Weekly Meal Plan #8: Freezer Fillers
Next week I have a project for you: filling your freezer with a whole load of delicious, healthy, homemade meals you can enjoy on the weeks you don’t have time to meal plan. Either if you’re cooking for just you and like to freeze leftovers, or are like me and worry about the person you leave behind when you go out for dinner getting a nutritious meal, there is nothing better than having homemade meals ready that are not chasing a refrigerator use by date for when cooking is just not an option. Here are five of my favourites.
Monday: Freeze-ahead Red Lentil Ragu
This is my original freezer meal, it is a classic big batch, so easy to make, and naturally vegan without even trying to be (but also excellent covered in grated parmesan!) But, the very best thing about this Freeze-ahead Red Lentil Ragu is that while it is lazy, you can actually defrost a frozen portion with a splash of water in a saucepan in the time it takes your pasta to cook! Freeze a load of this, and you’ll always have a hug in a bowl!
While on Monday we were making one meal, if you freeze any leftovers from my Slow Cooked Tomato & Gin Brisket (or from any type of slow cooked meat) you can make all sorts of different meals, from straight up, heated up leftovers, to new meals that would usually take longer from scratch, from tacos to quick curries. I find that the protein is what I’m usually missing when using up leftovers, so here is the solution!
Wednesday: A Simple & Delicious Bolognese Sauce
I think the classic thing to freeze-ahead is a classic bolognese sauce. This is the recipe my Mum makes, and is a real firm family favourite. This recipe will yield six portions which are great for individually freezing. Those of you who own a copy of my book will know that I don’t just like to serve leftover bolognese sauce over pasta; I also like to bake them again topped off with mashed potato (regular or sweet) to create a sort of Shepherds Pie. It also makes a great all-purpose meat filling for pies, pasties and anything else you can think of.
Thursday: A Warming Carrot Soup
While chunky soups can go a little mushy, blended soups are begging to be frozen. Some of them may look like they have separated while they’re being defrosted, but as soon as the soup is warmed through and being swirled around in the pan it is just as good as if you’d just made it fresh, especially if you finish off each bowl with a bright garnish; think anything herby, crunchy or creamy you have leftover in the fridge (or a handful of my Bacon Maple Granola Soup Topper!) If you find lots of plastic soup tubs are taking up space in your freezer, invest in some zip lock soup bags (I will be forever wedded to Lakeland for this type of thing) and freeze your soup flat so you can stack the bags on top of each other. That way you’re not storing air pockets!
Friday: Stupidly Simple Lasagna
While most freeze-ahead meals I make are just a matter of freezing leftovers, freezing lasagna portions is a little more work, but a hell of a lot more rewarding. Double up next time you’re making a lasagna (or make it in a smaller dish than usual) and invest in some metal takeaway containers with lids. When it comes time to layer up your lasagna, layer single portions in each container, and then freeze. When it comes to cook them, just remove the lid and then pop them in the oven!
A few ideas for the weekend: keeping with the freeze-ahead theme, so you have sweet treats to snack on throughout the coming week, why not try your hand at my (Raw, Vegan & Gluten Free) Chocolate Ganache Bars. You should also make some Simple Potato Salad or Homemade Labneh Cheese for the fridge, or treat yourself to Mummy’s Victoria Sponge Sandwich Cake, or my Dad’s recipe for Hot King Prawns in Garlic Butter.