Freezable family food(23 Posts)
Following on from another thread elsewhere on the site, there seems to be demand for a thread where people post nutritious but easy family recipes that can be made up in bulk and frozen in single or family-sized portions.
I'm a complete foodie and love to cook complex and delicious meals, but I'm also a WOHM, and sometimes its great to just be able to pull a container out of the freezer in the morning to defrost, knowing that it will provide all or most of an edible, tasty, nutritious meal for the family that evening.
The demand is definitely for easy-to-cook recipes that don't require tonnes of skill - so I've gone through my extensive recipe collection to sort the wheat from the chaff and find the simplest meals that even the beginner cook can make.
I've got a bunch of staple recipes that I'm writing up to post here, so over the next few hours/days will be posting recipes for:
Macaflower Cheese (basically macaroni cheese with extra bits)
Beany-leeky lamb stew
Spaghetti bolognese with hidden vegetables
Chilli con carne
Beef and fennel curry
Spaghetti with meatballs
Chicken pasta bake with mozzarella, basil and tomatoes
Chicken pot pie
Fish pie mix (which also works if you stir it through pasta as a sauce)
Beef stew with dumplings
Barbecue pork with vegetable noodles
Chicken cordon bleu casserole
Salmon and asparagus pasta
But this is a thread where we can all post our recipes - a little help to make people's lives a bit easier, so please share your freezable, easy family favourites here. Lord knows we all need that help sometimes!
Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole
Ingredients to make 6 portions:
2lb skinless chicken breasts, diced
2 slices bread (stale if possible)
250g cheese, cut into smallish cubes
250g ham or bacon, diced
1 can of cream of chicken soup (a total cheat ingredient)
2 tsp oil (I use canola for frying, but sunflower or vegetable works – don’t use olive oil for this)
1.Grate bread into breadcrumbs (use a food processor or electric chopper if you have one, handgrate if you don’t)
2.Put the breadcrumbs in a freezer bag
3.Take 125ml of the milk and beat the egg into it
4.Dunk the chicken cubes into the egg/milk mix and put them in the freezer bag with the breadcrumbs
5.Shake the bag well until the chicken is coated with the breadcrumbs
6.Heat the oil in a frying pan, chuck in the chicken and brown over a medium heat until the breadcrumbs are golden brown
7.Stick the chicken in a baking dish and throw the ham and cheese on top
8.Mix the soup with the remaining milk and pour on top of the chicken/cheese/ham
9.Bake at 180°C for 20 mins if freezing it, 30 mins if you’re going to eat any of it straightaway
10.Divide into portions and freeze
11.Defrost well before reheating for 15 mins in a 180°C oven
We always eat this with some crusty bread and a salad (and yes, I admit to buying bagged salads for weekday meals)
Yes, the challenge in our house is making sure everyone doesn't wolf second portions down leaving nothing left to freeze!
Salmon and asparagus pasta
Ingredients to make 6 portions
500-600g uncooked pasta (I like to use shells or penne for this)
400ish grams of salmon (I use tail fillets for this)
200g of asparagus (you could replace asparagus with peas if you want)
1 bayleaf (optional)
Milk (enough to cover fish in a saucepan)
Small carton of single cream
4 tablespoons of grated cheese – I use parmesan, but cheddar works just as well
Salt and pepper to taste
1.Cook pasta until al dente (ie not soggy, with a tiny bit of bite left in it)
2.Cook the asparagus by chopping it into 1-2 inch lengths and dropping it into boiling water for 2 minutes. Once it has cooked, drain off the hot water and cover the asparagus with cold water until you’re ready to use it
3.Whilst pasta is cooking, poach the salmon by sticking it in a pan with the bayleaf, covering with milk and bringing the whole lot to the boil. Let it simmer for 2-3 minutes.
4.Remove salmon from milk (don’t thrown the milk away) and allow it to cool before flaking it into big chunks (you should just be able to peel off the skin – just throw the skin away, it gross when it’s poached)
5.Pour the cream, about 50ml of the milk you poached the salmon in, and the butter into a small saucepan and bring to the boil.
6.Turn the heat off, and throw the cheese into the milk, along with the cooked asparagus and salmon, and stir gently together – season to taste.
7.Ta da – your sauce is ready
8.Stir the sauce through the pasta and freeze into portions.
9.Defrost before use, and heat up in microwave for 2 minutes, or in a saucepan. You might need to add a tiny bit of water or milk if the sauce has sunk into the pasta too much.
This is a classic South Indian simple curry – I’ve allowed enough chilli powder for a little bit of heat, which most children seem fine with, but you can adjust the quantity of the chilli up or down according to taste.
Ingredients for 6-8 portions
1.5kg stewing or casserole beef, diced into largish chunks
2 medium sized onions
1 tbsp vegetable/sunflower oil
1 tsp chilli powder
25g fennel seeds
Salt and pepper to taste
1.Dry roast the fennel seeds – put them in a frying pan with no oil over a low heat until they start popping. Its important to keep moving the fennel seeds around so they don’t burn.
2.Allow the fennel seeds to cool, and then blitz them in a food processor or grind them in a pestle and mortar until they are not quite powdery but not whole seeds anymore (about 15 seconds in a processor)
3.Chop the onions (doesn’t need to be finely) and fry with the oil in a large saucepan or casserole pan over a low heat until soft and almost transparent
4.Add the beef, half the fennel, and all the chilli powder, and brown the beef all over.
5.Add about a mugful of water to the beef, cover the pan with a lid, and then stick the whole pan in an oven at 140°C for about 2 hours, stirring every half hour.
6.Season to taste with salt and pepper, add the rest of the fennel, and put it back in the oven for another 30 mins., uncovered.
7.Divide into portions and freeze
8.Defrost before heating in a saucepan or in the microwave.
9.We eat this with plain boiled rice (which we make fresh on the day) and some raita (chopped cucumber, onion, yoghurt, fresh chilli and a smack of salt and ground cumin to taste)
This is basically the bastard love child of macaroni cheese and cauliflower cheese. With some extra bacon and chicken, mushrooms and broccoli thrown in for good measure. A one pot meal that covers all your food groups. One of my favourite winter warmers – every child who has ever eaten this at our house has chowed the whole lot down and asked for more. I always make this in bulk – it’s a playdate pleaser.
Ingredients for 12 portions, can stretch to more if you’re not greedy guzzlers like us (and you’re going to need 3-4 big overproof dishes to put this in)
4 chicken breasts
1 tsp olive oil
80g plain flour
1 litre milk
1 tablespoon mustard (English or Dijon, not wholegrain)
300g cheese (cheddar will do)
Salt and pepper to taste
1.Cook pasta until al dente (ie not soggy, with a tiny bit of bite left in it), and drain
2.Chop the cauliflower into medium sized florets (about the size of your thumb from wrist to fingertip), put in a pan of cold water, and bring to the boil
3.Whilst water is boiling, chop the broccoli into slightly smaller florets, and add to cauliflower once the water is boiling
4.Bring the water back to the boil, and reduce to a simmer for 2 minutes, and then drain
5.Dice the chicken breast into cubes, chop bacon into small pieces, and fry in the olive oil for 2-3 minutes
6.Slice mushrooms and add to the bacon/chicken, frying for another minute
7.Divide the pasta, vegetables and chicken/bacon/mushroom mix between as many gratin dishes as needed to contain the quantities – I have 4 large ones! It’s important that the quantities are not overflowing the dishes, because you need to add the sauce
8.Now your going to make a béchamel sauce, and I promise you it’s not difficult!
9.Stick the butter in a saucepan and gently melt
10.Add the flour and mustard and mix vigorously together, almost beating it, for 2-3 minutes, keeping it on a low heat
11.Turn off the heat, and add a small dribble of the milk, mixing vigorously all the time.
12.Once the milk has been absorbed, add more, repeating until all the milk is in. You will find that you can add larger quantities towards the end. Mixing vigorously (even using a whisk at later stages) will stop it getting lumpy, but this recipe is very forgiving of the odd lump or two.
13.Add half the cheese, and put back onto a low heat for 2 minutes, stirring all the time to prevent lumps forming
14.Season to taste
15.Pour the sauce over the macaroni/vegetables etc, making sure everything gets a good dollop of sauce over it
16.Top with the remaining cheese and bake in the oven at 180°C for 15-20 minutes, or until the cheese top is golden brown
17.Portion and freeze
18.Reheat in the oven (about 15 mins) or microwave.
No problem - I adore cooking and adore sharing recipes. I'm typing very slowly at the moment because I keep getting distracted by a food programme on TV - so apologies for the long gaps between posts. At this rate it will take me a week to post the lot!
Beany-leeky lamb stew
I’m not sure where this recipe came from – its morphed from various other things I cook (like cassoulet) to give a fast, easy one-pot meal. I’ve specified lamb shanks in this recipe, but you can use whatever cut is cheapest at the butcher, providing it’s not too fatty (so neck doesn’t work, or belly). I’ve even made it with cheapish chops when the butcher has a good deal on them. I’ve also made it with pork chops – just use sage as your herb instead of thyme. Similarly, I use cannellini beans here, but I’m guessing it would work just as well with haricot, butter or flageolet. We use a load of garlic, but you could easily cut down the amount if you’re not a garlic fan.
I bloody love this meal. Another one to serve with crusty bread to mop up the juices and some salad if you want (we eat a lot of salad in our house).
Ingredients for 8 portions (again, you need a big old saucepan to make that much, so halve quantities if you don’t)
4 large lamb shanks, or 8 small ones
4 cans of cannellini beans
6 cloves garlic
Bunch of fresh thyme (or 2-3 teaspoons of dried)
1 medium sized potato
1 small dried chilli (trust me, this really makes a massive difference to the flavour, and you won’t be able to feel the heat at all)
1 vegetable stock-pot (I actually make stock and freeze it in cubes, but stock-pots work fine for this recipe)
1 tsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste (I like lots of pepper on this)
1.Peel and chop the garlic cloves (doesn’t need to be too fine) and fry lightly in the olive oil in a big saucepan until the aroma of garlic is wafting from the pan
2.Chop the leeks into one-inch chunks (I halve the leek lengthways before chopping). Use the entire leek apart from the root and the very top cm of green leek (because it’s generally dry and nasty)
3.Add the leeks to the pan, along with the chilli and gently sauté until softening up (might take a few minutes, so keep stirring so they don’t burn)
4.Peel the potato and slice it into rounds – its acting as a thickener here, so you don’t need to worry about what it looks like.
5.Add the potato and continue to sauté, stirring every minute or so
6.Add the lamb and the thyme, and brown the lamb all over
7.Add in enough water to half-fill the pan, chuck in the stock-pot and bring everything to the boil, stirring the bottom of the pan to make sure anything stuck on it is released into the mix.
8.Stick a lid on the pan and pop it in the oven at 140°C for around 2 hours, stirring every 30 mins or so.
9.The meat should be really tender and coming away from the bone when you prod it with a fork – if it needs another hour or so, just stick it back in, keeping it covered with the lid
10.Drain the beans (I always rinse them really well), add to the stew and put the pan on a high heat on the hob, bringing everything back to the almost boiling point
11.Reduce the heat to the lowest heat possible for 10 mins or so (you will need less time if the beans are smaller ones like flageolet)
12.Season to taste with salt and pepper
13.Divide into portions and freeze
14.Defrost well before reheating – I blast this for 2 mins in the microwave
15.Another one to serve with crusty bread and a salad, or boiled potatoes. I also sometimes chuck some gremolata or chopped preserved lemons and parslay on the top when I serve it – a tsp per serving
Oh, I forgot to say, portion sizes here are adult ones, so if you have younger children, then you'll get more portions in a batch.
Fish pie mix
Cooked potato doesn’t freeze very well, so I make the fish pie mix in advance, and when I want to use it, I just defrost it, chuck it into a gratin dish, and then top with freshly made mashed potato with some cheese on top. Delicious.
Ingredients to make 4 portions
400g skinless white fish fillet
400g skinless smoked haddock fillet
1 small onion
2 bay leaves
Small bunch of flat-leaf parsley
50g plain flour
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1.Chuck the fish in the frying pan and add the onion (cut into quarters), the cloves, the bay leaves and the milk
2. Bring the milk just to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 8 mins.
3.Lift the fish out of the pan onto a plate, and strain the milk into a jug to cool.
4.Roughly flake the fish into large pieces into a bowl.
5.Hard-boil the eggs (8 minutes), cool, peel and chop into chunks.
6.Scatter the egg on top of the fish
7.Roughly chop the parsley and scatter on top as well.
8.Make the sauce by melting the butter in a pan and stirring in the flour.
9.Cook for 1 min over medium heat, stirring all the time.
10.Take the mix off the heat and pour in a little of the cold poaching milk, stirring until its blended.
11.Continue to add the milk gradually, mixing well until you have a smooth sauce.
12.Return to the heat, bring back to the boil and cook for 5 mins, stirring continually, until it coats the back of a spoon.
13.Remove from the heat, season with salt, pepper and nutmeg, then pour over the fish.
14.Freeze in portions appropriate to family size.
15.Defrost well before use – just empty contents into gratin dish, top with buttery mash and some cheese.
16.I always serve fish pie with peas, marriage made in heaven!
17.If you can’t be bothered to make mash, this also works well stirred through pasta.
Thank you Queen. I've followed you over from the other thread.
Thanks from me too Queen. This is brilliant also for people like me who cooks freezable meals for my dad. These sort of recipes are surprisingly hard to come by. Magazine features on freezable food tend to feature recipes where you cook up to a certain stage, freeze, defrost and need to do extra bits that my dad couldn't cope with.
No problem - I have a mother who also isn't able to cook much anymore, so I also do the same thing.
I've got a load more recipes - just need to find some time to type them up. I reckon I've also got a fair few other recipes that could easily be adapted for freezing - so I might try them out the next time I batch cook and see if they work.
sumac - for the fish pie recipe, if he isn't able to make mash easily (which my mum struggles to do), top the mix with puff pastry (Jusrol does just fine) and freeze the pie without baking. Then when it's defrosted, just bake in the oven for about 20 mins.
Thank you! Going to try the first one you put up tomorrow
Sumac you should have a look at the BBC Good Food cookbook "Make-ahead meals"
Some things I've done from it are
Brazillian Chicken with Tomato
Chicken with Tomato & Olive
Moroccan Style Chicken Stew
Prawn & Tomato Curry
Spicy Turkey Pepper Bake
One more - sorry I'm so slow at typing these up.
Chicken Pasta Bake with Spinach, Basil, Tomatoes and Mozzarella
Another family favourite – comfort food and perfect for playdates.
Ingredients for 6-8 portions
800g fresh tomatoes
2 cans plum tomatoes
2 tsp olive oil
2 packs fresh mozzarella (the stuff that comes in large balls)
1 large handful fresh basil (about 25-30g)
200g fresh baby leaf spinach
40g fresh grated parmesan
2 tsp dried oregano
Salt and pepper to taste
2 cloves garlic
1 medium carrot
1 stick celery
1 medium onion
4 breasts chicken
1.Finely dice the onion, carrot, garlic and celery, and fry on a low heat with 1tsp of the olive oil until soft
2.Chop the fresh tomatoes roughly and add to the pan
3.Add the plum tomatoes, 1 tsp oregano and a pinch of salt and pepper
4.Stir well over a high heat until almost bubbling
5.Reduce to a simmer and cook for 1 hour, stirring occasionally, until it is thick and flavourful
6.Whilst the tomato sauce is cooking, cook pasta until al dente (ie not soggy, with a tiny bit of bite left in it), and drain
7.Dice the chicken into chunks (as big or small as you like) and fry in the remaining olive oil and oregano, plus a little salt and pepper, until the chicken is almost cooked through
8.Drain the liquid from the mozzarella and chop into chunks (I usually have about 8 pieces from one ball
9.Wash and drain the spinach (no need to pick the stalks away if its baby leaf)
10.Roughly chop the basil so its in largish bits (or just rip it with your hands)
11.Layer the pasta into an ovenproof dish and mix in the chicken, spinach, basil and mozzarella through it
12.Top with the tomato sauce, and then the parmesan
19.Bake in an oven at 180°C for 15-20 minutes, or until the cheese top is golden brown
13.Cool and portion
14.Defrost well before heating – this is a microwave job, and serve with a salad on the side
Thanks, I needed some fresh inspiration for meals and am adding these ingredients to my shopping list!
Thanks for sharing these ideas - really useful.
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