Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Paleo Freezer Meals


I don't do them.  Wait, let me explain.

My sister in law sent us a big ol' batch of paleo chili in that ice cream container there in the back... yum.  It's going to be perfect for a busy weekend.  It got me thinking.

So, a lot of people like freezer cooking.  What is freezer cooking?  Well, it is defined in practice as prepping the ingredients for a recipe ahead of time, assembling and freezing them in a container of some sort (often a zip top bag - or an aluminum pan if you are the casserole type), and then simply heating and eating on the day you choose to use them.  Whether those ingredients have to actually be cooked upon removal from the freezer (because they are frozen raw) or if they are cooked before freezing depends on the recipe used.

From my perspective, it seems that most "paleo" freezer cooking recipes I've seen out there are simply marinades with the raw meat added in.  I love a good marinade.  I love dumping things into the crockpot or on the hot grill upon removal from the freezer (some great examples to get you going).  But, to me, those dump in the crockpot or on the grill meals aren't the kind of meals that take much prep anyways.

What I appreciate even more, is a completely cooked meal, ready to go.  A meal that is ready to be grabbed and thrown in the canvas grocery sack that my husband carries his food in to work each day.  A meal you can store in the freezer for weeks and then take to work to eat for lunch when there is nothing else the fridge.  Basically a meal on standby for when all else fails.

I must admit, I am not an expert on this subject.  However, I thought I would try to brainstorm a bit for what makes a good, already cooked, paleo freezer meal.  One common sense tip that comes to mind is to use meals that include meat that is in a sauce.  Why?  Because it keeps the meat moist when reheating.

Hearty soups and stews are a good example of this-


Uh, I kinda got stuck there (help me out in the comments if you can)...

So, moving on...

"Just the meat" ideas-


While spaghetti sauce is an easy one to freeze, too, my no-brainer method isn't worth doing ahead of time.  But if you have leftovers, go for it.

One more recipe came to mind-

  • crispy carnitas  (not in a sauce, but the idea is to crisp the meat up upon reheating anyways)

Or, take freezer meals to the most basic level, and just brown some ground beef or cook some shredded chicken in the crockpot and then freeze and it will be ready to throw in a recipe wherever called for (as long as you thaw it a bit).  I've never frozen whole, cooked pieces of chicken.  Maybe I am missing out.  Do they thaw well or do they get rubbery?

One thing that I like to do is to freeze leftover ingredients such as homemade chicken stock, beef broth (because I never use a whole container from Trader Joe's at once), coconut milk, overripe fruit (for smoothies, muffins, or fruit crisp), shredded cabbage, spinach, whole tomatoes, herbs, chopped celery, onion, or bell peppers. I've already shared about some of those things.  If you are wondering if something freezes well, just google it.  You might be surprised and it could stretch your grocery money a little further.  I rarely intentionally make paleo freezer meals. That usually only happens when we accidentally have leftovers.  But I frequently freeze individual ingredients for later use.

What else can we add to these lists?  Please share and let us know any paleo meals or ingredients you have found freeze well... I bet we all can appreciate some cost savings, convenience, and variety!

(Update: You can find my latest on make-ahead paleo meals on my post 10 Easy Slow Cooker Paleo Meals.)

14 comments:

  1. I have found meatloaf freezes well. I stuff mine with spinach and roasted red pepper. I will generally prepare two loaves and freeze one to have another week.

    Mexican style shredded chicken (I make mine with with chilies, cilantro, tomatoes, onion and spices) is another option. Serve with black beans and salsa.

    Also, bolognese sauce freezes well. I will serve the bolognese over sphagetti squash or incorporate it into a quick veggie lasagna.

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    1. Great ideas, thanks!!! Do you freeze the meatloaf before cooking it or after?

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  2. Any of the crock pot meat that we make gets eaten once (usually w/mashed cauli, sauteed cabbage, or spaghetti squash) and the leftovers go in the freezer. My daughter HATES leftovers. We leave it in the freezer for at least a week, then thaw and re-purpose....usually in a casserole of some sort.

    We also will do what I call "TV dinners" because I like to pretend I grew up in the '50's, lol. I use my single serving storage containers and put a little of everything in it (spaghetti squash and Swedish meatballs, for example) to freeze, then reheat at work. It works surprisingly well, especially for the meals that aren't easily re-purposed.

    PaleoPot Sweet Potato Casserole freezes really well. Reheated with a couple of fried eggs on top and you can conquer any Crossfit Lady.

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    1. That's smart. I should probably make more of an effort to make extra and freeze servings like that... we actually like leftovers, it just seems like we hardly ever have any these days because we eat everything up! Perhaps I should start making double...

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  3. I have been doing Freezer Meal workshops for Tastefully Simple and I found a Paleo Menu!!! 10 freezer meals, totally quick and convenient. Let me know if you want details! You know where to find me. <3

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    1. Wow, I never would have thought TS would work with a paleo menu, that's cool.

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    2. I would love to know about it.

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    3. I would also love the details for the 10 freezer meals! I ran over to your blog, but I'd love to get an e-mail vosterson@live.com if you find the time :)

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    4. I will see if Katie and I can tackle this for you all!

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  4. My favorite and go to freezer meal is taco soup: taco meat (make a double batch this would be the left overs), bone broth (beef or chicken depending on the meat), can of diced tomatoes, 16oz of salsa or pico de gallo. It can be frozen as one family meal or divided into mason jar and vacuum sealed for individual meals. It can be re-heated on the stove, crock pot, or microwave. Once-A-Month-Mom now has a Paleo menu, and some of the recipes are Whole30 and 21DSD friendly. Talk about bringing paleo mainstream! http://onceamonthmom.com/10-day-specialty-paleo-2012-menu/
    I would love a follow up post that highlights what you found, especially as spring sports are starting.

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    1. Good ideas, thanks! I know what you mean about paleo heading mainstream - it is great! I am loving all the ideas circulating Pinterest, too! I am thinking of trying to do some sort of follow up before summer - maybe will grill/crockpot recipes?

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  5. I may chicken nuggets specifically for freezing and cooking later...

    Chicken breasts cut into nuggets. Toss them in a bag with coconut flour and whatever spices (salt, pepper, etc.) you want. Shake off the excess flour, then dredge dip both sides of the nuggets in beaten egg. Completely coat the nugget with shredded coconut. Then I place them on a parchment line baking sheet. When all the nuggets are complete, I pop the baking sheet into the freeze. Usually I just leave them overnight and package them into a freezer bag in the morning. When I'm ready for a quick meal, I pull a few out and bake them in the toaster oven at 375 for about 20 minutes. Voila, instant easy dinner!

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  6. Yum, sounds delish! I love that they are baked - seems so much simpler than frying. Thanks for sharing your recipe!

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