12 Freezer Meal Recipes – Day 2

After the fairly easy day of preparing freezer meals on Day 1 I was feeling pretty cocky when I got up on Day 2. My husband and my son had both agreed to help out for this day of cooking so I was sure I’d feel fine at the end of the day. “I’ll take ‘Famous Last Words’ for $1000, Alec.”

The sun had barely peeked over the horizon when I started my “cheater lasagna.” This is the lasagna I make when I don’t feel up to making my own sauce. Yes, Kids, I use Ragu. Walk a mile in my bones.

completed-meals-day-2

Ah, lasagna! It’s filling, delicious, and actually pretty good for you. All that calcium and protein from the cheeses, the tomatoes full of antioxidants, and the noodles for the necessary carbs can’t be bad, right? Combined with some toasty garlic bread and a big salad it is a terrific meal! If you’re up to it you can use your own recipe for lasagna.

Lasagna (5 meals for 2 people – generous portions)

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs. ground beef
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 15 ounces ricotta cheese
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 large jar of Ragu Garden Style spaghetti sauce
  • 6 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 1 box lasagna noodles
  • Cooking spray

Freezer preparation:

  1. Salt a large pot of water and bring to a boil.
  2. Cook lasagna noodles until al dente.
  3. Drain noodles and rinse well with cold water (to stop them cooking & make them easy to handle.
  4. Set aside
  5. In a large skillet brown ground beef until no longer pink. Season the meat with salt and pepper while it’s browning.
  6. Drain and return to skillet.
  7. Add garlic and cook, stirring constantly, for about one minute.
  8. Mix beef with about half the jar of Ragu.
  9. Mix the ricotta cheese with 2 cups of mozzarella, and the egg until well combined.
  10. Spray a 9×13 inch casserole dish with cooking spray.
  11. Lay one layer of noodles in dish.
  12. Top with the ricotta mixture.
  13. Lay a second layer of noodles over ricotta.
  14. Top with meat and sauce mixture.
  15. Lay a third layer of noodles over meat mixture.
  16. Top with the remaining sauce and spread the remaining 3 cups of mozzarella over all.
  17. Bake at 350 for about 40 – 45 minutes; until cheese is melted and golden brown. If cheese is browning too quickly cover the dish with aluminum foil.
  18. Allow lasagna to cool completely.  (I keep the dish in the refrigerator overnight to make the following steps easier)
  19. Cut into individual portions.
  20. Place as many individual portions as you will need in freezer bags. (I use my vacuum sealer for lasagna)

Cooking directions:

  • Allow lasagna to thaw for up to 48 hours.
  • Preheat oven to 350F.
  • Place portions in oven-proof dish and cover with aluminum foil.
  • Bake for 35 – 45 minutes or until hot in the center.
  • You can also reheat the lasagna in the microwave; first on defrost setting (the length of time is determined by how large the portion is) then on about 70% until hot.

My husband and my son helped out for the rest of the day’s chores. My husband ran to the grocery store then did the clean-as-you-go stuff. My son, who worked in restaurant kitchens for nearly 15 years, helped me with the cooking.

 

When I was a kid we always went to the Greek Festival in Greektown (Detroit). One of the hardest things for me was choosing from all the great food that restaurants and street vendors were offering. Ever since those days I’ve loved Keftédes! I usually serve these with some yellow orzo with tomato sauce. They are often served as a kind of appetizer with tzatziki (a cucumber/yogurt sauce).

Keftédes (Greek meatballs) (3 meals {6 meatballs each} for 2 people)

Makes about 3 dozen golf ball size meatballs

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 lb. ground beef
  • 1/2 lb. ground lamb   (I sometimes use pork instead of lamb because it’s cheaper or you can use all beef)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil + more for frying
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 large onions, diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoons Greek oregano
  • 1 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoons mint, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 3 – 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup breadcrumbs
  • Flour for dusting meatballs

Freezer preparation:

  1. Place both lamb and beef into a large bowl.
  2. Add diced onion and minced garlic to the meat.
  3. Add breadcrumbs.
  4. Add basil, parsley, oregano, and mint to the meat
  5. Add salt and pepper
  6. Add olive oil, water, and egg
  7. Knead the mixture for about 5 minutes. Seriously.  In Greece the meatballs are kneaded for 5 – 10 minutes! The meatballs are better if you mix the meat and other ingredients the night before and allow the flavors to blend.
  8. Roll the meatballs about golf ball size
  9. Dust a clean surface with flour and roll the meatballs around in it.
  10. Knock off the excess flour.
  11. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
  12. Brown the meatballs, rolling to cook evenly until internal temperature reaches 155F.
  13. Cool the meatballs and divide evenly into labeled freezer bags.

keftedes-dusted

Your meatballs should look like this after dusting with flour and removing the excess.

Cooking directions:

  • Thaw the meatballs overnight.
  • Preheat oven to 350F.
  • Place meatballs in a covered oven-safe dish and heat for about 20 – 30 minutes.

 

*Singing* On top of spaghettiiiiiii. Sorry. I got carried away. But these meatballs are great on top of spaghetti or for meatball subs. They’re even great just with a good marinara dipping sauce as a snack!

Italian meatballs (3 meals {6 meatballs each} for 2 people)

Makes about 3 dozen golf ball size meatballs

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley (dried is fine, too)
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

 

Freezer preparation:

  1. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Keep it authentic and use your hands!
  2. Roll meat into golf ball size meatballs.
  3. Flash freeze meatballs and divide into quart size freezer bags.
  4. OR: heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet and brown the meatballs all the way around then divide.
  5. The meatballs can also be cooked then added to freezer bags with your favorite tomato sauce.

 

Cooking directions:

  • Place meatballs in refrigerator until completely thawed.
  • Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet and brown meatballs until cooked through.
  • If you have precooked your meatballs simply thaw and use.

 

It was around this time I had to really edit my speech. My two usual phrases are “Frizzem frazzem rizzem razzem” which is a grandchild friendly form of cursing. But by this point I was spitting out “REALLY bad words!” I mean that literally. I don’t use really bad words, I just say the phrase.

 

I love Swedish meatballs. If you haven’t tried them you really, really should. For the recipe for the gravy see my post https://thecomfortablecoop.wordpress.com/2016/08/12/swedish-meatballs/

Swedish meatballs (3 meals {6 meatballs each} for 2 people)

Makes about 3 dozen golf ball size meatballs

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced small
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1/2 (generous) cup Panko breadcrumbs
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • Pinch ground allspice
  • Pinch ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black

Freezer preparation:

  1. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.
  2. Add onions and cook until translucent (about 3 minutes).
  3. In a large bowl combine the onions with the remaining ingredients and mix well.
  4. Form meatballs about golf ball size.
  5. Flash freeze.
  6. OR: heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a skillet and brown meatballs until cooked through.
  7. Flash freeze cooked meatballs.
  8. Divide into quart size freezer bags.

Cooking directions:

  • Place meatballs in refrigerator until completely thawed.
  • Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet and brown meatballs until cooked through.
  • If you have precooked your meatballs simply thaw and use.

 

The next recipe was my “break. It only required grating a large carrot and mixing everything but the beef and cornstarch in a bowl. I actually kind of enjoyed shaking the beef in a paper bag with the cornstarch. It reminded me of “The Help” when one of the ladies was teaching the other how to make fried chicken.

Every once in a while I like to really shake up our dinner routine. This recipe is different than my usual choices but it’s good for my husband to go outside his comfort zone from time to time.

Mongolian Beef & Broccoli (2meals for 2 people)

(Adapted from Once a Month Meals)

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 lbs. flank stead, sliced against the grain *
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup carrots, peeled and grated
  • 1/2 cup green onions, sliced
  • Broccoli, steamed (I use one cup of steamed broccoli for each meal for two)**

Freezer preparation:

  1. Coat the steak slices in cornstarch.
  2. Shake off excess cornstarch.
  3. Combine the remaining ingredients and evenly distribute into freezer bags.
  4. Divide steak evenly into the freezer bags with the other ingredients.

Cooking directions:

  • Place contents of freezer bag into slow cooker and cook on low 4 – 5 hours.
  • Steam one cup of broccoli for each two servings.
  • Serve over rice.

 

*I sometimes use cheaper cuts like round steak for this recipe. I cook it on low for about 6 hours so the tougher cut becomes tender.

**Cooking the broccoli with the steak usually makes the broccoli florets disintegrate. It’s best to steam the broccoli right before you’re ready to serve. You can even use the plain frozen broccoli in the steamer bags to make things easier.

That was the end of Day 2. My son went home but came back a couple of hours later. I’d left my “serious” pain medications at his house the other day and he drove back just so I wouldn’t have to try to make it through the night without them. Did I mention I’m crazy about this kid?

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