Frozen meal short cuts?
July 1, 2012 4:39 PM   Subscribe

What sauces, pastes, relishes or other partial meals can I prepare in batches and freeze?

I've been busy of late and haven't always had as much time to cook as I'd like, and batches of green curry paste that I've made and frozen have come in really handy. I'd like to spend some time next weekend stocking up on things that might come in similarly useful: do you have any ideas or recipes?

I'd rather not freeze whole servings of food because my freezer is really small and we never seem to eat whole portions stored away for later, they just add to the clutter. It might help to know that I don't have a microwave for defrosting.

Other examples of the sort of thing I mean are that I've made some amazing harissa, and some disappointing paste for Singapore fried noodles. I know I can buy very good examples of these, but I'm looking for both an excuse for kitchen pottering, and the virtuous feeling that comes from having prepared something ahead.
posted by calico to Food & Drink (14 answers total) 38 users marked this as a favorite
Just did the same this weekend. I made simple pesto (leave out the cheese until thawed) and salsa. Both use fresh ingredients available at this time of year too. We did this last summer and both worked out well.

I froze them in small jars, leaving about a half inch at the top for expansion. Last year, I used ziplock bags and froze them into little flat packages.

posted by mamabear at 4:47 PM on July 1, 2012

pesto can also be frozen on ice cube trays. Alfredo can, too, but is more finicky to unfreeze.
posted by kellyblah at 4:49 PM on July 1, 2012

full on from-scratch home-made bolognese sauce freezes and thaws magnificently (and its soooooo good)
posted by supermedusa at 4:50 PM on July 1, 2012 [2 favorites]

Oh, marinara can be frozen in cube trays as well, then used with a cutlet, or grilled frozen eggplant rounds for parmigana type stuff, too.
posted by kellyblah at 4:52 PM on July 1, 2012

I do pesto with cheese frozen. Seems to work okay. Be sure to tin-foil wrap your ice cube trays to prevent freezer burn.
posted by angrycat at 4:57 PM on July 1, 2012

I'll tell you what I would make, since you mentioned making your own harissa: sriracha! The recipe on that site (a login is required to get the recipe down at the bottom of the page, but it's free) is on the sweeter, saucier side than what you would get in a bottle. It could definitely be frozen in ice-cube-sized portions to be tossed into a dish.
posted by bcwinters at 5:13 PM on July 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

I do that with taco meat, and freeze it in ice cube trays. Two of them popped into the microwave for about 25 seconds come out warm but not steaming hot, ready to be used on a quesadilla.

You can freeze guacamole in ice cube trays and nuke it to thaw it out, too.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 6:56 PM on July 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

Diced onions are really handy to have on hand and freeze well, as are stock (any kind) and tomato paste.

Instead of ice cube trays, I pour things into ziplock bags so that they lay flat (not overstuffed). If you lay chopsticks between them during the freezing process, they'll break off easily into individual servings, though that is not strictly required -- it is pretty easy to crumble them anyway. This method is especially nice because the bags are so small and easy to store.
posted by susanvance at 7:18 PM on July 1, 2012 [2 favorites]

Caramelized onions freeze excellently, and they're easier to make in big batches anyway. Chop up a gazillion onions, spend an hour cooking them down over low heat, portion them out and freeze them in ziplock baggies.
posted by nebulawindphone at 8:46 PM on July 1, 2012

Diced stuff generally works out pretty well. My mom always used to freeze chopped peppers, tomatoes, cooked chicken, and the like for making pizzas or wrap/burrito sort of things on the quick. I keep a big bag of frozen hot peppers and use a few at a time.

My single favorite pre-prepped freezer thing, though, is strawberry puree, with or without added sugar. We used to go through gallons of the stuff in the summers. Maybe not super feasible unless you grow your own strawberries or get a good deal on a bunch at once.
posted by brennen at 10:01 PM on July 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

I make just the chile verde sauce from this recipe, then freeze it in smaller portions, so I can later use it in smaller meals using different meats.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:49 AM on July 2, 2012

I came to say spaghetti sauce freezes really well. And also to nth, chopped onions, peppers, herbs, etc.

I also like a coconut sauce for Dominican Fish.

Another awesome recipe is for Malaysian Chicken. You keep a very small jar of the Malaysian curry in the fridge, and mix with coconut milk and water. I get it at H-Mart in the Curry Section. This is for Roti. I can also get the pancakes because the sauce is so freaking good.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:58 AM on July 2, 2012

Enchilada sauce freezes well and makes for quick meals. I use this recipe for killer cheese enchiladas and use this one for black bean enchiladas with green sauce when I have tomatillos. (Note: that second link goes to the sauce recipe, but there should be a link on the page somewhere to the "quick and easy black bean" recipe that's used for the filling; the site appears to be down at the moment, so I can't check.)

I make a lot of Asian and Indian food, so I like to chop up jalapenos and ginger root and freeze them. I line a muffin pan with a piece of plastic wrap (push it down into the depressions) and fill each hole with a measured amount of chopped jalapeno or ginger--usually 1 jalapeno or 1 tablespoons ginger, since that's what most recipes call for. I then top each with a tablespoon or two of veggie stock, just so that they freeze into nice little solid blocks. I put the muffin tin in the freezer until the stuff is frozen hard, then pop out the blocks and put them in a labeled freezer bag. When I use them, I usually just throw them in the pan frozen and they thaw quickly.
posted by WorkingMyWayHome at 9:17 AM on July 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

Velouté sauce is a simple base sauce made of roux and and a stock. You can use meat, fish or even veggie stock. It freezes well (unlike cream sauces) and can form a versatile basis for pan gravies and other more complex sauces. Add say white wine, tarragon and shallots for chicken, dill and lemon for fish, fennel and chives etc.
You can be all snooty and say that your dish incorporates one of Auguste Escoffier's mother sauces too.
posted by islander at 6:11 PM on July 2, 2012

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