Freezer meals for the microwaveless
March 2, 2019 12:07 AM   Subscribe

We're stocking the freezer with meals in anticipation of the imminent arrival of our fry. We do not have a microwave. What are some good freezeable foods that can be reheated in the oven/stove/Instant Pot?

I discovered the freezer burrito through Metafilter, so we already have a freezer drawer of those. I'm aware of recipes that call for putting a bunch of chopped and measured ingredients into a zip loc bag, freezing it, then cooking from frozen in a pressure or slow cooker, but looking up Instant Pot freezer meals like this takes me into a terrifying digital nether world of pop up ads and subscription meal plans that I find deeply confusing. Suggestions for specific recipes that you know work well would be great!

We're going through a meat eating phase, so no real restrictions, though the more veggies the better!
posted by nerdfish to Food & Drink (17 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
The search term I used is slow cooker freezer meals. I'd come across this term a while ago when looking into meal prep and slow cookers. looks promising, I think is the first one I saw a while ago. Also Hope that helps! Haven't tested any of these meals personally however.
posted by freethefeet at 12:48 AM on March 2, 2019

Oh- sorry for not reading properly. You can probably convert most slow cooker meals to instant pot ones.
posted by freethefeet at 1:32 AM on March 2, 2019

Frozen veggie burgers cook up quick.

Markets near me that have South Asian food often have frozen breads that come out from a few seconds in the oven or on the griddle really quite nicely and are a good accompaniment for many of the sorts of stews that can be made in a slow cooker.

Markets with Middle Eastern food have frozen falafel, which in combination with tortillas kept in the fridge and some fresh veggies and hummus and tahini can combine into falafel wraps.

Larger supermarkets near me just started selling Goya Foods frozen chiles rellenos which are excellent.
posted by XMLicious at 2:13 AM on March 2, 2019 [1 favorite]

They take up kind of a lot of space, but lasagna in those disposable foil pans. Bonus: easy cleanup.
posted by Night_owl at 3:39 AM on March 2, 2019

Commercially prepared frozen dinners can be heated in a conventional oven, not just a microwave. So you basically have the whole TV dinner section of practically any supermarket ever. If you really want to maximize your dollar and convenience, a membership to a wholesale club like Costco or Sam’s Club would be useful.
posted by Autumnheart at 4:33 AM on March 2, 2019 [1 favorite]

Quiches. Whenever I make a quiche, I usually double it an freeze one. They taste better warmed in the oven as the crust doesn’t get soggy like it does in the microwave.

I also love quiches as freezer meals because you can have them for breakfast, lunch, or dinner without feeling weird and you can eat it cold or hot without feeling weird which makes it very versatile.

I use the quiche base recipes from Alexandra Cooks and add whatever fillings I am in the mood for.
posted by Suffocating Kitty at 5:06 AM on March 2, 2019 [2 favorites]

Any soup of course, I freeze them in 1.5 pt mason jars, and put them in the fridge a day ahead of time.

I make a lot of one-pot/meal-in-a-bowl dishes and they all freeze/thaw fine. Hoppin John, pasta dishes, squash with sausage and veggies (aka squasage) etc. Savory bread pudding with mushrooms and peas is a great one to make a large batch of, most people I’ve served it to have never heard of bread pudding for dinner but they all have loved it (that goes in the oven, but most things are stove-top ready once they’ve thawed just a little).

Also, for the little one: I made up batches of mashed boiled veggies (eg carrots, potato etc) and froze those into 1” ice cube trays. Then for meal times you can thaw them by sitting in a bowl that is itself sitting in boiled water, like a double boiler.
posted by SaltySalticid at 5:39 AM on March 2, 2019 [1 favorite]

I’ve done this Smitten Kitchen pasta bake from freezer (unbaked) to oven (from frozen) for myself and friends with new babies, and it does well. I use broccolini instead of rabe since I prefer the taste.

Chili does well too. Sometimes I remember to defrost it first, other times I dump it in a frozen block into a covered pot on the stove over low heat and let it defrost and reheat for a while.
posted by olinerd at 5:40 AM on March 2, 2019 [1 favorite]

Check out The Family Freezer - her recipes are great.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:07 AM on March 2, 2019

My soup freezing tip is to save it in gallon size ziplock bags for easy and fast(er) thawing. Also a bit easier to store because they stack, whereas the round quart containers I love don't fit super nicely together.

I also can tell you that it's faster to thaw things by sitting them in a cold running water bath. Just make sure the water doesn't get into the contents.
posted by bilabial at 6:19 AM on March 2, 2019 [1 favorite]

If you have a vacuum sealer, like a FoodSaver, then you can seal and freeze individual portions that can be reheated by putting the whole sealed frozen packet in a pot of boiling water for about 10-15 minutes.

Also, the vacuum-sealing process means that things don’t get dried out and freezer-burned in the freezer. Frozen meals are good for much longer. I have personally eaten sealed meals that had been in the freezer for a year, and they were still very good.

Foods that freeze well in vacuum-sealed packets tend to be the kind of dishes that are cooked for a long-ish time with moist heat. Any kind of stew, chili, casserole, enchilada, lasagna, baked ziti, stuffed shells. If you’d cook it in a slow-cooker, a Dutch oven, or an Instant Pot, or if it is oven-baked with generous amounts of sauce in a deep pan, it’ll seal and freeze well.

Burritos and tacos work too, as long as the filling fulfills the above requirement. Tortillas can stand being reheated in the sealed packet, though you’ll likely need a fork to eat the result, rather than picking it up in your hands.
posted by snowmentality at 7:05 AM on March 2, 2019 [1 favorite]

A trick for oven meals: Portion into bread pans, pre-cooked or cook in pan, freeze. Then remove from pans (dip in hot water briefly to loosen), wrap well, label and return to freezer. The frozen brick will then fit back into the pan and can be reheated in a slow oven and the pan will be available while the meal sits in the freezer. This works because the slight flare of the bread pan allows the frozen food to slip out so it won't work with a lot of casseroles.
posted by Botanizer at 7:27 AM on March 2, 2019 [5 favorites]

A warning. My spouse and I made thirty-two pounds of delicious lasagna before our first child was born. That first child had colic, screaming three hours every night. Advice that a nursing mom should try avoiding all dairy products in her diet, to see if that helped, meant all that frozen lasagna was no use to us when we needed it most. We should have gone for more variety.
posted by chromium at 7:32 AM on March 2, 2019 [2 favorites]

Whoa, what a coincidence. Also have spawn on the way (arriving [checks watch] Tuesday) banked a bunch of freezer meals, but microwaveless. We do have a toaster oven, but will probably err on the side of saucepan and oven.

We opted towards stews mostly, with a couple exceptions.

Lasagna bolognese (through step 6)
Made enough extra bolognese for a few meals of pasta
Texas chili con carne (completely cooked, same for following two:)
Beef stew
Carbonnade flamande

Couple meta points: I did most of these in a 275-degree oven in an 8 qt dutch oven but instant pot (in increments of probably half that) would work too. At the end, I separated "sauce" and "solids" and chilled them separately, then portioned each by weight into foil takeout pans. I put plastic wrap over the contents inside the pans to cut down on freezer burn, but we're eating them all fairly quickly.

That took up a lot more space in our chest freezer than we were expecting; I made enough servings (6x for 2 adults) to each almost overwhelm a giant dutch oven. I might try to also bank meatloaf and boeuf bourguignon and shepherd's pie before my monthlong leave ends.

The idea of freezing in a brick then rewrapping or vacuum sealing is really smart. If I wasn't so exhausted after a bunch of all-day braises I probably would have done this. Would also reheat well with an immersion circulator. If I had my druthers we'd have a chamber vacuum sealer that would be perfect for it but that's mostly because I love gadgets.
posted by supercres at 8:33 AM on March 2, 2019 [2 favorites]

I had made all these recipes before and loved them. A trial run if you have time before making a million portions is probably not the worst idea. Something can be a good recipe but need modifications for you.

For the chili: order the whole dried chiles online if you don't have an exceptionally good Mexican grocery nearby.
posted by supercres at 8:35 AM on March 2, 2019

This short ribs recipe was really great from the freezer. You’ll want to reheat it in a sauce pan. I served it with steamed green beans and rice.

(I didn’t have the plum wine, just used regular white wine.)
posted by vunder at 10:17 AM on March 2, 2019

I discovered this book years ago. Some of the recipes are very "midwestern church lady" though to be honest, I find them comforting. I too am not a fan of the microwave, and I have yet to use one to prepare these meals.

Don't Panic: More Dinner's in the Freezer - A Second Helping of Tasty Meals You Can Make Ahead

posted by Sequined Ballet Flats at 9:05 PM on March 2, 2019

« Older What about paraprofessionals in drug rehab and...   |   Settle this card game dispute (on my side... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.