Did you make a New Year's resolution to get healthy? Did you set a goal to get more organized this year? You can keep both resolutions and save time and money by buying foods in bulk and making meals ahead of time for the fridge and freezer. However, you need the right kinds of recipes because not all foods are freezer-friendly. Here's a quick list of foods that don't freeze well and three recipes with 10 ingredients or less to try in 2015.
Really watery fruits and veggies, like melons and lettuce, just can't tolerate the freezing process. Most other fruits and veggies, including berries and legumes, freeze quite well, especially when incorporated into a recipe.
Eggs don't do that well in the freezer, unless used as a binder (like in meatloaf). Egg-based sauces and mayonnaise can separate and curdle. Dairy-based soups and sauces also tend to separate and get watery if frozen.
While whole loaves of bread freeze well, bread crumbs and other crumbly toppings will get soggy. You can always add those toppings just before baking, though, to get great results.
If your slow cooker has a timer, you can set it and wake up to a hot bowl of oatmeal. Otherwise, make this in advance, refrigerate and reheat. For an extra special touch, top each bowl of oatmeal with Greek yogurt and crumbled blueberry, vanilla and cashew Kind Bars.
- 2 cups steel cut oats
- 8 cups milk
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 pint blueberries
- 1-1/2 cups chopped, roasted and unsalted cashews
- Place the oats, milk, butter, brown sugar, vanilla extract, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt into a slow cooker. Stir to combine.
- Cover and cook on low for 4 hours or on high for 2 hours.
- When ready to serve, stir in the blueberries and cashews.
The base for this soup is made with vegetable stock and beans (instead of milk or cream). The substitution gives it a great velvety texture and makes it perfect for the freezer. Next summer, when you're swimming in fresh veggies, double the recipe and freeze a batch.
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 4 cups medium-diced onion
- 3 cups medium-diced red pepper
- 2 teaspoons salt, divided
- 1 teaspoon pepper, divided
- 5 cups medium-diced eggplant
- 5 cups medium-diced zucchini
- 3 (14.5 ounce) cans stewed tomatoes with basil, garlic, and oregano
- 1 (15 ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 quart vegetable stock
- Heat the oil in a 4- or 5-quart stock pot over medium-high heat. Add the onions, peppers, 1 teaspoon of salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper and saute until the onions are translucent and the peppers are soft. Add the eggplant and saute until it begins to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the zucchini and saute until it begins to soften, another 5 minutes.
- Remove about 3 cups of the sauteed vegetables from the stock pot and set them aside to cool. Add the stewed tomatoes, cannellini beans, vegetable stock and remaining salt and pepper. Bring the mixture up to a simmer for about 10 minutes over medium heat.
- In a blender, being careful with the hot liquid, puree the vegetables in batches. Start on low and slowly increase the speed until you have a smooth soup. Place the pureed soup into another large stock pot, add the reserved sauteed vegetables, and bring the soup up to a simmer over medium heat until heated through.
Honey-barbecue turkey meatloaf
We made this tangy, make-ahead meatloaf in a muffin pan so you could refrigerate or freeze your extra "muffins" for later. Be sure to individually wrap each "muffin" before freezing and label the package with the contents. Thaw the muffins for about 24 hours in the fridge before baking.
- 1/2 pound mushrooms
- 1 medium-sized carrot
- 1 cup finely chopped onion
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 1 cup panko bread crumbs
- 1/3 cup milk
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 3 tablespoons plus 1-1/2 cups honey barbecue sauce, divided
- 1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 2 pounds ground turkey
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a Texas-sized muffin pan with cooking spray, set aside.
- Finely chop the mushrooms and carrots in a food processor. Set aside.
- Cook the onion in the oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Stir occasionally for 5 minutes, or until softened. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the chopped mushrooms and carrot. Cook, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes, or until the liquid from the mushrooms has evaporated. Transfer the mushroom mixture to a large bowl and let the vegetables cool.
- Meanwhile, combine the breadcrumbs and milk in another bowl. Let the mixture stand for 5 minutes and then spoon it in with the vegetables along with the thyme, Worcestershire, 3 tablespoons of barbecue sauce, salt, pepper, eggs and turkey. Mix well.
- Divide the mixture into 6 large balls and place them into the prepared muffin cups. Lightly press the mixture into the cups, keeping a domed top. Take a 1/2 cup of barbecue sauce and spread it evenly over the top of each muffin. Place the filled muffin pan on a baking sheet and place it on the middle rack of the oven. Bake for 45 minutes, or until the middle of each meatloaf has reached 165 degrees F. Serve with the remaining barbecue sauce.
David Venable is the program host of QVC's popular cooking and dining show In the Kitchen with David. He offers a diverse and unique viewership experience with features such as product information, cooking demonstrations, on-air guests, celebrity appearances and live viewer interaction. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.