Freezer Meals- by now, surely everybody has at least heard of freezer meals, although sometimes, people still don’t quite get the idea.
Some people sneer at frozen casseroles and ‘leftovers,’ but freezer meals don’t have to be casseroles, and they do not need to be baked ahead of time. Some of my favorite freezer meals are crockpot meals where I combine and bag the raw ingredients for a crockpot meal, and on cooking day I can take it out and either put it right into the crockpot, or defrost it the night before and put the thawed ingredients in the crockpot in the morning- and then forget about it until dinner is dome.
Some people say they don’t have the time- but there are ways to do this that don’t take that much time, and in the end, you’re essentially using the same amount of time, only in different places. One way I like to do freezer meals so that it doesn’t take so much energy is to bulk cook each night for a week to ten days- make 3-4 batches of dinner, server one, freeze the others. Do this a few nights in a row and before you know it you have built up a solid back-up rotation of freezer meals.
Freezer meals are also wonderful tools for service and hospitality- when somebody drops in, it’s nice to have a batch of muffins ready made in the freezer, or an extra container of chili or soup to share. Whether there’s a new mom and a life to celebrate, or an untimely and tragic death (something we experienced in our tiny neighborhood just a week or two ago)- people still need to eat, and if you have some extra meals prepared in your freezer, you can be there with a helping hand almost immediately.
Here is probably my easiest ‘freezer’ meal:
A giant pork loin (8 pounds or so, give or take), and a package or two of hamburger buns
Have on hand:
BBQ sauce and condiments.
Sunday morning: put the frozen pork loin in the crockpot on high with a splash of soy sauce, worcestershire sauce, or Bragg’s amino acids. Cook all day. Sunday night, pull the pork apart with a fork, stir in the BBQ sauce, serve on buns.
Good side dishes: cole slaw, popcorn, or green salad and apple slices
This is also a meal that works well prepared fresh, or you can freeze it before you bake it:
Recipe: Florentine Beef Pinwheel
This freezes well, and I have also made miniature versions to go in the Headmaster’s lunches.
It’s basically a glorified meatloaf, but it can look quite elegant, and you can vary the filling for a wide variety of flavors.
1 1/2 pounds of ground meat (beef, venison, turkey, etc)
3/4 cup crumbs – or ground pork rinds
salt to taste
1/8 tsp of pepper
OR: your usual meatloaf recipe.
10 ounce package of frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained (I squeeze a thawed package out like a sponge, squeezing the liquid into a jar and then using that liquid as the base for a light spinach soup)
3/4 cup mozzarella cheese
3 tablespoons parmesan cheese
a teaspoon or two of Italian herbs (parsley, basil, oregano, thyme)
garlic powder to taste
3 tablespoons ketchup
Directions: combine meet, egg, about a teaspoon of salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly/ or make you usual meatloaf and mix the meat well.
Combine the drained spinach, 1/2 cup of mozarella, parmesan cheese, a little more salt, Italian spices, and and the garlic powder.
Spread beef mixture on waxed paper or parchment paper and pat into 14 x 10-inch rectangle. Spread spinach mixture over beef to 3/4-inch of edge on all sides.
In this example we used cheddar cheese because we did not have mozzarella, and we spread it far too close to the edges.
Roll up, jelly-roll fashion, starting at the long end furthest from you. I start here because I am rolling to the edge of the counter, where I will be able to just sort of gently slide the roll into my baking pan. It will tear, but I can push the torn edges back together in the pan. The waxed paper will also tear- that doesn’t mean you did something wrong.
Press beef mixture over spinach filling at both ends to seal. Place loaf, seam side down,
on rack in open roasting pan.
Or you can wrap it in foil put it in a pan to keep the bottom flat and level, and freeze it at this point.
If you are baking it now, bake for forty-five minutes to an hour. It depends on how thin you pressed the meat to begin with. Spread ketchup over loaf if desired; continue baking 15 minutes. Sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup mozzarella cheese over loaf. Sprinkle with additional Italian seasoning, if desired.
We did not do any of that. We just baked it along with some small red potatoes (to use oven heat more efficiently) and then we pulled it from the oven and ate it. My husband declares it the best meatloaf he’s ever had.
This serves six, or perhaps four if you have a teen-aged boy or two. You can divide the meat mixture into four sections and make four mini meatloaves. They only need to bake about 20 minutes each, and they also freeze well.
You can vary the fillings- mushrooms, mashed potatoes, swiss cheese and chard. You should dice the onions much smaller than we did.=)
Leftovers, if you have any, are tasty in sandwiches, or you can slice thin or chop and put on pizza.
Now it’s your turn!
You may also enjoy my Kindle books:
The Four Moms parenting book, of course:
Ten Low-Carb Snacks and Quick Meals Okay, actually, there’s a little more than ten, and they aren’t just low-carb, they are also sugar-free, gluten-free, grain-free!
Required Poems for Reading and Memorizing (annotated); Charming collection of older poems that you and the kids just might love.
101 Answers to the Summertime, “Mom, I’m Bored” Blues; help your kids use their free time creatively, productively, to create, to learn, to grow- to contribute. This is not your average ‘keep the kids out of your hair’ book.