“Stock up your pantry and your freezer with things that aren’t perishable: Your favorite jar of tomato sauce that lists ‘tomato’ as the first ingredient, lots of grains, olive oils, vinegars, tomato pastes, onions, shallots. When you go to the store, you only have to pick up meats and produce.”– Giada De Laurentii.
The Italian – American kitchen goddess sure has her basics figured out. With our hectic lifestyle, the freezer can be our best friend for nutritious and home-made meals. Frozen dinners, stashed away in the freezer, makes life easier and helps us avoid the mindless calories of high fat takeout.
Top 5 Freezer Friendly Meal Ideas:
Frozen food is essentially a western concept, but it has caught on in India in the recent years. The increasing number of women foraying into the corporate world, and managing home and office has become a challenge. Well-planned meals can help ease your cooking burden. Let’s look at a few meal ideas that can be frozen, reheated, and put on the table pronto.
1. Chicken Meatballs:
Chicken meatballs can dress up any dish. It can be used in pastas, soups and even added to gravies for a main course.
- 500 gms ground chicken.
- 1 egg.
- 1/2 cup processed cheese.
- 1/2 cup breadcrumbs/ bread soaked and then minced in the grinder.
- 2 cloves of minced garlic.
- 2 teaspoons fresh basil and oregano mix.
- 1/2 teaspoon salt.
- 2 tablespoons oil.
- Mix all the ingredients except oil.
- Make a smooth mixture.
- Make small ball and lay on a greased baking tray.
- Brush with oil and bake at 450F for 15-20 minutes.
- Freeze cooked meatballs.
- Invest in zip lock bags for easy storage.
- Keep it in the fridge overnight.
2. Stuffed Enchiladas:
Jazz up extra rotis with an array of fillings!
- 6 rotis.
- 1 cup processed cheese.
- Fillings like minced chicken and veggies.
- Start by pouring tomato sauce (buy it from the store).
- Then lay rotis on top and stuff with filling (pre cooked).
- Top with cheese and bake at 450F till cheese starts bubbling.
- Cover with cling film after cooling, and then freeze it.
- Reheat in the morning for an easy breakfast or a filling lunch.
3. Vegetable Au Gratin:
The goodness of vegetables in a low fat bechamel (white sauce) topped with cheese for that extra dose of calcium.
- 2 cups mixed vegetables like beans, carrots and potatoes boiled but not mushy.
- 2 cups white sauce(made with low fat milk and 2 tbsp of refined flour and 2 tbsp butter.
- 1 cup cheese.
- Herb mix and spices as required.
- Layer the vegetables and sauce and perk up with spices and herbs.
- Layer cheese and bake at 450F till bubbly.
- Cool and cover with cling film.
- Freeze it overnight.
4. Roasted Tomato And Eggplant Soup:
Soups can be your best friend and are easy enough to cook in large batches. Invest in a few airtight containers and freeze. Thaw overnight. This Vitamin Rich soup is excellent for the little ones.
- 1.5 kgs plum tomatoes, (about 12).
- 500 gms carrots, cut into pieces.
- 10 garlic cloves.
- 4 tablespoons oil.
- Salt and ground pepper as per taste.
- 1 large eggplant cut into chunks.
- Boiled chickpeas.
- 2 teaspoons curry powder.
- Basil and oregano (dried herbs for taste).
- Prepare two trays.
- On one tray mix tomatoes, carrots and garlic tossed in oil and spices.
- In the other tray toss eggplant and chickpeas with spices.
- Bake both at 450F till soft.
- Make puree of the tomato mixture and heat.
- Stir in the eggplant mix.
- Make it thin with water and simmer.
- Season it. Let it cool, and then freeze.
5. Carrot And Coriander Soup:
This is a mouthwatering soup, which will suit all the palettes. It’s mild and full of vitamins.
- 450g carrots chopped.
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil.
- 1 onion chopped.
- 1 potato, chopped.
- 1.2litres vegetable stock.
- Coriander for garnishing.
- Fry the onions, potatoes and carrots.
- Add stock and bring to a boil.
- Cook till softened around 20 minutes.
- Season with spices.
- Cool and make a puree.
- Garnish with coriander.
Freezing meals for later can be really convenient—whether you work away from your home or are a home maker. Invest in BPA free and freezer safe containers to freeze soups and other meals. Label them with dates and name of the dish for convenience. Take a deep breath and thaw!
Have you ever frozen your meals? Do you have tips? Do share with us.