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Recipe ideas for a well-stocked freezer

Recipe ideas for a well-stocked freezer

Who hasn’t been tempted to order in food after a long day at work? Whether you’re feeling pressed for time or simply don’t have the energy, it’s sometimes difficult to cook a homemade meal. Yet, take-out food not only affects your pocketbook, but is often contains loads of sugar and salt, making it an unwise health choice. That’s why it’s always good to have readily available meal options stocked in your freezer.

 

 

Freezer friendly recipes

 

Soups

 

In addition to being nutritious and flavourful, most soups are easily frozen and are also an excellent way of using in-season vegetables and fruits. For extra nutrients, eat with a slice of fresh bread and your favourite cheese or spread.

 

Try making this butternut sqash and ginger soup.

 

Burritos

 

Freezing pre-cooked individual burritos is an easy way to have snacks or meals ready to go. Just make sure you don’t add raw vegetables that don’t freeze well, like lettuce, as their post-freezer texture is less than appetizing. Wrap burritos individually or place them in a freezer container, making sure they’re not sticking to each other. You can reheat them in the microwave, making sure to turn them occasionally, or heat them in the toaster oven for a crispier tortilla.

 

Try this breakfast burrito recipe.

 

Dumplings

 

Dumplings are very versatile. Ready to be used in soups, as appetizers or as sides to salads, they actually keep better frozen than in the fridge. While assembling dumplings make take a bit of time, you’ll find that once you get the hang of it, it’s well worth the effort. When you serve them, make sure that they are thoroughly cooked, especially if you’ve stuffed them with meat.

 

Try this porc and shiitake mushroom dumplings recipe.

 

Individual savoury pies and omelettes 

 

Preparing individual savoury pies – like meat or millet tourtieres, chicken or salmon pies, etc., – or even omelettes, will provide you with easy and handy meal choices. Make sure they’re well-cooked before freezing them.

 

Try making mini portions of this vegan millet pie.

 

Curries

 

The secret to delicious curry is making sure you begin with a flavourful base, richly scented with a mix of fresh spices, garlic and onion. Next, prepare your sauce with a creamy liquid, like coconut milk or even pureed vegetables, then add your preferred proteins and vegetables. You can also prepare individual servings of rice to cook and freeze, making a complete meal ready at hand.

 

Try this chana massala (spicy chick pea curry) recipe. 

 

 

Chilis

 

What’s more comforting than a hot bowl of chili? When it comes time to serve it, simply top it up with some of your favourite flavourings, whether fresh coriander, bits of avocado or fresh lime. And if your chili is too liquidy when you defrost it, simmer it on the stove for a while to let the excess water steam away. Don’t forget to add a little for spice to liven it up after it’s been defrosted.

 

Try this chili recipe made with black beans and beer.

 

Stews and sauces

 

In addition to curries and chilis, there are a lot of sauce-based foods that are ideal for freezing. Here are some:

     
  • Sauces for vol-au-vent (for a vegan option, skip the chicken and replace the milk and butter with soy milk and vegan butter)
  • Many sorts of stews made from freezer-friendly ingredients (avoid potatoes)
  • Bolognese pasta sauce (for a vegan option, replace  ground meat with ground tofu or cooked lentils)
  • Bœuf bourguignon (for a vegan option, replace the beef with cubed tempeh)

 

Try this beef and barley stew recipe.

 

Burger patties

 

Having a few patties frozen and ready to go in the freezer lets you have delicious meals in just a few minutes. Freeze them fully before putting them in a container. They’ll be easier to separate. For vegetarian or vegan burgers, we recommend you pre-cook them to help ensure they retain their shape when defrosted. And, since sliced breads freeze well, stock up on hamburger buns in your freezer that you can defrost individually in the oven or the toaster as you prepare your meal.

 

Try these turkey burger patties.

 

Healthy snacks

 

Healthy pastries, desserts and snacks are easily frozen and retain their flavour, form and texture after defrosting. Freezing batches of them means that you can vary your snacks easily and avoid boring repetition.

  • Energy balls
  • Sweet or savoury muffins
  • Healthy cookies
  • Slices of banana bread (you also use pumpkin, zuccini, lemon or carrot) 

To defrost them, just pop them in the fridge before you go to bed. 

 

Try this nut-free chocolaty hemp protein balls recipe.

 

Cut fruits and vegetables

 

Did you know that the new Canadian food guide recommends that half of your plate consist of fruits and vegetables? For breakfasts, cut up fruits you like to use in smoothies, like mango, berries, peaches or pineapple. For meals, cut and parboil vegetables that you’ll use on the grill or in the oven, as a side dish or sauté in a pan to add to stir-fry. Freezing all of these foods is also a great way to cut down on food waste.

 

 

Tips on freezing and defrosting meals

 

 

There are many benefits to preparing meals ahead of time and freezing them. However, you need to take certain precautions to ensure the quality, health and flavour of your foods through the freezing and defrosting cycle.

 

  • Proper containers

    The way you store food in a freezer has a direct impact on how long it will keep fresh. Choose containers with rigid sides or ones that have been made specifically for freezing. They will help prevent freezer burn that changes the flavour and quality of food, and also protect your food from picking up other odours. There are few things less appetizing than food with nasty “freezer taste”.

  • Use sensible portions

    The way you store food in a freezer has a direct impact on how long it will keep fresh. Choose containers with rigid sides or ones that have been made specifically for freezing. They will help prevent freezer burn that changes the flavour and quality of food, and also protect your food from picking up other odours. There are few things less appetizing than food with nasty “freezer taste”.

  • Don't let food stick together

    Before putting foods in a container that shouldn’t stick to each other, like cut up fruits and vegetables, snacks, dumplings or burgers, freeze them first on a tray before putting them in their container.

  • Jot down the freezing date

    Frozen foods have limited shelf lives. With a permanent marker and freezer tape – or setting a reminder on your phone – indicate the date you prepared and froze the food so you use it before it’s best recommended date. Check the Canadian government’s Safe Food Storage guide for advice.

  • Defrost properly

    Never defrost food at room temperature (on the counter, for example). Doing so can lead to bacteria forming that can make you sick. It’s best to defrost food in the fridge, but you can also use a microwave, warm things in the oven or a pot, or defrost them in a bowl of cool water.

  • Adjust the seasoning

    Once defrosted, certain foods can lose their flavour. For particularly spicy and flavourful meals, like chili or curry, adjust for taste by adding almost half as much seasoning as the original recipe called for. For tomato sauces, adding tomato paste will enhance the flavour, texture and colour.

  • Take a picture of your freezer

    Need a handy reminder of what you actually have in your freezer? Keep a weekly photo update of your freezer’s contents on your phone. You’ll always know what’s there for your next meal.