Freezable Make-ahead Dinners

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-05-2008
Freezable Make-ahead Dinners
14
Mon, 02-22-2010 - 9:35am
If anyone has any ideas (with recipes, if possible) for make-ahead, freezable dinners, I'd love to hear about them. I'll most likely be in the hospital for four days when I have this baby and my Mom will be here to help out with out girls while I and the baby are recovering in the hospital. So I'd like to have a few meals ready to go so she and/or hubby can throw them in the oven and just warm them up. I've heard lasagne can be made ahead and frozen although I've never tried it. Any ideas or suggestions you ladies have would be greatly appreciated... We generally try to eat healthfully so anything that is low/lower in fat and has lots of fibre and veggies (which probably don't freeze well?) would be awesome. I don't mind making an exception here and there so anything you know of would be appreciated, but healthy meals are ideal. : ) Thanks so much!!!

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iVillage Member
Registered: 05-01-2003
Mon, 02-22-2010 - 10:07am

Do you have any Dream Dinners franchises in your area? The food is pretty good and you can pick on line from a selection of meal choices. Send your husband to assemble the meals a few weeks before you deliver and just keep the meals in the freezer until you need them. Most meals you just pop in the oven to heat, so brain surgery cooking required.

Otherwise, chili, soups and casseroles freeze well. Also, if you have a crock pot, there are many simple recipes where you just dump the ingredients into the crock pot in the morning and by evening you have a nice meal. Many just require a protein, can of soup or packet of onion dip.

Good luck.

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-05-2008
Mon, 02-22-2010 - 10:31am
Thanks so much for the reply! I never heard of Dream Dinners. I'll have to check them out on line. I live in a relatively small town in Ontario so I doubt they're here, but I'm still curious to see what they have to offer (on line). Yes, I have a crock pot, but I'm trying to eliminate any prep work like cutting veggies, etc., for my Mom. I'm sure she'd be willing to do it, but I also don't want her to have to deal with the clean up involved with the crock pot, cutting boards, etc.. Ideally, one-dish dinners like casseroles, lasagnes, and soups would be ideal. I just don't know what kinds of soups (or even casseroles) freeze well. I make an awesome asian chicken noodle soup but the main ingredient is napa cabbage. When I tried freezing a batch, it thawed rather disgustingly. So I was hoping to get some tried and true favs. I also make a really yummy sweet-potato chipotle pepper soup but I haven't tried freezing it so I don't know what the outcome would be... Thanks again for the suggestions.

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iVillage Member
Registered: 04-27-2006
Mon, 02-22-2010 - 11:59am

I have a bunch of meals already in the freezer since I typically am gone from 7:30 am- 7 pm when I'm working.

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iVillage Member
Registered: 01-23-2010
Mon, 02-22-2010 - 4:41pm

If you or your kids like pasta with garlic, pesto is an easy thing to make ahead

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iVillage Member
Registered: 05-01-2003
Mon, 02-22-2010 - 4:53pm

Sorry that there are no Dream Dinners in Canada, but perhaps if you have a large super market, their deli section has some pre-made dishes that can be frozen.

In general, a few things that may not hold up well in the freezer are creams and high water content veggies. For cream based soups, the best way to avoid separation is to heat very slowly and never arrive at the boiling point. For veggies, its more of a texture thing. I suggest pureeing your veggies in a soup ahead of time so they are already mushy.

Also, you can do wonderful things with those rotisserie chickens from the super market. Eat them as is, or add them to soups, casseroles or my favorite enchiladas. Also, baked potatoes are super easy. Just poke them with a fork, wrap in foil and bake for an hour. To have your mom avoid chopping veggies, some of the frozen veggies are pre-cut and they are just as good as fresh (broccoli, green beans, corn, etc)

Since you were asking for recipes, here are are two healthy veggie-based soups that I like:

Curry Ginger Butternut Squash Soup

2 teaspoons vegetable oil
3 tablespoons finely chopped peeled fresh ginger
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons curry powder
1 cup mirin (sweet rice wine)
6 cups (1/2-inch) cubed peeled butternut squash (about 2 1/2 pounds)
6 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
2 1/2 cups (1/2-inch) cubed peeled celeriac (celery root; 1 to 1 1/2 pounds)
2 teaspoons thawed orange juice concentrate
1 teaspoon Sriracha (hot chile sauce, such as Huy Fong)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup plain low-fat yogurt
2 teaspoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Preparation
Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add ginger and garlic; sauté 90 seconds. Add curry; cook 15 seconds, stirring constantly. Add mirin; cook until liquid is reduced to 1/2 cup (about 4 minutes). Add squash, broth, and celeriac; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes or until tender.

Place one-fourth of squash mixture in a blender; process until smooth. Pour pureed squash mixture through a sieve over a large bowl, reserving liquid; discard solids. Repeat procedure in 3 more batches with remaining squash mixture. Stir in orange juice concentrate, Sriracha, and salt. Dollop 1 tablespoon yogurt over each serving; sprinkle with parsley.

Ginger Carrot Soup

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
½ cup minced onion
¼ cup minced peeled fresh ginger
3 cups (or more) chicken stock or canned low-salt chicken broth
4 cups sliced peeled carrots (about 1 1/2 pounds)
1 cup orange juice
½ cup half and half
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ cup matchstick-size strips peeled carrot (for garnish, optional)
1 tablespoon matchstick-size strips peeled fresh ginger (for garnish, optional)

Heat oil in heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion and 1/4 cup minced ginger and sauté until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add 3 cups chicken stock and 4 cups sliced carrots. Cover and simmer until carrots are tender, about 30 minutes.

Working in batches, puree mixture in blender or processor. Return soup to saucepan. Mix in orange juice, then half and half. Cook over low heat 5 minutes. Mix in ground cinnamon. Season soup to taste with salt and pepper. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Bring to simmer before continuing, thinning with more stock if necessary.) Ladle soup into bowls. Top soup with carrot and ginger strips, if desired, and serve.

Good luck.

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-11-2010
Mon, 02-22-2010 - 4:57pm

I agree that soups and stews are great for making ahead and freezing. Lasagna is actually my go-to dish when I want to freeze something for later. Anything pasta should freeze well. Quiches and frittatas work well, too.


Melinda


 

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-23-2010
Mon, 02-22-2010 - 5:21pm
When I
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iVillage Member
Registered: 03-05-2008
Mon, 02-22-2010 - 5:47pm
Oh, thank you sooooo much!!! I can't wait to try both the soups! Awesome, awesome, awesome! Thanks for the reminder about the baked potatoes and rotisserie chicken, too -- and for the tips about high-water content veggies. That explains why my chicken noodle soup didn't freeze very well since the main ingredient is cabbage... Thanks again so very much for taking the time to type the two recipes. I greatly, greatly appreciate it and will be trying them soon (the ginger carrot soup sounds especially yummy!). : )

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iVillage Member
Registered: 03-05-2008
Mon, 02-22-2010 - 5:49pm
I think you're right -- lasagne will have to be one of the mainstays for my mom and family. Who doesn't love lasagne, right???

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iVillage Member
Registered: 03-05-2008
Mon, 02-22-2010 - 5:57pm
Ahhh, pesto. Can you believe I never made pesto?!?! I think I'll have to try that for when my Mom is here. My girls LOVE pasta and my Mom LOVES nuts so I think I'll try making a few different ones, but definitely the classic basil, garlic, pine nuts, and EVOO pesto. I also just saw a recipe for one on one of my favorite shows, America's Test Kitchen, that sounded really interesting. It was from a small town just outside Sicily. I can't remember what was in it (pregnancy brain!) but the recipe is supposedly available on their website so I'll definitely have to check it out. I never, ever would've thought to freeze pesto -- what a great idea! Thanks so much!

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