Thursday, 2 February 2012

Freezer Meals


Preparing meals ahead of time saves time, money and sometimes my sanity.   When I come home from work tired and I just can't face cooking dinner I will get a precooked meal from the freezer, defrost in the microwave, reheat and serve.
Moroccan Chicken
Another way to make dinner time easier is to prepare your raw ingredients and then freeze them in ziplock bags.  I like to have quite a few of these in the freezer to help me produce a healthy home cooked meal for my family even on those days when I don't feel like cooking.  That way we save money on rushing out to buy takeout and we know what is in the food we eat.


Bagged separately and ready for the freezer
 Usually I get one of these meals out of the freezer the night before and defrost it in the fridge overnight, then in the morning I can pop it in the slow cooker to cook away while I'm at work.  I come home from work and presto, dinner is ready.  Ahhhh!  If it is not a slow cooker meal then I get it out of the freezer in the morning and by the time I come home it is defrosted and ready to cook on the stove top or in the oven.


Chicken, spices and vegetables all bagged separately

Here are a couple of  recipes below that are good examples of how to go about pre-freezing your meals. 


Moroccan Chicken

Ingredients

·       6 chicken thighs
·       3 potatoes, (use sweet potatoes for a Paleo diet)
·       1 can diced tomatoes (or 2-3 large fresh tomatoes, diced
·       3 carrots or parsnips, quartered
·       1 large onion, finely diced
·       2 cloves garlic, finely diced
·       1 red capsicum, diced 
·       1 cup peas (if desired)
·        parsley (1/4 cup fresh or 2 tbs. dried)
·       1 1/2 tsp. Paprika
1   1 tsp ground Cumin
     1 tsp ground Coriander 
·       a few pinches of saffron, if you've got it
·       salt and pepper to taste

Method
Place chicken pieces in a large ziplock bag.  Place prepared and cut vegetables in a separate smaller ziplock or freezer bag - tomatoes, carrots, onion, garlic, capsicum and peas.
In a smaller ziplock bag place dried parsley, paprika, saffron, salt & pepper.
Place the bag with the vegetables inside the one with the chicken.  Tape the small bag to the large bag and write a label so you know what the recipe is when you come to cook it.  Freeze this until you are ready to cook.

Peel and cut potatoes into large pieces and place on the bottom of the crockpot.  Empty bags into crock pot frozen and cook on low for at least 6 hours. Stir occasionally to combine flavours.
Add water if necessary to keep mixture wet and saucy (maybe 2 cups total by the end of the process). Add potatoes, carrots/parsnips, and peas and cook for another 20-30 minutes, or until potatoes and carrots are completely cooked. Salt and pepper as you like. 

I find that putting the ingredients in the slow cooker frozen slows the cooking time even longer and it is less likely to dry out.

Now, if you want to eat in authentic Moroccan style, dish onto a large plate and serve with lots of pita or flat bread (or something crusty like French works well).


Chicken Stir fry (Pre frozen)
Ingredients
  • 2 chicken breasts cut into strips
  • 1 onions sliced lengthwise
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Fresh grated or sliced ginger
  • 2 carrots sliced julienne
  • 2 cups frozen green beans
  • Broccoli or Cauliflower florets
  • 1 tbs. Soy Sauce
  • 1 tbs. Oyster Sauce
  • 1 tbs. Olive Oil or coconut oil
  • Undon thick noodles - (omit if on a Paleo diet)
Directions
Place chicken strips in a large ziplock bag.   Onions, carrots, beans, broccoli etc in another.
In a small ziplock bag place oil, garlic, ginger, soy sauce and oyster sauce.
Place the small bag inside the large bag and write a label so you know what the recipe is when you come to cook it.
Defrost
Empty contents of small bag into the larger bag and smoosh around until well mixed.
Place everything into a wok and cook on high for 10 to 15 minutes.

2 comments:

  1. Such a great time saver. My husband and I pre-package and freeze our meats into portions so we can just defrost the right amount each time. We also try and cook extra so that we have leftovers whenever possible. Makes it so much easier!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks for the tip Natalie. I've often wondered if I should freeze in individual portions too but having a large family at most meals it seemed a senseless option, but now that most are grown and left home it might be time I rethink that strategy.

    ReplyDelete

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