Prepared Meals for Your Freezer

March 3, 2020

Preparing food ahead to store in the freezer has long been an economical time-saver, and a way to preserve the best of whatever happens to be in season. Whether you do it yourself, with friends, or simply make a large batch of dinner once in awhile and tuck away the leftovers for another night, when you're trying to eat well, a little something stashed away in the freezer is great insurance against take-out.

frozen pastryItems that contain some moisture, like soups, stews, sauces and preserves freeze very well, as do baked goods — sliced bread is easy to freeze and use straight from the freezer to make sandwiches or pop into the toaster. Doughs also freeze well — if you make a batch of cookies but don’t need two dozen at a time, you can freeze half (in individual scoops, or shaped into a log to slice and bake), or double the batch if you want to tuck some away for another day. It’s also easy to double a pastry recipe while you’re at it, and have a disk tucked away for pie emergencies.

Here are a few simple larger-batch meals to make ahead and tuck away to alleviate some of the work when life gets busy, or to make when you want the benefit of leftovers. All can be frozen in any serving size you like — individual servings are perfect to bring to work for lunch, or to reheat when not everyone will be eating together, or if you have a small family of two or three, leftovers can be portioned accordingly.  

broccoli cheddar soupBroccoli & Cheese Soup
In a large pot, sauté a large chopped onion in a drizzle of oil (and dab of butter, if you like) until the onion is soft. Add a few cloves of garlic and cook for a minute, then add two heads of fresh broccoli (or one broccoli, one cauliflower), roughly chopped - chop the stalks and add it too.

Add 1-2 L chicken stock, bring to a simmer and cook for 20-30 minutes, until the broccoli is very soft. Add 2 cups grated sharp cheddar and 1 cup of cream (heavy or half & half), remove the pot from the heat and blend with a hand-held immersion blender (or transfer in batches to puree in a traditional blender) until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.

Cool, then refrigerate or freeze. Makes about 15 servings.

To reheat: thaw in the fridge, or place directly from the freezer into a saucepan set over medium heat.


chicken curryChicken Curry
Remove the meat from a roasted chicken from the deli, and chop or shred it. (If you like, place the carcasses in a pot, cover with water and bring to a simmer. Add any veggie ends and onion skins to the pot as you cook, and after an hour, strain the stock, cool and refrigerate or freeze.)

In a large, heavy skillet, sauté a chopped onion in a drizzle of oil until soft; add 2-3 crushed garlic cloves, 1 Tbsp grated fresh ginger and 2 tsp curry paste or powder and cook for another minute.

Add 2-3 cups chopped firm veggies, such as carrots, cauliflower, peppers or sweet potato. Cook for a few minutes, then add a 14 oz can of diced tomatoes and another of coconut milk, and bring to a simmer.

Add 2-3 cups more fragile veggies, such as peas, asparagus, or chopped spinach or kale. Cook for a few minutes, until the vegetables are just tender, add salt and adjust the seasonings, then stir in the chicken.

Cool and freeze. Makes about 15 servings.

To reheat: thaw in the fridge, or place directly from the freezer into a saucepan set over medium heat. 


Sloppy JoesSloppy Joes
In a large, heavy skillet, sauté two chopped onions in a drizzle of oil until soft; add 2 crushed garlic cloves and 2 lb lean ground beef.

Cook, breaking up the meat with a spoon, until it's no longer pink. Add a chopped or coarsely grated zucchini and/or 1-2 carrots and cook for another minute or two. Add one 19 oz (540 mL) can diced tomatoes, one 14 oz (398 mL) can crushed tomatoes, 1/2 cup ketchup, 2 Tbsp brown sugar and 2 tsp chili powder. If you like, add 1/4 cup dry red lentils to boost fibre and protein — they will absorb the liquid as they cook, and blend right in.

Bring to a simmer and cook until the mixture is thickened and more uniform.

Cool completely and freeze. Makes about 12 servings.

Reheat over medium heat on the stovetop and serve over split buns, biscuits or cornbread.

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