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Cronker

Members' ideas for ready to eat meals

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Hello all

I have been providing portioned, ready to defrost and reheat meals for a very time poor family member. He has now told his friends and it looks like it could become a cottage business for me (with all the associated headaches that will entail!)

He is loving what I already provide, which goes along the lines of curries, stir frys and casserole type dishes.

Also, lasagne and pasta meals.  I'm not a real chef, but my food is sophisticated and above novice level.  I have been told many times that I'm a skilled cook.  Intricate menu prep doesn't phase me, and I (embarrassingly) own just about every tool needed.

I want to keep my menu exciting and moving, so any advice or ideas for meals that freeze and reheat well would be most gratefully accepted from me in this thread.

thanks in advance.


Edited by Smithy Corrected title punctuation (log)
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I do this a lot, mostly as a way to preserve leftovers, or when I'm prepping something that I know will make more than we want, I'll prep up to the final cooking step and then freeze one batch and cook the other. Among them:

 

  • Choucroute garnie. I make a big pot, then portion out and freeze. Reheats like a charm.
  • Chicken pot pie (or any other kind of pot pie). Cook filling, then assemble and top with crust. Freeze unbaked.
  • Carbonnades a la flamande. Again, a big pot, and freeze over the starch of your choice (I like grits, but noodles work well, too).
  • Gumbo or shrimp creole over rice.
  • Red beans over rice.
  • Enchiladas, with refried beans.

Basically, I find I can freeze and then reheat/cook most anything that is not heavy with cream or eggs. Small portions of either seem to work OK, but I've seen a definite degradation in quality in things like, say, a quiche. 

 

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This is always a subject near and dear to my heart.  I always try to make at least twice what the two of us will eat at one meal.  And there's pretty much nothing that I can't freeze...as says kayb.   

Lasagna, Moussaka, Spanakopita, Bobotie, Meatballs, all kinds of soups, Mafe, Piccadillo, Enchiladas (no, not traditional...a Tex-Mex casserole), Tortiere, many Chinese dishes...I could probably keep on going but that should suffice for now and others will have lots of ideas.  Oh, and Tomato Sauce...a kind of generic which can be combined with spices and so on for Mexican, Greek, Italian.   DH makes that one.    

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7 hours ago, Darienne said:

This is always a subject near and dear to my heart.  I always try to make at least twice what the two of us will eat at one meal.  And there's pretty much nothing that I can't freeze...as says kayb.   

Lasagna, Moussaka, Spanakopita, Bobotie, Meatballs, all kinds of soups, Mafe, Piccadillo, Enchiladas (no, not traditional...a Tex-Mex casserole), Tortiere, many Chinese dishes...I could probably keep on going but that should suffice for now and others will have lots of ideas.  Oh, and Tomato Sauce...a kind of generic which can be combined with spices and so on for Mexican, Greek, Italian.   DH makes that one.    

Freezing leftovers is where this all started!  There's only two of us in my home but I just can't seem to not make more than enough.

I should say that I also make from scratch naan bread and a range of condiments that aren't frozen.  I think it's really important to provide a full meal without cutting corners.  Everything is from scratch (ok, I don't mill my own flour!).

 I have now been asked to come up with some menu items for his kids (single dad with two kids and three jobs!) - he wants them to eat healthier,  but understandably is concerned about high spice content.

thanks for the ideas so far

how well would the filo on a spanakopita hold up upon being frozen and thawed?


Edited by Cronker (log)
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Don't overlook soup. Many soups freeze well, reheat easily, and can make a nice meal. (Freeze sliced bread or rolls to go with.)

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17 hours ago, Cronker said:

how well would the filo on a spanakopita hold up upon being frozen and thawed?

 

I'm was instantly curious about this also. @Darienne


Edited by Captain (log)

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No problem at all.  The phyllo on the Spanakopita can become a bit flakier than before freezing...but is there anyone out there who cares about it?  It's so delicious and the freezing makes no difference to the taste or texture (in our books). 

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8 hours ago, MelissaH said:

Don't overlook soup. Many soups freeze well, reheat easily, and can make a nice meal. (Freeze sliced bread or rolls to go with.)

The problem with soup is that the client I'm supplying is a very big unit -  in the realm of bodybuilder and bouncer.

 I'm supplying ten meals a fortnight, giving him space for eating out or naughty take away.  Regardless of this, however, it's my experience that Soup is seen as a cheap option and I just know it wouldn't fill him.

He has a menu order form which gives him about 14 meal options, but I would like to change some as we go along.

I also have a "chefs special" where I can experiment with dishes and if he really likes them, it can go on the regular menu.  I did that with a Madras Beef which he raved about.

My food cost and small amounts of overhead is priced in, and a small amount for my time, but I'm not getting rich here.

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Could you please give me some advice on freezing mashed potatoes?  Does it work or would microwaving them make them watery or separate from the butter and cream?

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Agree with Darienne.  Phyllo freezes beautifully.  I've had the best luck with folding up the spanakopitas, brushing them generously with butter, letting the butter set up in the fridge, and then portioning them out as desired into bags before freezing. The butter acts as a protective coating during handling, and eases just sliding them from the freezer to a baking sheet.

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For the kid-friendly, maybe pulled pork and roast chicken?  Those are reliable for my kids.   I'll be watching for other kid ideas - this is something that seems to always be changing.  We're at the age now where everyone eats dinner at a different time, and I love the idea of having a stash of single serve healthier items.  

 

I've not tried freezing regular mashed potatoes, but I have a couple of similar potato casserole recipes from mom and aunts that use 5 lb potatoes, 8oz cream cheese and 1c sour cream that can be frozen, thawed in fridge and then baked (350 45-60min) or microwaved (10-15 min). 

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I recently froze some shepherds pies and they were fine reheated.  I also have good results with frozen FILO.

How about frozen pizzas...individual serve so they cook quickly and you can make different toppings using healthy ingredients.

Burritos/tacos

refried beans.

Chili and pita bread.

Cabbage rolls.

keema mattar with chaptis.

Coleslaw keeps well so lots of options

ravioli

calzones

meat pies

red cabbage, spatzle, sausages

dahl pockets, Dahl stuffed inside a chapati then fried with Indian pickles 

all of kayb’s wonderful idea

grilled cheese and ham sandwiches ready to grill

beef dip

crepes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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On 11/29/2017 at 5:11 PM, Cronker said:

Could you please give me some advice on freezing mashed potatoes?  Does it work or would microwaving them make them watery or separate from the butter and cream?

 

I have never had luck with freezing potatoes. I know that some frozen potato applications, like potatoes o-Brien or some hashbrowns are simply raw potatoes with oils and other stuff sprayed on them. I have had someone serve me frozen vegetable medley (from a bag sold at a supermarket) which contained tiny potato cubes and they were horrible. I avoid freezing potatoes in general.


Edited by Lisa Shock forgot an s (log)

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I believe the question is about freezing mashed potatoes and my understanding is that provided there is sufficient dairy (fat) they can be quite tolerable. 

Here

 I absolutely agree that raw potatoes don’t do well and neither do potatoes in soup in my experience. 

 

 

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DH makes a wonderful potato soup and we freeze it.  Of course, after thawing, we do add a fresh cooked diced potato.  Still, the soup has a litre of half&half in it and I think that makes it freeze quite well.  

Frozen mashed?  Nope.  Dreadful.

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To my earlier list, I'll add what I'm cooking tonight, because it's chilly out and for whatever reason, I woke up this morning thinking about it:

 

Sauerkraut, kielbasa and home fries.

 

(Is it time to start dinner, yet???)

 

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On 29/11/2017 at 6:32 AM, Darienne said:

This is always a subject near and dear to my heart.  I always try to make at least twice what the two of us will eat at one meal.  And there's pretty much nothing that I can't freeze...as says kayb.   

Lasagna, Moussaka, Spanakopita, Bobotie, Meatballs, all kinds of soups, Mafe, Piccadillo, Enchiladas (no, not traditional...a Tex-Mex casserole), Tortiere, many Chinese dishes...I could probably keep on going but that should suffice for now and others will have lots of ideas.  Oh, and Tomato Sauce...a kind of generic which can be combined with spices and so on for Mexican, Greek, Italian.   DH makes that one.    

Thanks heaps!

I'm doing bobotie tonight for a test run (our dinner) because I'm intrigued by it.  A dish that piques my interest usually turns out to be a winner for me.

I remember a boyfriend made me a Greek family traditional dish called spanakorizo.  It was basically a risotto with minimal seasoning, tonnes of lemon and chicken.  It was delicious.  Might give that a try, but concerned that a risotto would reheat "mushy", like baby food?

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