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Meals for the freezer

Tomatoes freeze well. Any other suggestions?

My beautiful new goddaughter Abbie is, unsurprisingly, a time-consuming little critter. I hit the shops to buy the kiddo a little present, but then I remembered some wise words from Jean: new parents don’t get time to eat.

These tiny people, cute as they are, demand a lot of attention. When my sister had her first baby, I used to pop around for a few minutes so she could have a chance to shower. Cooking a dinner was both daunting and impossible.

I decided that Abbie would have plenty of clothes. What was really needed was some nosh for her folks. So I set about making mountains of food that they could jam into the freezer.

The containers – the silver foil trays you used to get from Chinese takeaways – are pricey enough: €2.79 for a packet of Glad foil trays with lids. If you’re planning on filling up the fridge, you do need decent containers and you need to be able to label them, otherwise you’ll forget what’s what. If anybody can suggest a cheaper alternative, please let me know.

Red lentil soup

The hardest part is deciding what to make. My sister Barbara recently got the recipe for Domini Kemp’s Chunky Veg and Lentil soup from the new Itsa cookbook. Just as delicious as in Itsa, but she discovered that it doesn’t freeze well, losing texture and flavour when defrosted.

Barbs is a great cook and often spends an evening cooking up meals for the week, but she’s cautious. Lots of vegetables don’t freeze well, she said. Cream tends to separate when defrosted. She’s even wary of stews and casseroles, which  should be freezer staples.

Curries freeze well, as do tomato-based dishes and well-blended soups. Home-made bread would, of course, freeze very well, but I figured meals would be more useful for a new mother.

In the end I made a bolognaise sauce (useful for pitta pockets, spaghetti bolognaise, or as a base for lasagna), this Curried Red Lentil and Vegetable soup, and an updated version of this Roasted Vegetable Sauce, adding in some fresh basil and a squeeze of tomato puree. I made a total of 13 portions, so it should keep the new parents (who are both brilliant in their new roles) fed for a while to come.

Now I’m all up for cooking in bulk for the freezer. I only have to look after myself, so I reckon one evening a week every ten days or so could keep me in lunches and dinners for quite a while. But I’m on the look out for any recipe ideas that don’t involve soup, tomatoes, or curries, and which would freeze well. Readers, do you cook in bulk? Is it cheaper and more convenient? And what works/ doesn’t work in the freezer?


  1. Hi there, i’m sure i’ve seen those foil containers in 2 euro shops, not sure if they had covers or not. They had different sizes.

  2. I find most pasta dish do ok. I often freeze lasagna for example.

    Doesn’t using silver foil containers mean that you can’t use the microwave to defrost the meal though?

  3. Ikea sell very cheap plastic food storage boxes:

    you’re generally best off putting frozen stuff into a microwavable dish (pyrex or whatever) rather than defrosting in plastic boxes – the boxes get discoloured & damaged and there’s allegedly some health issues with chemicals leeching into the food.

    Modern microwaves supposedly do work with foil containers but it hasn’t worked very well any time I’ve tried it (they don’t spark, but the food doesn’t get hot either).

    Chilli freezes well, if anything its better after its been reheated…

  4. Yep, euro 2 shops and other discount stores do those containers, they also do plastic ones.

    Tarts, moussaka, beef stews and meatballs are favourites out of the freezer.

  5. If you know someone with a musgraves card the foil containers are fairly cheap. Can’t remember the price but I do remember looking in a supermarket and nearly keeling over at the price.

  6. Equal quantities of cooked fish (I get a prepared chowder pack) and mashed spuds with some lemon zest and chopped chives or scallions, and milk or the fish cooking liquid to bind.
    Spread it in a pie dish and fork over the top, it defrosts fairly quickly and can be reheated in the oven.
    Better still, make it into fish cakes and open freeze before bagging. You can take out one or two at a time, and shallow fry from frozen.

  7. i only freeze leftovers if they are substantial…
    raw food freezes better than cooked one…
    vegs dont need defrosting… for every thing else, having raw ingredients in small patches, then planing a head by moving them from freezer to fridge a day before works much better, and is more healthy.
    i grill a chicken, use what i need, freeze the rest in portion size…
    i also buy minced beef io bulk every month or so…i store them in 100 g portions. 1 is enough to flavor any stew. i can of course defrost more if needed.
    also, if you missed planing a head, microwaves are there to the rescue 🙂

    finally, i see the 2 euro store has already been mentioned. they have good range of plastic containers with covers. my advice is dont go for what seems to be more for your money unless you intend to dispose after use. opt for the quality reusable instead.

  8. I use the 10 pack of plastic containers from the €2 store,to fill up lunches & dinners for the freezer. Same size as the foil container.

  9. Oh, and I do get a few uses out of them before I need to get any new ones.

  10. By the way, anything with fresh or frozen spinach ever comes out less than watery from the freezer.

  11. Hi

    I’m pregnant at the moment and we bought a new freezer during the summer with the intention of cooking up some batch meals and freezing them for when the new arrival is in town! So far I’ve made spaghetti bolegnese, savoury mince, soups, home made burgers, stew. And I hope to do some lasagne and chicken pie fillig also (so then all i’ll have to do is add mash or pastry on top).

    Baking is also handy to have in the freezer like muffins, buns, bread – a nice treat for the visitors!

    Homestore and more apparently have the foil containers. I got some during the summer when they were in shops for bbqs etc.

    good luck.

  12. Siob, visitors should be bringing you nice treats, not the other way ’round!

  13. Defintely cooking in bulk here, particularly if there’s a busy week ahead. There’s grand value to be had in the 2 Euro shops for food containers or mini lunchbox type containers that hold up well in the freezer. One of my favourites is to do up a shepherd’s pie and freeze the individual portions, leave it out in the morning when heading to work and it’s nicely (and naturally) defrosted in time for work.

    Definitely saves on the food bills though and if you don’t have an issue with eating the same dinner a few days in a row, all the better!

  14. From my days of making my children’s baby food all from scratch, I love Babypotz for freezing food – they’re reusable and you can buy them in a variety of sizes. It’s an Irish business too:

  15. I never freeze pasta (except lasagnes) as it take as much time to cook it as it takes to defrost it! 🙂 I freeze the sauce and serve with the freshly cooked pasta…
    Bolognese is so versatile: with pasta, rice or mash, as chilli con carne (just add chilli falkes and can of kidney beans), baked potato filling, frittata filling……
    I also cook or roast chicken then shred it and freeze, to heat up with sauce (from freezer or jar) and serve with rice.
    Rice can be frozen after cooked and cooled. Defrost in the fridge (first thing in the morning, will be good for dinner) then steam or microwave.

  16. Curry pastes are really great to freeze too. We make them in a big batch and they do for ages. The addition of meat and coconut milk and you’re done!

    Agree with Siob – burgers are also excellent in the freezer.

  17. You are the dream godfather and friend!
    What’s in my freezer now? Lasagna (vegetarian and meat ones), shepperd pie, vegetarian moussaka (Darina Allen’s), soup, chicken with white wine sauce, fish pie, fish stew in tomato based sauce, gratin dauphinois, a vast array of vegetables, some fruits (a bought mix) and cheeses.
    Vegetables with high water content (courgette for instance) go mushy when defrosted. The rest just need blanching (a quick dip in boiling water) and can be frozen raw and then thrown directly into soups and casseroles. Cream splits if low fat, use full fat only.

  18. Hi Reading all the great coments I note I must be a mean old sod when it comes to freezing/containers
    I use the plastic containers from the 2euro shop to freeze the food, then empty the frozen food out of the container and into a freezer bag which I can write /lable
    as the bags are a lot cheaper and easyer to store
    also as I only put cold food for freezing into the containers they do not get discoloured for a very long time.
    Enjoy the new arrival.

  19. Recently discovered that milk cartons (the 250ml plastic jug style) are pretty good for freezing soups. I also cut litre milk cartons in half and use to freeze stock.

  20. Same as Fergus but slight twist on it. I put the food in the plastic bags, then sit the bags into the tubs – generally old ice-cream tubs, this gives the packages a nice square shape. Once frozen remove the ice-cream tub and use again. We freeze everything that is left over – but especially things like spag bol, chilli con carne, curries, ratatouille, sliced pans, naans when on special, margarine (never finish a big tub before mouldy) so I remove a third, put in a tub and then leave two thirds, separated in the tub for later use, egg whites, fruit, cheese from France etc etc,