I will be the first to admit that I am not the biggest fan of cooking. I love to bake … not cook. Isn’t baking v. cooking akin to other extremely important debates such as Prince v. Michael Jackson, Yankees v. Red Sox, and Beatles v. Rolling Stones? Nonetheless, when I was pregnant with my oldest and shortly after she was born, no subject fascinated me more than baby and toddler food and, more specifically, the making of said baby and toddler food. Thus, I became/was/am determined to make a lot of what my girls eat. (Let’s be real and clarify in case you are wondering: Do my girls eat frozen vegetables? Yes. Are some of their favorite things Dr. Praeger’s Spinach Littles? Yes (because, yes, they are delicious). Do we order take-out/pizza? Absolutely.
The only catch to my grand plan is that once I returned to work, I typically am walking in the door about five minutes before an empty stomach, low blood sugar meltdown occurs. Enter my lifesaver … The Freezer. And, lucky for me, there are a number of great resources for freezer-friendly meals. Typically one weekend morning I cook up one or two recipes to freeze for meals throughout the week. Below are a few of my favorite websites and links to some favorite recipes in our house:
Despite its name, Homemade Baby Food Recipes also has a number of recipes catering to toddlers (and even adults). You can search by age, but one reason that I really like this site is because you can search under “Baby Food Recipes and Tips” by specific food item (e.g. quinoa, carrots, etc.), which is a bonus if you are staring at a refrigerator full of a particular food item and are not sure what to do with it. A favorite recipe from this site is:
Nutritious quinoa meatballs (recipe at the bottom of the link) – I have made this recipe using ground beef as well as ground turkey. Both of my girls eat these up. And, if anyone is as big of a quinoa fan as I am (I’m not sure that is possible), as an added bonus, cooked quinoa freezes well. So, when I make this recipe, I usually make a big batch of quinoa (I like to cook it using half water/half vegetable stock to add a little flavor), use some of the quinoa for this recipe and either use the rest for other recipes or freeze individual portions to have as a side dish for other meals.
Weelicious contains family friendly recipes that often can be made using minimal ingredients. The site has a search feature, but you can also peruse recipes according to various categories, including by age range and a number of dietary preferences (e.g. nut free, dairy free, vegetarian). Some of my family’s favorite recipes from Weelicious include:
Baked Zucchini Coins – The first time that I made these my husband, M and I were literally eating them off of the pan as they came out of the oven. I’ve also used this recipe to make baked tofu bites, which were equally delicious. The freezing directions suggest freezing before baking, and when you are ready to eat them, take them out of the freezer and pop them in the oven according to the baking instructions.
Crock Pot Mexican Corn and Bean Soup – My oldest loves soup, corn, and beans … so this was an obvious hit. I have made this according to the recipe, and I have also substituted black beans for the kidney beans. To freeze, I ladle into single serving size freezer containers or a multi-portion freezer tray such as this one by Beaba.
My favorite site right now, however, has to be Once A Month Meals, which is specifically geared towards freezer cooking. It has a variety of searching capabilities – menu type, cooking type, ingredient type, and meal type. I also follow the OAMM Facebook page because it often features links to popular recipes as well as links to monthly menus that are published at the beginning of every month. Here are some favorite recipes from OAMM:
Homemade Cereal Bar Cookies – The first time that I made these my husband proclaimed they were the best thing that I have ever made. So, either everything else that I have made has not been very good or these are really, really good – I’m going with the latter because they are so tasty that I think my husband and I end up eating them more often than the girls. I pulse rolled oats in the food processor for the ground oats and use brown sugar instead of sucanat.
Mini-Meatloaf – These perfectly portioned mini-meatloaves are a hit in our house. I love the recipe because it is one of the few that I found that did not call for ketchup (it uses tomato sauce instead) and includes some veggies. I have substituted ground beef for ground turkey and also used chopped or grated zucchini instead of celery.
Simple Black Bean Soup – This recipe lives up to its name. It is simple, but it is also flavorful (I credit the cumin and chili powder). This would be great in the fall; however, I just recently made a batch due to an overabundance of black beans in the pantry.
Do you have a favorite recipe site? What are some of your favorite freezer-friendly recipes?