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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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On 11/28/2017 at 7:56 PM, kayb said:

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. 

 

Your suggested dishes seems different and delicious. I will try this

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Many of my favorite frozen homemade dishes used to be inspired by Stouffer's. I figured if they could make it work, I could do it better because I wasn't so focused on saving 1/26 cent per unit. I was right. Stouffer's used to be really good, but the name was sold to a big corporate entity, which I am too disgusted to look up. 

 

Here is my rendition of the Ham and Cheese Crepes they used to sell frozen. They're no longer available.

 

Ham and Cheese Crepes (makes 12)

 

Marcella Hazan's recipe for Crespelles w/1/4 t baking soda added. (There will be a cook's treat here, because you only need twelve)

 

16 oz. pkg. Land'O'Frost hickory smoked ham

8 oz. Swiss cheese, grated

2 c medium white sauce

2 T white wine added to the white sauce

 

Lay out each crepe/crespelle and lay down three slices of ham down the center of the crepes. There are always exactly thirty-six slices of smoked ham in the Land'O'Frost 1 pound pack, in my experience. Then divide the grated Swiss over the top of the ham slices. Ladle out the white sauce over the cheese and ham and roll up the crepes.

 

Lay out plastic wrap and roll your assembled crepes up individually and place in Zip Lock then freeze.

 

To cook and serve that day, heat oven to 350 F and cook for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 200 F and cook another 10 minutes.

 

The Stouffers company sold these things to be microwaved, and back in my working slave days, I did that at work. My standards had to be lower then. I recommend baking them for the crispy edges and a little browning on the cheese. Of course, you will want to extend the bake time for frozen ones. Unfortunately, I failed to make notes on how I did that, but these things freeze and retherm like a dream. I guess with the corporate view for investor profit, the food cost was too much. These are cheap to make though; the company that took over the Stouffer's name just wants only stuff that's dirt cheap, as far as I can tell anymore. I used to get their lasagna because it was as good as mine. Nope, not anymore. Their mac and cheese, which is another great dish that freezes well, was something I'd buy as well. No longer. Even that has gone the corporate way. It is just a name being exploited by Wall Street now.

 

@JoNorvelleWalker,

 

You have said the Stouffer's Spinach Souffle is not available to you. I buy it regularly, although it ain't what it used to be. I don't think they bother to whip the egg whites. It's more like a spinach custard. If you want the ingredient list, let me know.

 

 

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6 hours ago, Thanks for the Crepes said:

 

@JoNorvelleWalker,

 

You have said the Stouffer's Spinach Souffle is not available to you. I buy it regularly, although it ain't what it used to be. I don't think they bother to whip the egg whites. It's more like a spinach custard. If you want the ingredient list, let me know.

 

 

 

Actually I have one in the freezer for an emergency!  I'd still like to be able to recreate it though.

 

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I've had tremendous success in the past by making and freezing pasties.   They're quite hearty, and really are a full meal by themselves. In addition to the meat (beef or beef and pork), there are diced veggies including rutabaga, carrots, potatoes and onion. Salt, pepper and butter are the only seasonings I've ever used. They are traditionally eaten plain, with ketchup or gravy.  

 

  One of the upsides to the pasty is that they can be altered from the original beef or beef-pork combination. .  I've had chicken, broccoli, potato, onion, carrot- and they were fantastic. There's really quite a bit of room for creativity there.  You can use practically an veggie-meat combination that strikes you as being tasty when combined together. 

 

Another option might be chicken or turkey pot pies. I've done many, with great success.  Come to think of it, there were a lot of meals I used to freeze.  Years ago,  I used to do a thing called "Buddy-cooking" with one of my former neighbors. (I'm not implying that we cook our buddies, btw.) There idea is that two friends would pick 4-5 meals that could be frozen, we buy and split the cost of the ingredients, and together we'd cook a month's worth of freezable meals. So, we did pasties, pot pies, chili, meat sauce for pasta or lasagna, sloppy-joe, and I think we did meatballs in tomato sauce for meatball subs, as well.     

 

As far as that weird texture of frozen potatoes....I never had that occur with the pasties. I don't know why, but its never been an issue.  Hopefully, there are some ideas in there you can use, @Cronker !   

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Tried a new one the other night, when I made veggie fried rice and chicken meatballs. Froze helpings of rice, accompanied by meatballs, in foil pans. Reheated in CSO, from frozen, 45 minutes at 350F. Pretty doggoned good.

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11 hours ago, ChocoMom said:

Years ago,  I used to do a thing called "Buddy-cooking" with one of my former neighbors. (I'm not implying that we cook our buddies, btw.) There idea is that two friends would pick 4-5 meals that could be frozen, we buy and split the cost of the ingredients, and together we'd cook a month's worth of freezable meals. 

 

This I would love to do.  

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11 hours ago, ChocoMom said:

I've had tremendous success in the past by making and freezing pasties.   They're quite hearty, and really are a full meal by themselves. In addition to the meat (beef or beef and pork), there are diced veggies including rutabaga, carrots, potatoes and onion. Salt, pepper and butter are the only seasonings I've ever used. They are traditionally eaten plain, with ketchup or gravy.  

 

  One of the upsides to the pasty is that they can be altered from the original beef or beef-pork combination. .  I've had chicken, broccoli, potato, onion, carrot- and they were fantastic. There's really quite a bit of room for creativity there.  You can use practically an veggie-meat combination that strikes you as being tasty when combined together. 

 

Another option might be chicken or turkey pot pies. I've done many, with great success.  Come to think of it, there were a lot of meals I used to freeze.  Years ago,  I used to do a thing called "Buddy-cooking" with one of my former neighbors. (I'm not implying that we cook our buddies, btw.) There idea is that two friends would pick 4-5 meals that could be frozen, we buy and split the cost of the ingredients, and together we'd cook a month's worth of freezable meals. So, we did pasties, pot pies, chili, meat sauce for pasta or lasagna, sloppy-joe, and I think we did meatballs in tomato sauce for meatball subs, as well.     

 

As far as that weird texture of frozen potatoes....I never had that occur with the pasties. I don't know why, but its never been an issue.  Hopefully, there are some ideas in there you can use, @Cronker !   

One of my best memories of the Upper Penisula is still the pasties...I simply love them in any form!

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