Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Freezer Meals

Well Sarah the Heavenly, expecting a Boy Bundle soon, asked for ideas for freezer meals. I realize that while I absolutely stink at most things menu-planning, I do in fact have a faithful arsenal of freezer meal options. Instead of just posting tons of comments over there, I figured I would share some of our favorites right here in case any others are interested.

I will say that there are no allergy considerations in these, and that most of these are similar and VERY easy.

Banana Cottage Cheese pancakes - (note: these have an odd texture, so I did not like them right after giving birth or in early preg. However, that's just me so I thought I'd share cuz they're a protein breakfast package.)

3 eggs, separated
2 cups cottage cheese
1/2 C flour
1/2 C shredded all-bran cereal
2-3 sliced bananas
butter for cooking

Beat egg whites until stiff but not dry and set aside. In another bowl with same beater, beat cottage cheese and egg yolks until nearly smooth Or maybe a little smoother than that. Or maybe in a blender for the very smoothest texture. Gradually beat in flour and cereal. Stir in sliced bananas. Fold in egg whites. Melt butter in skillet and cook a few minutes on each side. Check middle for doneness. (very good served with warm maple syrup!)

Green Noodle Casserole -

1 lb ground beef (either start with extra lean, or pre-brown it and drain fat)
2 potatoes, diced
1 onion diced
2 - 15oz cans tomato sauce
1 tsp basil
1 package spinach fettuccine (hence the green)
1 cup jack/mozzarella cheese
1 lrg package cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 C sour cream
1/2 C milk

brown beef and potatoes, add garlic and onion. Add tomato sauce and basil, cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Cook noodles and drain. Spoon meat into casserole dish, top wth noodles (sprinkle with cheese.) WHIP the cream cheese, sour cream, and milk until smooth. (a blender works pretty well for this.) Pour over noodles. Cover and freeze until ready to cook. Bake at 350 for 40 minutes. (if still frozen it will take longer, obviously. uncover for last few minutes for nice browning on top.)

Mock Ravioli - frozen spinach is one of the best bargains in the grocery - great nutrition for CHEAP. I'm not a huge spinach fan, so mixing it in like this is great!

2 - 10oz packages frozen chopped spinach
8 oz large pasta shells, cooked and drained
1 sm garlic clove
1/4 C parsley
1/2 C bread crumbs
1/4 tsp sage
1/3 C parmesan ( I use MORE)
Ricotta cheese to taste/texture
1/4 C oil
2 eggs beaten
3 cups red meat sauce (or meatless if you want to make it a meatless dish)
(grated mozzarella cheese)

thaw spinach and drain well. Combine garlic, parsley, bread crumbs, sage, parmesan, and oil. Add in spinach and mix well. Stuff each shell with mixture, place in greased dish, cover with sauce (and cheese.) freeze. Bake at 350 for ~ 40 minutes. (longer if frozen...)

Crescent Italian Bake - red sauce and meat with crescent rolls on top. What's not to love?!?!

1 lb ground beef (again, either lean or pre-cooked and drained.)
2 lg potatoes, sliced/diced
black pepper
1 jar marinara sauce (or if you batch-cooked your own)
1 C shredded Mozzarella (or jack or cheddar)
1 can black olives (I never add these, hubby hates them)
2 cans crescent rolls
1 C sour cream (or cream cheese, or ranch dressing)
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp basil

Brown ground beef, potatoes, and drain. Add pepper and marinara, simmer ~10 minutes. (if going to bake same night, then prepare the crescent rolls here. Otherwise, just eyeball the simmer.) combine sour cream with herbs, spread mixture on open crescent roll dough and roll crescent normally. Put beef into casserole dish. (will fill 9x13) sprinkle with cheese and arrange rolled dough on top. Bake at 375 for 40 minutes or until gold brown and undersides of rolls are done. IF GOING TO FREEZE: do NOT add the crescent rolls until defrosted, then bake as normal. The dough gets funky otherwise and doesn't cook right.

Imperial Baked Chicken - straight from Southern Living cookbook of our mom's generation, this is one of my faves. LOVE it. Easy to prepare whenever, and goes with any veggie or side you want.

6 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1/4 C parmesan cheese
salt and pepper
1/4 C milk
1/2 C butter, melted
1 clove minced/crushed garlic
juice of 1 lemon (or equivalent)

Combine parmesan, parsley, salt, pepper. Set aside. Dredge chicken in milk, then in cheese mixture, place in greased baking dish. Combine butter, garlic, lemon juice and drizzle on top. Sprinkle with paprika. Bake at 350 for 40 minutes.

Muffins - take whatever favorite bread or muffin recipe you have. I like banana nut, cinnamon-zucchini, and cranberry walnut in particular, and make them muffins. Thanks to my MIL I now add some whole wheat flour, ground flaxseed, applesauce instead of some of the eggs to make them super-duper-dense-powerful-jump-up-and-clean-something-with-a-smile good for you! Bake the whole batch (might as well double it!) and then freeze in freezer bags in packs of 4-6. Take them out every couple of days, or whenever you feel like you might want a few more. Once thawed normally in the fridge they taste as good as fresh, and are a nice treat for breakfast that isn't cereal.


Each of these dishes is a favorite for different reasons, but I find that they all freeze well and appeal to me even after a few months sitting there. Even after having a baby. They are all paired well with WINE, which is especially important after having a baby.

None of them reflect any amazing culinary talent, which is also why I like them. There are plenty of wonderful fresh-ingredient pastas and everyone has a favorite recipe for lasagna, but when it comes to my go-to list for stocking my freezer, these always have a place.

Anyone else have great ideas? Comment or link to your own post; I'm always interested in trying new ideas!