With a baby due this month (!), we’ve been working on stocking our freezer with delicious, healthy meals for those hazy newborn days when cooking just isn’t a priority… or sometimes even a possibility. Since Nora made her appearance a little early, we didn’t do as much freezer stocking last time around, but we made it through just fine with a mixture of family and friends cooking and bringing meals for us, prepared foods, and takeout. This time around, we are pretty well prepared, I think. We’ll see soon!
For a couple of months, I’ve been making larger batches of some freezer-friendly meals and putting the extra in the freezer. I’ve actually done very little cooking exclusively for the freezer, but we’ve been building up our stock bit by bit.*
* Yes, there are some prepared meals in there, too. Michael Angelo’s is good stuff, yo. And don’t knock Amy’s either.
There are tons of resources out there for stocking the freezer for omnivores, but, I found, relatively few for vegetarians. A lot of freezer meals tend to be crockpot-ready meals, and those tend to be pretty meat-centric. However, that doesn’t mean that vegetarian meals can’t be freezer-friendly, too! So, I thought I’d share some of the recipes we’ve used to stock the freezer, as well as a few tips I’ve learned along the way.
In general, soups freeze really well, as do non-cream-based pasta sauces (just make fresh pasta to go with it), lasagna and enchiladas (freeze the sauce separately, or use good-quality packaged sauce). Beans are also good freezer candidates, and you can either freeze them cooked plain (so you can throw them into other dishes) or prepared, as in a soup or chili. Don’t forget bread (it’s nice to have a homemade loaf to go with that soup) and a few treats you can bake at a moment’s notice, like chocolate chip cookies. Yep, I think we will eat just fine for those few weeks after the baby arrives.
C’mon Baby Girl! We’re ready to meet you!
Tips for Freezing:
- Use disposable baking dishes. Normally I’m not a fan, but not having dishes to clean up when you are dealing with a newborn (or recovering from surgery, or what have you) is priceless. Foil baking pans with lids are the bomb for things like enchiladas, pasta or lasagna.
- Use freezer bags, and lay them flat to freeze. This saves a lot of space, and they’ll thaw a lot faster when you’re ready to use them, too.
- Be sure to print meal names, dates and reheating instructions on every container. Make it idiot-proof so you don’t have to think too much about it. Some of us are pretty dumb when sleep-deprived.
- Make sure to leave plenty of time to thaw your meal before you’re ready to eat it! This seems like a no-brainer, but some things take longer than just a day in the fridge to completely unfreeze, and you don’t want your dinner plans upset when you realize your mac and cheese is still a mac-and-cheese-sicle after an hour in the oven. Not that that has ever happened to me. *ahem*
- Start early. If you freeze a few meals here and there, it won’t seem like such a huge undertaking, and before you know it — voila, you have a freezer stash!
What’s in Our Freezer:
Roasted Fennel Tomato Sauce (just add pasta and parmesan)
Crock Pot Potato Soup
Sweet Potato and Chard Enchiladas
Various beans – including crock pot pinto beans, borlotti beans and cooked chickpeas
Veggie lasagna (I made a big pan and froze half of it, wrapped in freezer Press ‘n’ Seal)
Garlic-artichoke pasta sauce (frozen without the cream)
White Bean Soup with Mushrooms, Spinach and Quinoa
Split Pea Soup
Cloverleaf French Bread
Chicago-Style Deep Dish Pizza
Other Freezer-Friendly Meals:
Mexican White Bean Soup
Creamy Roasted Tomato and Orzo Soup (freeze prior to adding the cream)
Baked Rigatoni with Eggplant
Kale and White Bean Soup
Spiced Red Lentil Soup with Kale
Black Bean Soup
Tunisian Vegetable Stew
Black Bean Chili
Black-Eyed Peas and Greens with Leeks
Butternut Squash and Chickpea Tagine
Chard and Sweet Potato Stew
Spinach and Mushroom Enchiladas
Macaroni and Cheese
Chard and Mushroom Lasagna
Hearty Vegetable Lasagna