Meatless Freezer Meals

Back before I had Little Dude I went to Costco and bought five pounds of ground beef to turn into freezer meals. They were tasty meals, but after his birth I discovered that my body really needs more fiber. During the last few years our family has transitioned away from eating meat so often (now it's probably about once or twice a week at most). With this recent baby I wanted to have some meals in the freezer but didn't want them to involve meat. Thankfully many of my regular recipes have worked well in the freezer and it has been great to be able to have some easy dinners on hand. I just thought I'd share a few of my recipes.

I did try one for a veggie lasagna with white sauce, but it wasn't that great and I think that it would be just as easy and cost-effective to buy the Stouffers one next time. In addition to casseroles, I also made a few batches of spaghetti sauce and froze them. Plain cooked beans and chili are also two other meatless meal ideas that freeze well. Soups can be good in the freezer, but I've found that bean-based ones or pureed veggie soups last better than ones with pasta in them or potatoes.

Recipes:

Spaghetti Pie
I got the original recipe from a friend a few years ago and it has become one of our favorites. You can make it healthier by using lower fat cheeses and whole grain noodles if you like.

1 lb. spaghetti noodles
1/4 cup butter
2 eggs
15 oz. ricotta cheese
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
2-3 tbs. snipped parsley (optional)
1 jar spaghetti sauce
2 cups shredded mozzarella

Cook spaghetti noodles and drain; combine hot noodles with butter until it melts. Stir in ricotta, parmesan, parsley, and some salt and pepper. Divide noodles between two pie plates or 8-inch square pans. Cover top of each with spaghetti sauce and cover with foil. Bake covered for 20 minutes at 350 degrees, then take off foil, sprinkle with mozzarella and bake for another 10-15 minutes.

Refried Bean Enchiladas

1 16 oz. can refried beans
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. garlic powder
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
8-10 (or more) small corn tortillas
1 16 oz. can enchilada sauce
1 small can sliced olives

Mix together refried beans, sour cream, spices, and about 1/2 cup cheddar cheese (I tend to not really measure this step--I usually add more sour cream and eyeball the spices and cheese). Grease a 9x13 pan and pour some enchilada sauce in the bottom. Microwave tortillas until soft, then fill with bean mixture and put in pan (I use a different number of tortillas each time--when it cooks the tortillas tend to fall apart and meld with the filling, so serving it is a bit more like a casserole than traditional enchiladas). Cover with the remaining enchilada sauce, sprinkle with remaining cheese, and top with sliced olives. Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes. Serve with additional sour cream, chopped cilantro, and/or shredded lettuce.

Italian Chickpea Soup

1 medium onion, diced
olive oil
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp. thyme
4 cups vegetable broth or water
2 cans of chickpeas (garbanzos), drained
1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced in 1-inch cubes
3 carrots, peeled and diced in 1-inch cubes
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
1 tbls. prepared yellow mustard

In a large pot, saute onion in a bit of olive oil until softened. Add garlic and cook for about 30 seconds-1 minute until soft but not brown. Stir in broth, garbanzos, seasoning, and vegetables. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 15 minutes until vegetables are very soft. Take off heat, remove bay leaf, add mustard, and use a potato masher to mash soup into a chunky puree (garbanzos will be mostly whole, veggies should fall apart). Season to taste with salt and pepper; you can also stir in some chopped parsley for color and flavor.

Butternut Squash Soup with Apple

1 butternut squash
1 small onion, diced
4 cups chopped, peeled apples
4 cups vegetable or chicken broth
1/2 tsp. ginger
1/4 tsp. nutmeg

Cut squash in half, place halves in a baking pan and put a little water in the bottom. Cover with foil and roast at 375 for between 45 minutes and an hour until the squash is nice and soft. Let it sit until cool enough to handle, then remove the skin and seeds and puree in a blender (you can make the squash puree earlier in the day and finish the soup later, or even freeze it to use later). Put onion, apples, and broth in a soup pan and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for about 10 minutes or until apples are soft. Either blend using an immersion blender or carefully blend with a regular blender and put back in the pan. Add squash puree, ginger, nutmeg, and salt/pepper to taste. Cook for 5-10 minutes more to blend flavors.

Comments

kadusey said…
I love spaghetti pie (though my recipe is a bit different than yours, more mozzarella and no ricotta, and the sauce goes on after it's baked). I've never thought of freezing it. Would you freeze it before or after baking?
Jenny said…
I love recipes! Thanks.

I always make spinach lasagna instead of a meat lasagna and it freezes great and tastes amazing. I used the allrecipes one with a billion ratings and then just modified the spices and sauce for my own taste.
Gina said…
These sound really great - I can't wait to try them! Thanks for posting them. The mediteranian lentil recipe you posted awhile back has become one of my staples, btw.
FoxyJ said…
Kadusey--

I freeze them before baking; then I usually thaw in the fridge for a day or so before cooking. Sometimes it takes a little longer to cook since they are cold.

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