I tackled a “big item” on my grand to-do list on Sunday. In some ways it felt good. In others I’m disgusted with myself.
I threw out a ginormous bag of food. I hadn’t cleaned out my freezer in an awfully long time. There was stuff in there that I’ve had since I lived with Joanne I’m sure, that’s just gotten moved and shoved into the back. Anything that looked freezerburned, questionable, or just plain unidentifiable got tossed. Then on to the fridge. I’ve been bad lately – leftovers got left, veggies and fruits started moulding and mushing. Some condiments I’ve had longer than the stuff that was in the freezer. Toss. Some made it to the compost.
Finally, a relatively empty fridge and freezer.
What to do?
But this time with stuff I’ll use. Stuff that has a use-by date written right on them. I’ve stocked my freezer with an assortment of yummy supper foods, all ready to go. I think I spent just over a hundred dollars, but if I can actually make us eat everything it’ll save money and time in the long run.
Because I freeze things flat in freezer bags (plastic, I know), I have a library of supers, standing on end just like books. It’ll be colourful when I’m done, too – greens, oranges, browns, reds! When I’m done I’ll have several week’s worth of suppers all done. I thought I’d share with you what I’ve made already – feel free to add your suggestion in comments too. A warning – I don’t do measurements. Odd for a scientist, I know. But that’s the beauty of these recipes – it’s all by eye! So here’s the first installment. Tonight I’ll make a meatloaf and prep a stew for the crock pot. Tomorrow night tomato sauce for pasta, and a big pot of brown rice.
(editing to add a picture. There’s a good selection in there, but it’s still missing rice! There are the two soups though the broccoli one is nearly gone, meatloaf, stew, lemon halibut, ready-to-roast chicken, and spaghetti sauce, among other yummy stuff)
Cheesy Broccoli Soup
An old standby for me. Super-simple, and because you can ‘hide’ good-for-you stuff like potato skins and carrots in it, amazingly healthy. I’ve tried hiding chicken in it, but I’ve found it’s way better to dip breaded and baked chicken strips into it. There are a couple brands out there that aren’t too pricey, and use whole grains too.
Chop one medium onion into big chunks, and a couple cloves of garlic too. Toss into a pot with enough olive oil to coat the bottom and a grind or two of fresh pepper (to taste). Saute until the onion is transparent. Thinly slice a medium to large sized potato (or two), leaving the skin on. Nobody will notice, I promise. Add slices to pot, and cover with water. Toss in a couple bouillon cubes – chicken, veggie, or beef it’s your choice, but I like chicken best. If you’re feeling fancy you can use chicken stock. I also add a bit of Worchestershire sauce and a dash of Tabasco. Add leftover veggies if you have them, or you can slice in a small sweet potato or yam for extra nutrition. Then add the broccoli. I used three smallish heads, plus the stems. Cover and let simmer until the broccoli is steamed tender. Allow to cool. Puree in batches, adding a glug of milk and a chunk of cheese to each batch. Mix batches, and you’re ready to freeze.
Golden Harvest Soup
This is my approximation of a soup my mom used to make, though I think hers had beer and cheese in it? I’m not sure. At any rate, it’s a yummy orange-coloured soup with a lot of sweetness. Reeeallly yummy, if you have the time on re-heating, to cook doughboys on it (essentially tea biscuits, where you plop the dough right on top of the simmering soup).
Start off the same way as the broccoli soup, with onion, garlic, olive oil, and pepper, then add potato(es) and cover with stock of your favourite variety, but add a little extra water this time. If you like, add some Worchestershire sauce and/or hot sauce, but I don’t care for hot sauce in this one. Toss in roughly chopped carrots, sweet potato, and your favourite squash. Okay, spaghetti squash might not work so well. I used acorn, but I’ve used butternut in the past and loved it. Cover and simmer until everything is tender. Cool, then run it through the blender. Freeze.
Chicken and Tomato Ready-To-Roast
Into each freezer bag put enough chicken (your fave parts) for your family, chopped Roma tomatoes, thin slices of potato, chunks of onion, and some garlic. Drizzle a bit of lemon juice in, and some olive oil. It’s also yummy to add chunks of lemon, if you’re a fruit-with-chicken fan. Sprinkle in some herbes du provence, or whatever spice or herbes you prefer. Shake it up, squeeze out the air, seal and freeze. Ta-dah, quick and brainless supper that’ll still leave your house smelling like you slaved all day. Just put it in a baking dish and roast it until the chicken is cooked through.
Ready-to-Bake Lemon Halibut
I’ll be honest, this one I made some time ago. This is a two-bag-per-meal dish.
Put halibut (or whatever fish) into freezer bags with some olive oil and lemon juice. Grind in some pepper, maybe toss in some peppercorns too. If you’re feeling fancy and want a flavour kick, add some zest. Squish out the air, and it’s ready to freeze. In another bag, pop a couple cherry tomatoes per serving, baby carrots, half-moon-chopped leeks, some onion, some red pepper. Squish out air, and freeze.
Bake in covered dish or foil-wrapped. The catch here is to stop before the fish is cooked and then let it sit and finish just from the heat in the dish.