As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve been spending many of my waking hours in the kitchen cooking for the future. I know it’s not that unusual for expectant mamas to make a few meals to have on hand for after the baby comes. But, I think my preparation has become more of an obsession than a precaution.
When T-Rex was born, no one brought us any meals. It’s not that we didn’t have any friends. It’s that we didn’t have many friends with kids and those that did have kids had newborns like us.
After Screech arrived, only two or three friends came by with food. I didn’t really mind since we had gift cards or money for take-out. We lived in an area with lots of restaurants, and this gave us plenty of choice (and convenience) the first few weeks.
Unfortunately, we won’t have that luxury this time around. Takeout options for us are pretty much limited to pizza, McDonalds, Burger King, Subway, and Chinese food that’s full of fat but devoid of any flavor (Germans are totally into bland). Subway and pizza are all right, but who wants to eat that every other night?
If we do end up with some meals from friends (and that’s a big IF considering it’s summer vacation and almost everyone we know will be gone), I am still left with the embarrassing fact that I am incredibly picky. The list of things I don’t eat is simply pathetic. I’m trying hard to broaden my horizons, but I am sure there are certain things I will never be able to eat unless truly starving.
So, I set out to fill what little space I do have with the most food possible.
Also, I asked friends to let us store some meals in their freezers. Most Germans have small freezers, so I had little expectation of anyone having free space. However, I was pleasantly surprised, and I’ve been able to give about half of what I’ve made to others to store in their homes until the baby arrives. That meal is then their ticket to come by and say hello to our new addition.
In order to make the most of their freezers and mine, I’ve found that the key to maximizing space is to put everything in zip-top storage bags and freeze flat. No jars, and no containers of any shape or size. I realize this isn’t great for the environment, but this cook-ahead frenzy is a one-time thing. I rinse out and reuse any plastic zip-top bags that I can. Those that I cannot reuse, I recycle.
I always make sure to write on the outside what will be inside the bag, the date I made it, and reheating instructions. Then, I fill the bag with the meal.
It’s helpful for space and for taste to get as much air out of the bag as you can before freezing. Close the bag almost all the way, and then stick a drinking straw in the last little open bit. Suck as much air out as you can, and quickly seal the bag. Lay flat, and freeze right away.
For casserole-type meals (see Pueblo Corn Pie and Lasagna Casserole below), line the baking dish you will use with several sheets of foil and allow overhang. Fill the pan with the prepared food. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze. Once frozen, remove from the dish and fold the foil over the top. Put in a labeled freezer zip-top bag, and freeze. When ready to eat, it will fit easily in the pan and also have little to no clean-up!
I found most of my recipes on Pinterest, but some are dishes that we regularly eat in our house. Many of the websites on Pinterest listing make-ahead meals contain ingredients that are expensive (seafood) or we don’t eat (pork). As such, you may find more options than I did if you decide to go on a mass cook-n-freeze marathon. I’ll post a list of the recipes I used with links below.
While on Pinterest, I found a great deal of links to dry mix recipes. Many of them I couldn’t make because I have yet to find powdered milk (update – found it at Kaufland!). But, some of them were totally doable. I mixed up three jars of homemade Hamburger Helper, and four jars of pancake mix. I labeled each with directions for Doc Sci to follow since he will be doing most of the “cooking
Since I’ve never done this freezer meal madness before, I have no idea how these meals will taste once we actually eat them. I’ll post an update with the verdict for each after we’ve consumed them all. And maybe the convenience of having some meals in the freezer ready to go will be so attractive that I continue the practice (albeit on a much smaller scale) after we’ve gone from four to five.
Freezer Meals I Made
- Pasta Sauce from this pizza recipe which can also be used for homemade pizza (the jarred stuff in Germany is expensive and full of sugar)
- Pueblo Corn Pie
- Potato Soup
- Lasagna Casserole
- Homemade Pizza Pockets (but I used Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day dough)
- Teriyaki Chicken (I tested this recipe for the first time this last week – since we liked it, I’ll be freezing the chicken raw in the marinade with carrots and red bell pepper)
- Twice Baked Potatoes (a bit bulky – so I sent these with a friend to put in her freezer)
- Black Bean Burgers (these did NOT turn out well for me at all – but I am still going to eat them anyway)
- Lemony Lentil Soup (a family favorite but we make ours with leeks since we can’t get kale here – I serve this over basmati rice to stretch the meal)
- Creamy Turkey Wild Rice Soup
- End of Summer Harvest Soup
- Corn Chowder
- Lemon Chicken (an old recipe similar to Chicken Piccata without the capers – I froze the chicken separately from the cooked spaghetti and steamed vegetables mixed in with the lemon sauce)
- Taco Meat (with lots of extra veggies – I used zucchini, onions, and red bell pepper)
- Marinated, Grilled Chicken (fully cooked – about 8 cutlets)
- Roasted Vegetables (zucchini, bell pepper, onion – for quick omelets and vegetarian quesadillas)
- Cooked Black Beans
- Cooked Pinto Beans
- Whole Grain Blueberry Muffins
- Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough
Other Lists of Freezer Meals
Have you made any freezer friendly meals? If so, would you do it again? How was the taste?