November 10, 2010,
K.B. asks from Battle Creek, MI on May 24, 2009
Easy Frozen Meals
My sister-in-law is due with a baby in June and has a 4 1/2 year old picky eater. :) Cooking is not one of her favorite things, so I was looking for some recipes that are easily frozen for a family of 4. I love cooking, so this is a easy way for me to help her out after the baby arrives.
I plan on making some french toast, waffles, pancakes, and stuff to freeze and put them in ziploc bags. Easy to make and freeze, then pop in the toaster when needed. I am looking for some easy meals for lunch and dinner to freeze! If you have any other suggestions for breakfast...please let me know. It's possible my sister in law may be diabetic after the pregnancy, so I would love low-carb....healthy recipes.
T.A. answers from Grand Rapids on May 24, 2009
I have 5 children and always made food ahead in the freezer when I had a new baby coming too. I have some suggestions that aren't really recipes but maybe you could make use of what I always did.
Buy a boneless ham and cook it then cube it and freeze it in 1 cup packages. Makes great pizza toppings, salad toppings, good in scrambled eggs, scalloped potatoes, mac n cheese, bean or pea soup, or even for a picky eater to nibble on.
Buy a whole turkey, cook it and again cube it up and freeze it in 1 cup packages. (Save and freeze the broth in measured amounts too.) It's good as a salad topping, or it makes a great turkey salad (just add some mayo and celery). I make gravy and put the turkey in it and then serve over mashed potatoes (instant) and my kids love it.
I'm sure you get the idea, I also did the same thing with ground beef, and bacon. Another thing I would do is make up a meatloaf and cook it, slice it, then freeze it in portioned packages for meatloaf sandwiches. I would also use the same meatloaf mixture to make meatballs (using a cookie dough scoop and baking on a cookie sheet at 350 for about 30 to 40 min depending on size of scoop and your oven.) then you can freeze them and when its time to reheat them use the crock pot and what ever sauce you like. I have used spaghetti sauce and then cooked some spaghetti at the last minute when we we were ready in eat, or cook with cream of chicken or mushroom soup and serve over cooked egg noodles or mashed potatoes.
If you can do the work of getting the main ingredients ready to go and waiting for her, I'm sure that the little bit of cooking left to do to finish out the meal will be manageable for her. What a great sister in law you are!
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H.S. answers from Detroit on May 25, 2009
I don't eat frozen meals often, however, I am working on starting my own little "catering" business for small to medium sized events; provided someone could come pick up the meals, I can make dinners for your sister in law; I'm not sure how well my meals would freeze however and I don't actually measure things out. Feel free to email me: ____@____.com
R.P. answers from Detroit on May 25, 2009
Hi K., for my last baby I made a large batch of meatballs and sphagetti sauce. I froze them in smaller containers so we could defrost one and have meatball sandwiches for lunch or defrost a couple and put on some noodles really quick for a dinner. I love Terri's ideas!
D.D. answers from Detroit on May 25, 2009
My family LOVES this low carb meatloaf. This recipe makes 1 loaf.I always double the recipe and freeze 1 when I make it. I do recommend defrosting the meatloaf a day in the fridge so that it cooks evenly, so not exactly from the freezer to the oven, BUT - it makes it very moist and delicious!
Low Carb Turkey meatloaf:
2 lbs ground turkey (I use the frozen roll kind - much cheaper
1/4 cup milk (or beef broth if doing dairy free)
1 egg, beaten
1 cup quick oats
1/2 cup onion chopped fine
1/4 cup mushrooms, OPTIONAL
1/4 cup ketchup
2 squirts mustard
1 tbsp worchestire sauce or soy sauce
1 teaspoon or less salt
pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon italian seasonings
1/2 to 1 teaspoon garlic powder
Defrost turkey, if frozen, and put in large bowl. add all of the other ingredients and mix well with your hands. SHape into loafs and put into loaf pan. At this point they are ready for the freezer, so cover with foil and then plastic wrap. I always label and add instructions to the top.
Take out of freezer the morning of use. Let sit in the refrigerator until defrosted, about 6 hours. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake meatloaf uncovered 55 minutes to 1:10 or until the top is browned and the juices run clear.
L.C. answers from Saginaw on May 28, 2009
You've already received some excellent advice, so I thought I'd just offer some information about freezing in general.
There are some things that change texture so much that freezing them is a bad, bad idea, and others that lose flavour or change colour in disturbing ways.
~ Onions go bitter first, then lose their flavour, so there is no point in putting them in anything that's going to be frozen, even if you usually do
~ Potatoes, sweet potatoes and yams (unless treated to the chemical cocktail used for commercially-prepared potatoes, which as a 'process' isn't labelled as an 'ingredient' -- man, I hate weazly FDA laws!) go black when frozen, even if they're partially cooked
~ I don't even know what happens to green peppers (although not to red or yellow ones?!?), but it's disgusting, so just don't make anything with those at all
~ technically, eggs can be frozen, but they have to be used in baking -- plus, they absorb evil odours from the freezer, so best not to
~ frozen pasta in sauce will continue to absorb moisture as it cools and again as it thaws, so to end up with a good (not mushy, ew canned-pasta) texture, you can just break up spaghetti and throw it in the sauce raw, or only barely cook it and other shapes that are thicker
~ rice also does that, and gets freezer burnt very quickly (it doesn't have a lot of moisture to lose), so only cooking it partly and then ensuring that it is completely covered in sauce when it's frozen will keep it from going strangely grainy or too mushy to tell its rice
~ biscuit toppings for casseroles or cobblers will absorb moisture from the bottom and lose moisture from the top in freezing/thawing process, resulting in a very strange rock-hard, gooey weirdness -- better to make them and bake them part way (like those brown&serve buns) and freeze them separately, well-wrapped, with instructions to heat them separately and then add to the top in the final minutes of baking
~ soups will lose a lot of flavour in the freezer unless they rely on hearty flavours like mushrooms and meats
~ cream soups will separate which makes them look gross but taste similiar when reheated
~ flour-based cream sauces (thickened soups or stews, included) will break and take on a grainy texture that is quite bizarre --better to use pureed beans, cornstarch or tapioca starch (if you can find it --asian markets have it)
~ potatoes in stews and soups will also break down almost completely, which makes for a smoother, thickened texture when reheated, but some varieties go grainy in the process, which is kind of odd --edible, but not very nice
~ date everything -- after about 3 months, most prepared meals will have lost so much flavour, moisture or both that they no longer resemble 'edible food'. The exception to this is tomato-based sauce like chili and spaghetti sauce. The flavours will fade a lot, and my need help with the addition of more herbs or spices when re-heated, but with otherwise be fine
~ include complete re-heating and serving instructions -- I don't think there is much worse than taking something out of the freezer and having no idea how to re-heat it so it's edible... can it be microwaved? should it be thawed before reheating? is there a topping that should be added? can it be stirred? what temperature? how long?
~ include an ingredient list, so if mom finds babe is reacting to something in her milk, or one of the kids comes up with an allergy, they know right away if they can eat this or not... even mustard can be allergenic, so make sure everything is listed
You're a great sister-in-law!
G.B. answers from Detroit on May 25, 2009
Turkey meat loaf, chicken breasts in some kind of lite sauce, whole wheat spagetti in a lite sauce with turkey meatballs or ground turkey or soy protein substitute with a little parmesan baked. Turkey or veggie chili. Breakfast - one of the recipes off the lite Bisquick box.
K.N. answers from Detroit on May 25, 2009
You can do a search on Google and come up with a ton of recipes for doing this. I also have the Dream Dinner's cookbook which is great for doing this as well - it gives you some great dinner menu ideas and includes the amounts of ingredients you would need for 2 people, 4 people or more.
D.P. answers from Dallas on November 10, 2010
One of the most difficult issues we have every week is trying to put food on the table. We can easily go through the motions at times and get in the car and drive our lovely little ones from school to gymnastics and back to home but to create a meal at the end of the day, that requires planning and thought...who has time or energy for that!
I am a foodie through and through but not every meal can be gourmet and if it was, my kids would never eat! So I try and use fresh local ingredients that are in season to prepare delicious meals to keep my kids sitting at the table. Well, my oldest is 4 so I pretty much have to tie him down to his chair to keep him seated but you know what I mean.
Please check out my Market Menu each week for what is on sale in our local grocery stores and a listing of great menu ideas that you can make for your family.
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