You don’t have to spend your evenings in front of the stove cooking healthy homemade offerings for your family – plan ahead and freeze some meals.
Your freezer will become your best friend this year. Struggling to find the time – or energy – to prepare healthy breakfasts and lunches for your family the night before? Do all your cooking on weekends and put the week’s meals in your freezer.
Follow these tips for freezing cooked meals:
- Let the food cool down before putting it in the freezer. Hot or warm food can defrost other items next to it.
- Never re-freeze food unless it’s going to be cooked in-between. In other words, if there is mince in the freezer, don’t re-freeze it once thawed unless its first turned into bolognaise or one of your other favourite mince dishes. The cooking process will kill off any bacteria and the cooked meat can be frozen.
- Make sure food is wrapped properly. Use freezer bags and try to get as much air out of the bag as possible before placing in the freezer. Air around the food, especially if it’s moisture-rich, can form ice, which can affect the consistency of the food.
- Create a labelling system. Once food is frozen, it’s not always that easy to identify. Use a blue pen for raw food and a green one for cooked.
- Make sure frozen food is dated. Although guidelines vary, don’t keep it in the freezer for longer than three months.
10 great freezer-friendly meals
Lentil, spinach and ricotta lasagne
Lentils are a great source of fibre and protein. Whether you’re vegetarian or cutting out meat for a while, you’ll love this lentil, spinach and ricotta lasagne recipe.
Quick and easy bobotie
Spoil your family with a traditional South African bobotie for dinner.
Who doesn’t love a hearty cottage pie like the one your grandma made?
Tomato, feta, butternut and chicken pot pie
This quick and easy chicken pot pie recipe will allow you to spend less time in the kitchen and more time with your kids.
Easy mushroom and bacon crustless quiche
Whether you want to serve this as a light lunch or breakfast, simply take it out of the freezer a couple of hours before you want to serve it for a healthy, delicious meal.
Chilli and mushroom con carne
This recipe freezes well and it’s delicious. Put on a pot of rice while it defrosts and you have dinner ready in a jiffy.
These are great for lunchboxes. Simply defrost the night before and pop in the microwave in the morning.
Blueberry and coconut breakfast muffins
Think of muffins as a little work going a long way. They’re a bit of a mission to make, but you can make a load in one go and they freeze like a dream – heat a couple quickly and you’ve got a great instant breakfast.
Mushroom and chicken meatballs
This is a very clever way to sneak veggies onto your children’s plates. Disguise the courgette pasta with some extra sauce from the mushroom and chicken meatballs. You can get courgette spaghetti from Woolworths and just pop them in the microwave to steam while the meatballs defrost.
Baked beef curry with Peppadews and garlic pasta sauce
Serve with naan bread and sambals for a quick and easy dinner.
Foods that don’t freeze well
- Not all foods take kindly to being frozen, such as leafy greens or vegetables with a high water content.
Xanet is an award-winning journalist and Living and Loving’s digital editor. She has won numerous awards for her health and wellness articles and was a finalist for the Discovery Journalist of the Year in 2009 and again in 2011 for the Discovery Best Health Consumer Reporting and Feature Writing category. She is responsible for our online presence across social media channels and makes sure our moms have fresh and interesting articles to read every day. Learn more about Xanet Scheepers.