Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
3 Mar

Reheat and Eat – Frozen Primal Meals

If you don’t have a lot of time to put a meal together there are plenty of fresh Primal meals, like a “big-ass salad” or an omelet, that take only minutes to make. There are times in life, however, when the two free hands it takes to chop up veggies or scramble an egg are occupied with something more pressing, like soothing a new baby or helping your kid with homework or typing a work email that must be sent. There are also times when the only ingredients left in your fridge are a few limp carrots and some unidentifiable leftovers and a trip to the market just isn’t going to happen.

Wouldn’t it be great to just open your freezer and have a selection of home-cooked Primal meals ready to heat up? With a little planning, this dream can be your reality. Set aside one day a month when you cook and stock your freezer, or get in the habit of doubling recipes so you can freeze half for later. The majority of Primal recipes freeze well in cooked form. A few exceptions might be cooked seafood, which tends to turn tough and rubbery, and leafy greens and cabbage, which can be limp and soggy when re-heated. Cooked whole eggs typically freeze fairly well (but egg whites alone don’t) and sauces that contain whole cream or coconut milk can be re-heated successfully (although freezing coconut milk alone usually makes it grainy and watery).

Whatever you’re freezing, keep these tips in mind:

  • Food must be completely cooled before freezing it
  • Freezing food in small portions helps it freeze quickly, which maintains good flavor and texture
  • Freezer wrap (thick paper with a moisture-resistant coating) works well for wrapping solid food. Plastic freezer bags work well to store all kinds of frozen food because they take up less room in the freezer than containers and are easy to label.
  • If using freezer bags, remove all the air from the bag before sealing
  • Always label the contents and date it was made
  • Most cooked food tastes best if eaten within 3 months of being frozen
  • Usually, the best place to defrost food before re-heating it is in the refrigerator
  • Reheating food that is still frozen and hasn’t been defrosted often takes double it’s regular cooking time in a 350 degree F oven
  • Food safety regulations recommend re-heating frozen food to an internal temperature of 165 F before eating it

Soups, stews and saucy meals freeze especially well and defrost quickly. Simply place the bag of frozen soup/stew/sauce in a bowl of hot water until it softens and breaks into pieces, then dump it into a saucepan for stovetop heating. These types of meals are also really easy to freeze in small portions (use a small Ziploc freezer bag) so you can re-heat one serving at a time. If you’d prefer to use glass containers to freeze soups and sauces make sure the glass is tempered and labeled freezer safe, otherwise you are likely to end up with broken glass on your hands.

Cooked meat also freezes well, but needs more time to defrost. The best method is to put the frozen meat in the refrigerator the day before you plan to re-heat it.

For meals that you can take out of the freezer and heat up quickly in the microwave without defrosting, try Omelet Muffins and frittata slices. Or, for snacks that you don’t have to warm up at all, try freezing Cocoa and Coconut Snacks, Primal Energy Bars and Primal Trail Mix.

For something more filling, freeze a meal that’s always a hit and really easy to make ahead of time: meatloaf. To keep things Primal, follow any meatloaf recipe you like and just omit breadcrumbs and oats, which are mainly filler and not truly necessary to hold the loaf together (as long as you add eggs). The recipe below is especially simple and results in a moist, flavorful meatloaf that will please kids and adults alike. Freeze the loaf whole, or cut it into slices for individual servings that can be re-heated in the oven or microwave.

Primal Meatloaf

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds ground meat (a mix of beef and pork works well)
  • 2 eggs, whisked
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, grated or finely chopped
  • 1 celery rib, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • Small handful of fresh parsley springs, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried dill
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Saute garlic, onion, carrot, and celery in butter over medium heat until onions are soft, 6-8 minutes.

In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients together. The best way to mix meatloaf is with your hands.

Put half the meat in a loaf pan and smooth and pat it down with your fingers. Put the rest of the meat in the pan and smooth and pat it down until it’s even.

It’s good to put foil or a rimmed baking sheet under the loaf pan, in case oil or liquid spills over the top. Bake 1 – 1 1/2 hours or until a thermometer inserted into center of meatloaf registers 160°F.

To freeze, first take the meatloaf out of the loaf pan and cool completely in the refrigerator. Wrap the loaf or individual slices tightly in freezer paper then put in a sealed freezer bag.

Ideally, defrost the meatloaf in the refrigerator before reheating in a 350 F oven. Slices of meatloaf can also be reheated in a microwave.


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You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. You absolutely do not need to wait for food to cool before freezing it. That is a leftover from old fridges/freezers which might not have the power to maintain temperature.

    Modern freezers do just fine.

    Freezing before allowing to cool down is safest from a spoilage point of view.

    samjohn wrote on March 7th, 2012
  2. I’d be a bit concerned about heating food in plastics, great article.

    Natedizzle wrote on March 8th, 2012
  3. That looks fantastic! I have been looking for a primal meatloaf! Thanks!

    Jenn wrote on March 9th, 2012
  4. This is just what I’ve been looking for!!! I started back at uni this week and really need to be proactive about meal planning and packing lunches due to limited options. I’ve bookmarked this to use some of the recipes. Thanks!

    Sarah @ The Healthy Diva wrote on March 9th, 2012
  5. I love my freezer…its such a money-saver! I get through a LOT of bone broth each week, and since I also regularly use my slow-cooker, I cannot make Jenny (from Nourished Kitchen) McGruether’s ‘perpetual soup’, so I make a huge batch at the beginning of the week, and freeze it in special freezer bags, and that way I always have some chicken broth. I also freeze my raw milk; the minimum order from my producer is 3 2-liter bottles, which is a lot if you’re living alone! So I freeze most of it – works a treat!

    Milla wrote on March 14th, 2012
  6. I’ve tried a few of your recipes in the past Mark and loved everyone. The Savory Roasted Pumpkin with Beef Short Ribs is my favourite so far. This meatloaf looks very tasty so will have to go on my long list of recipes I need to try :).

    Totally agree with you on the freezer. It’s such a time saver cooking a couple of big meals each week then freezing them to reheat and eat on the other nights.

    Tom

    Tom Parker wrote on March 21st, 2012
  7. I made this last night but added 4 leaves of rainbow chard and shredded all the veggies into really small bits in the food processor. It is seriously delicious and I got the extra leafy greens in there too.

    Amy wrote on March 21st, 2012
  8. I just made this last week and ate it all week long. It was fantastic, especially after sitting in the fridge for a few days, the flavors melded together. I didn’t even get a chance to put some in the freezer because it was all gone. My VERY picky friend loved it. I made the recipe almost exactly as written except I put dried parsley as I didn’t have any fresh. I used 1 pound ground beef and 1 pound of pork. Yum.

    Pherousa wrote on March 22nd, 2012
  9. I’m making this for the second time. the first time was great, I used a mix of beef and chicken gizzards and left out the celery and parsley since I had none. This time it is all gizzards, so I added a couple teaspoons of tomato paste just in case they didn’t give enough taste. And of course it freezes very well. Thanks!

    yorabu wrote on March 23rd, 2012
  10. I made a double-batch of this meatloaf last night with venison and pork (~2lbs each, 2 loaf pans), and it was great. I’m really happy to add this to the arsenal of recipes I can use the ground venison for (the cuts are no problem, but the ground currently mostly goes into chili and stuffed peppers).
    This was my first stab at meatloaf (my mom used to make an insipid variety and I never revisited it), and I froze three halves and left out one to eat over the next couple days. Great recipe!

    ajt wrote on March 23rd, 2012
  11. Tried this this weekend and it is DELICIOUS! and so easy to make. It will last a couple of days too!

    Thanks,
    I will be trying more recipes

    Gayle wrote on March 26th, 2012
  12. I just made this recipe twice in a row, my family loves it!

    Arty wrote on May 18th, 2012
  13. I figured you might like meatloaf the way my boyfriends mother makes it as well. I am going to modify her recipe to not include oats and breadcrumbs of course, but she also adds Mcintosh Apples and Shredded Carrots to her meatloaf it is to die for.

    Pezz wrote on May 26th, 2012
  14. You can stack baggies of wet stuff in a square plastic container. First put a big, labeled (gallon) freezer bag in the plastic container. Make each (quart) baggie sort of flat, and put the next one on top, and continue like that. If you want to fuss, put a paper towel between each layer. When frozen, take the whole thing out and remove the plastic container. Voila, flat, easy-to-thaw quart bags of your good wet stuff ready to thaw.

    A food scientist told me that defrosting in a bucket of ice water is the best way to ensure safety. Just saying.

    Thanks for that great meatloaf recips.

    Susan Holland wrote on June 2nd, 2012
  15. The article is great! I absolutely loved it! Your information
    about the potential of Paleo is remarkable.
    I think the readers of my iPad magazine
    would love it too!

    Rosetta wrote on May 1st, 2013
  16. Shredded zucchini is also great in meatloaf.

    Melissa wrote on July 15th, 2013
  17. When I put food in freezer bags (for freezing in my freezer I lay a paper plate between each one,to keep them from “molding” onto an other one! I remove
    the plates when the bags are frozen,and keep the plates in the freezer for next time when doing the same :) Patti

    Patti wrote on March 5th, 2015

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