg to keep him appeased.

Also, stop bathing your toddler every night unless he really needs it. A quick wipe of his face and bottom with a washcloth is a good substitute for the nights when he's kind of dirty, but not gross. Bathing kids every night is exhausting.

1967mama

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Re: GOOD freezer cooking
« Reply #15 on: September 14, 2015, 03:07:42 PM »

Also, stop bathing your toddler every night unless he really needs it. A quick wipe of his face and bottom with a washcloth is a good substitute for the nights when he's kind of dirty, but not gross. Bathing kids every night is exhausting.

+1
« Last Edit: September 14, 2015, 11:31:27 PM by 1967mama »

FIRE Artist

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Re: GOOD freezer cooking
« Reply #16 on: September 14, 2015, 04:37:06 PM »
I recently made some butter chicken freezer "kits". I made a huge batch of sauce and froze it in individual containers, and bagged some chicken breasts marinated in yogurt and tandoori spices which I grew in the freezer.  On the morning of or night before , I pull the sauce and chicken from the freezer to defrost, then I broil or bbq the chicken, cut it up and put in the sauce, heat it all up while some basmati rice cooks in the rice cooker. 

Another thing I did was cook a bunch of ribs in the slow cooker, portioned them up and froze them. They can be thrown frozen under the broiler or on the bbq with your choice of sauce. 

PurposelyVague

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Re: GOOD freezer cooking
« Reply #17 on: September 14, 2015, 06:11:56 PM »
What about a pressure cooker? I don't use one, but I have a friend who swears by hers for speedy but good meals.

Bee21

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Re: GOOD freezer cooking
« Reply #18 on: September 15, 2015, 03:14:51 AM »
stews and casseroles freeze well.
you can make fried rice using the frozen rice and veggies with a fried egg on top in minutes. That's gf.
It is also worth keeping food which can be used in different ways: basic Bolognese sauce=pasta/burritos/chili con carne. Chicken and mushrooms: pasta bake/risotto.

Also I am a big fan of pressure cookers, but on the three days I work I refuse to cook in the evenings, I can't handle even that 15-20 minutes it takes to make a soup. Too much screaming in the background.I reheat the stuff from the freezer. Monday nights we eat leftovers from the weekend (=premeditated leftovers), Tuesday= spaghetti, Wednesday=stew and rice, the rest of the week is whatever I feel like throwing together.

It gets easier once you establish a routine and a set of recipes which you all like. Experiment a bit. Just a warning: if you don't like the dish, there is no point in freezing it for later consumption, it will end up in the bin anyway so save the freezer space ;)

Kitsune

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Re: GOOD freezer cooking
« Reply #19 on: September 17, 2015, 09:23:21 AM »
LOL about most pre-assembled freezer meals being gross. I completely agree.  I also despise spending lots of time planning, shopping and cooking these.

Veggies get pre-cut on the weekend after I bring them home from the store. Then all I have to do is toss them with some seasoning and cook. Or, if you're cooking for fussy kids, serve raw. While you're in the kitchen dole out bits of raw veggies to the toddler hanging off your leg to keep him appeased.

Also, stop bathing your toddler every night unless he really needs it. A quick wipe of his face and bottom with a washcloth is a good substitute for the nights when he's kind of dirty, but not gross. Bathing kids every night is exhausting.

OMG, everyone, thanks for the inspiration!

I had completely forgotten about burritoes (and variations on texmex), or chinese dumplings (and I LOVE those!) or frozen fried rice. Mmmmm. My goal is to have enough of a variety of freezer meals that we don't feel like we're always eating the same thing and sacrificing on something we enjoy, while allowing for more time as a family and less time doing chores. Challenge. :)

Those butter chicken kits, and frozen rib kits, and pulled pork just waiting to be used... SUCH good ideas, you guys. Variety! Woohoo! :)

And yeah, some frozen meals were clearly just not meant to be frozen and are kind of ugh. Texture matters. :)

And with regards to washing the toddler... it's needed. Nightly. She sweats when she sleeps (like, will soak through a towel under her head), and then goes to play in the sandbox and it sticks to her skin. Grubby child = bath. Also the hot water seems to help calm her down and get her to sleep faster, which is pretty nice...


tarheeldan

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Re: GOOD freezer cooking
« Reply #20 on: September 17, 2015, 09:33:03 AM »

Super quick Thai or Japanese curry:

I make rice and put individual portions in Pyrex containers and freeze them.

Then, I cook a little bit of meat e.g. 2 chicken thighs or 2 country style pork ribs that have marinated a day and cut them up into bite size. I mix this with frozen oriental vegetable mix from the local (cheaper, high quality - yay Market Basket) grocery store and freeze individual portions.

Finally, I make a batch of Thai curry and a batch of Japanese curry but keep these in the fridge (they don't freeze well). Defrost rice and veggie/meat mix and combine with curry and microwave. Very fast and tasty dinner.

Roboturner

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Re: GOOD freezer cooking
« Reply #21 on: September 17, 2015, 10:05:09 AM »
Enchiladas with  sams/manager special ground beef or chicken, stretched with black beans and corn (or hominy is really great for this), as well as all the usual fixen's (onions jalapenos etc). With corn tortillas everything is inherently GF (if that's your bag, my SO is celiac so i'm used to it). Anyway, I just made about 20 meals for ~$20.


Keeps in freezer forever - tastes great when reheated