It’s no secret. I’m a foodie. I eat, sleep, live and breathe food. If I’m bored, my mind wanders to what I’m going to create next in the kitchen. An afternoon or evening spent creating and combining foods stirs my creativity and feeds my passion.
That being said, I’ve come to realize of late, that in my quest to eat healthy, well-balanced, veggie-packed meals, I’m often not the most efficient of chefs. Because I don’t have the demands of a husband and family greeting me when I get home from work, I have more time to spend chopping, mixing and roasting, and before I know it, I will have spent 20 or more minutes making one lunch for the next day, and have not even started on supper!
This is ok from time to time, but, as much as I love food and cooking, there is life that is lived outside of the kitchen. So lately, I’m striving to create more – “cook once, reheat in one (or more) meal” type of dishes – which, right now is mostly a lot of soups and stews (perfect for the cold weather we’ve finally been getting) that go nicely in the freezer. Added bonus? Soups often taste better the second time around. Allow me to share some of the latest and greatest, in hopes that you too can shave some time off your culinary routine!
So the first dish you see is a spicy (although not nearly as spicy as I would have liked) chickpea stew with loads of veggies (carrots, eggplant, onion, Swiss chard) and the spices you see pictured – tumeric, crushed red pepper flakes, cumin, chipotle chile powder and ancho chile powder. For two servings of the soup (I made it last weekend and ate it for lunch on Sunday and saved one serving for later in the week), I used 2 teaspoons of olive oil and a cup of chickpeas. Basically just sauté the veggies, add some water, salt, the spices and chickpeas, and simmer till everything’s tender and flavours have blended. Each serving has 3 points plus, and I served it over cooked amaranth (the latest and greatest alternative grain I’ve tried – so cute and tiny!). Half a cup of the amaranth (cooked) has 3 points plus (from the best I could figure). A great protein, fibre and veggie-packed lunch for only 6 points plus – bargain!
Friday, I had an unexpected day off, so I used that time to my advantage and made a big pot of bean and tofu curry stew, and squirreled away 4 servings of that in the freezer (2 points plus each) for safe keeping. If you want to make it yourself, it’s basically a cross between this lentil one and this tofu one (which also made 2 servings one of which was frozen and eaten for lunch last week) except I used my sprouted bean mix from Costco instead of lentils and my veggies were celery, green pepper, onion, squash and kale.
And, over the holidays, I made my grandma’s spaghetti sauce, 4 servings total, 2 of which we ate for supper, 1 of which my mom had for lunch, and one of which is still in the freezer waiting to be reheated with some spaghetti squash for a delicious lunch for yours truly. I used extra lean ground beef this time instead of the chicken, but that only ups the points plus value by 1, so it’s still pretty decent, especially if you have it over spaghetti squash and not pasta.
Of course, let’s not forget my lentil taco filling (LOVE that stuff), of which I ate two servings in lunches this week (one in a random yet awesome salad with beets (which I also pre-cooked a bunch of to have on hand for quick lunches), brown rice and spinach, among some other veggies. Weird, yes, but also delicious. And the other one was just reheated and served in corn tortillas with a side salad). And I still have one delicious serving waiting for me in the freezer, after that, I’ll make more ‘cause it’s so easy!
And then last Thursday I dusted off (literally – it was on the top of my bookshelf and hadn’t been used in a while so it had dust on top of it) my old Weight Watchers cookbook and tried a new recipe when my sister was visiting for chicken, sausage and capers that served 4 and there were only two of us. Although the portion was a tad on the small side (and 6 pts + per serving, FYI), it had lots of protein and was quite delicious, and great to pack for lunch the next day (which actually turned into lunch the next week due to my unexpected day off Friday). I have never cooked with Italian sausage before so it was nice to try it for a change of pace. There’s a couple uncooked sausages in my fridge that I’m looking forward to experimenting with.
So, all that to say, my freezer is fairly well-stocked right now and I should be able to shave some time off my kitchen routine over the next few weeks. The only question is, what to do with it? (Any suggestions?) What are your favourite make-ahead and freeze/double-duty meals? Feel free to link it up!