Ultra-Convenient Healthy Freezer Meals (Includes My FAV Chocolate Oat Cookies!)

31 Jan 2018

For the modern working mom, the idea of prepping healthy dinners from scratch DAILY can be – quite honestly – horrifying. Whilst I actually do enjoy cooking (baking especially, thanks to my sweet teeth), it loses its shine when you’re short on time and it feels like another obligation on an overflowing to do list.

In my recent quest for minimalism, one thing I’ve been revisiting is a little thing I like to call freezer food. Not so glamorous in name, I know, but HIGHLY useful in earning you some more precious time in your day. I propose this: Rather than cooking five times a week at around an hour and a half at a time, spend two of those evenings cooking freezer-friendly dinner in bulk. Soon, you’ll have a stock of meals in the freezer, and you’ll get into the swing of only needing to cook fresh meals once or twice a week, relying on your delicious freezer meals on the other days. How convenient!

Remember that what you freeze your meals in MATTERS. In a new age riddled with hormone-influencing BPA, we need to pay attention to how much poor quality plastic we’re exposed to. I talk about Sistema plastic containers a lot, because they’re still the BEST brand when it comes to storing and preparing food. They have patented all their impressive airtight seals and clips, and – most importantly – they’re free from BPAs and pthalates.

Here are a few of my favourite vegetarian dinner-type recipes that are GREAT for freezing.

Fruity Bobotie
Guys, this is such a delicious complete meal that freezes beautifully. Not to be missed!

Serves 10

Ingredients:
500g butternut, cubed
2 T olive oil
2 onions, finely chopped
5 cloves garlic, crushed
3 T curry powder
500g extra lean mince
2 cans lentils, drained and rinsed
2 cans chopped tomato
½ cup raisins
3 T fruit chutney
2 bay leaves
1-2 chillies, seeded and finely chopped or 1 tsp chilli flakes (optional)
6 large eggs
2 cups low fat milk
Salt and pepper to taste
Fresh coriander, to serve

Method:

  • Preheat oven to 180 C.
  • Steam the butternut until almost cooked and set aside.
  • In a large saucepan, heat the oil and fry onions until golden. Add in garlic and fry further, followed by the curry powder.
  • Add the mince, season with salt and pepper and fry until browned.
  • Add all remaining ingredients apart from eggs, milk and coriander. Bring to the boil then allow to simmer for 10-15 minutes.
  • Press mixture into a large oven proof dish. Whisk together egg and milk, season with salt and pepper and bake for 45 minutes, or until golden.
  • Serve with fresh coriander and chutney.

Golden Spiced Lentil Soup
This beautiful, rich and flavourful meal is another must. It will give you the satiation of a curry with none of the calories. And like all curries, it’s even tastier over time, making it an ideal freezer meal!

Serves 4

Ingredients:
1 ½ T extra virgin olive / coconut oil
1 large onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 t turmeric powder
1 ½ t cumin powder
½ t cinnamon
¼ t cardamom powder
1 can diced tomatoes
1 full-fat coconut milk (tastes significantly better than lite)
¾ cup uncooked red lentils, rinsed and drained
3 ½ cups prepared vegetable stock
Freshly ground black pepper
Chilli flakes or cayenne pepper, to taste
1 packet baby spinach (or roughly 5 cups, loosely packed)
2 t fresh lemon juice, or more to taste

Method:

  • In a large pot, add the oil, onion, and garlic. Add a pinch of salt, stir, and sauté over medium heat for 4 to 5 minutes until the onion softens.
  • Stir in the turmeric, cumin, cinnamon, and cardamom until combined. Continue cooking for about 1 minute, until fragrant.
  • Add tomatoes, coconut milk, red lentils, broth, salt, and plenty of pepper. Add chilli flakes or cayenne, if desired, to taste. Stir to combine. Increase heat to high and bring to a low boil.
  • Once it boils, reduce the heat to medium-high, and simmer, uncovered, for about 20-25 minutes, until the lentils are tender.
  • Turn off the heat and stir in the spinach until wilted. Add the lemon juice to taste. Taste and add more salt and pepper, if desired.

Hearty Bean and Quinoa Soup
This is one of those recipes that ticks every box. Super filling, rich in protein and packed with tons of veggies. Delicious! And a perfect meal to freeze.

Serves 5

Ingredients:
1 T olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
4 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
2 chillies, seeded and chopped
4 ½ cups water
2 large can diced tomatoes
1 can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 ½ t ground cumin
2 t salt
½ cup quinoa, uncooked
¼ cup fresh coriander, chopped
Pinch cayenne pepper (optional)
Freshly ground black pepper

Method:

  • In a medium soup pot, warm the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, carrots, garlic, and chillies. Sauté until the vegetables are tender, about 8 minutes.
  • Add the water, tomatoes, beans, cumin, salt, quinoa, coriander and cayenne pepper (if using). Season with pepper and bring the soup to a boil.
  • Once boiling, lower the heat, cover the pot, and let the soup simmer until the quinoa is tender, about 25 minutes. Once the quinoa is tender, add more salt and pepper to taste, if necessary. Using a hand blender, partially puree the soup to your desired consistency.

No-Bake Chocolate Oat Cookies
Ok, this is totally not a dinner meal but it’s DELICIOUS. You’ll want these bad boys stashed in your freezer at all times for when that chocolate craving hits. Honestly, it’s better than chocolate! Try the recipe and let me know what you think….

Makes 10-12

Ingredients:
1 ½ cups rolled oats
2 t chia seeds (optional)
¼ cup desiccated coconut (optional)
1/3 cup coconut oil
½ cup peanut butter
½ cup honey
¼ cup raw cacao powder
Pinch of vanilla extract

Method:

  • Add the oil, honey, peanut butter, cacao powder and vanilla extract to a small saucepan and melt together over medium heat.
  • Remove from heat then pour in the oats or substitutes and chia seeds. Stir thoroughly.
  • Spray and cook a baking sheet then drop big spoonfuls at a time on the tray. Mould into disks if your mixture is a little drier, or add a little more coconut oil. Freeze for 30 minutes and store until ready to eat.