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Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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January 04, 2018

10 Freezer-Friendly Meals (and a Giveaway)

By Worker Bee
215 Comments

Chicken Crock Pot Freezer Meals for Slow CookingHealth is about action. If your resolution doesn’t transfer to your routine, it will be dead in the water. Now’s the time to think about what in your routine needs to change to accommodate new choices. Healthy eating, for one, can be simple, but it requires some forethought. Strategic preparation helps, too. In that spirit, we’ve got a practical guide you can apply right away to your Primal diet—not to mention this weekend’s shopping list. Enjoy, everyone.

Stocking your freezer with homemade food is a winning strategy for eating well, especially when life gets really busy. There’s no better feeling than knowing that dinner is already cooked and just needs to be reheated. The easiest way to fill your freezer with meals is to regularly double, or triple, recipes so you regularly have leftovers to freeze. Of course, some meals freeze better than others. Here’s a handy guide for freezing cooked food, plus 10 recipes you should definitely have in your freezer.

How to Freeze & Defrost Cooked Food

Containers

Tupperware (or freezer-friendly Pyrex containers) and freezer bags are the most convenient containers for freezing food. Freezer bags are especially easy to label and space efficient. Fill a bag with food, smooth it out into an even layer and press out all the air (the less air in the bag, the less chance of freezer burn). Flat freezer bags filled with food stack up conveniently in the freezer.

Food Safety

Don’t put hot food in the freezer; always cool it completely first. As a general rule, frozen, cooked food will taste best if eaten within 3 months. If it helps, keep an inventory of frozen meals taped to your freezer door so you don’t forget what’s in there.

Portions

Consider freezing individual portions rather than freezing a big portion of food in one bag. This allows you to defrost a little bit at a time. This is an especially good idea if you want to use frozen meals for lunches, or if you’re not cooking for a big family.

Defrosting

The best and safest way to defrost frozen food is in the refrigerator overnight. Large cuts of cooked meat (like a roast) can take 48 hours to defrost. Defrosting in the refrigerator discourages bacteria (as opposed to defrosting at room temperature, which puts food in the bacteria “danger zone”). Defrosting in the refrigerator also helps maintain the texture of food, so it doesn’t get mushy or grainy.

When defrosting soup or other liquids, there’s also a faster option—immerse the plastic freezer bag filled with soup in cool water just long enough so you can break up the soup, then immediately dump in a pot and reheat.

Reheating

Once defrosted, most frozen meals can be reheated by simmering gently in a pot over medium-low heat. Often, it helps to add ¼ to ½ cup liquid to the pot, such as water, broth or coconut milk. For smaller portions, a microwave can be used, which is especially handy at work. Meals can also be reheated in the oven. Usually, reheating at 350 ºF/176 ºC with a lid or foil cover works well. Some cooked foods need extra seasoning after being reheated, and fresh herbs can help liven up leftovers.

Foods That Don’t Freeze Well

Cooked potatoes tend not to freeze well in any form, whether mashed, roasted, or in soups and stews. When reheated, cooked potatoes usually have a grainy or dry texture. (cooked sweet potatoes, however, usually freeze and reheat well.)

Frozen dairy products like milk, cream, sour cream and cheese tend to lose their smooth, creamy texture when reheated and can turn grainy and watery in recipes. Nut milks can also separate and become grainy when frozen. However, if reheated very gently over low heat and whisked vigorously, texture is less of a problem.

Coconut milk used in recipes generally reheats well, but again, do it over low heat.

Vinaigrettes, mayonnaise and mayonnaise-based sauces and salad dressings usually don’t freeze well.

10 Freezer-Friendly Meals

Sausage and Eggs to Go

Sausage and EggLet’s start with a long-time Primal favorite…. For breakfast, a healthy snack, or a quick lunch, you won’t find a recipe much better than these gems. Lots of flavor and a wallop of protein will keep you fully satisfied until you have time to sit down to a larger meal.

Freeze a bunch of these sausage and eggs on the go wrapped individually in foil and thrown into a freezer bag.

For the best texture when reheated, defrost overnight in the fridge first, then reheat briefly in the microwave.

Primal Pancakes

pancakes1For breakfast on busy weekday mornings, pull a pancake out of the freezer and pop it in the microwave. No need to defrost first! Pancakes can also be wrapped in foil and reheated in the oven.

To freeze, stack pancakes with parchment paper in between so they don’t stick together, and put a bunch in a freezer bag. Hint: these work well for kids’ lunches. What child will turn down a “breakfast” meal after all?

Slow Cooked Pork

CoconutGingerPork1A great strategy for freezer-friendly meals is simply freezing portions of cooked meat. The meat can be defrosted and used to make a variety of different meals.

Shredded pork is a great example. Cook a whole pork shoulder, cool and shred it, then freeze in smaller portions. The defrosted pork can be used in salads, tacos, stir-fries, or as the main course with steamed veggies on the side. Korean short ribs also freeze well and can be turned into a quick meal.

Green Goddess Chicken Breasts

Green-Goddess-Chix-2-612x443Cook a big sheet pan of Green Goddess chicken breasts, then shred the cooled meat and freeze.

Like shredded pork, shredded chicken can be stored in smaller portions and defrosted for a wide variety of quick meals (stir-fries, tacos, salads, soups and stews). Add additional Green Goddess for flavor if desired.

Chili & “Cornbread

lamb-chili-1Any type of chili freezes well, but this lamb chili is especially delicious. For a complete meal (and delicious pairing), freeze a loaf of  Primal cornbread, too.

When freezing the cornbread, wrap tightly in plastic wrap or parchment paper, then put in a freezer bag.

Moroccan Meatball and Egg Tagine

Tagine2-1All types of meatballs freeze well. Defrost overnight in the refrigerator, then pop meatballs into lunchboxes, or reheat meatballs for dinner in a sauce like this one.

For Moroccan Meatball and Egg Tagine, freeze the meatballs and sauce together, then reheat slowly on the stove with ¼ cup water. Don’t freeze the eggs and fresh herbs—add them once the sauce and meatballs are reheated.

Lamb and Prune Tagine

LambTagine2The complex flavors in this lamb and prune tagine are worth savoring over and over again, so make a double or triple batch to freeze.

Defrost overnight in the refrigerator then gently reheat on the stove or in the oven (350 ºF) with a lid. Add ¼ to ½ cup liquid as the tagine reheats.

Picadillo

Picadillo1

Picadillo is home cooked comfort food, the type of easy weeknight meal that both kids and adults love. Traditionally served over rice and beans (and sometimes, plantains) Primal Picadillo can be served over cauliflower rice or simply heaped in a bowl with nothing else. It’s also pretty great next to eggs for breakfast.

Picadillo is an easy recipe to double or triple. It reheats quickly on the stove or in the microwave.

Brisket

brisket1Brisket often tastes better when it’s been cooked and then reheated, so don’t worry about freezing this big piece of meat. Transfer a cooked and completely cooled brisket to a plastic freezer bag. Be extra diligent about squeezing out all the air out—getting out the air is really important to avoid freezer burn.

To defrost, put the cooked brisket in the fridge two days before you want to serve, then reheat, covered, in a 300 ºF degree oven.  The meat will probably need additional salt before serving.

Beef Rendang

Rendang-1-639x443Fragrant and richly flavored beef Rendang requires two ingredients you might have to search for—galangal and kaffir lime leaves. This dish is well worth the effort, but you can make it doubly so by cooking a big batch so you can freeze an extra meal or two.

Reheat defrosted Rendang on the stove in a pot with an extra ½ cup coconut milk.

And Now for Today’s Giveaway…

Keto_Advanced_1_600xToday to spur your healthy eating goals (not to mention kitchen inspiration), I’m giving away two sets of our Advanced Keto Kit. These are some of our most popular Primal Kitchen® products, and for pursuing a keto lifestyle, they’ll offer flavorful options that don’t undermine your eating objectives.

I’ll choose 2 random comments below as winners. Just tell me what recipes and cooking tips you’d like to see the Bees and I offer this year on Mark’s Daily Apple. Submit your comments by midnight tonight (1/4/18 PST).

Thanks for reading, everyone. Do you have further questions on freezing tips? Let us know!

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215 Comments on "10 Freezer-Friendly Meals (and a Giveaway)"

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Cate
Cate
1 month 18 days ago

I’d like lots of stew/chili combinations.

Lori Zawhorodny
1 month 18 days ago

I love the idea of cooking once and eating two or three times. Y’all do so well, it’s hard to make a suggestion but perhaps light and fresh ideas. Sometimes I feel like primal is a bit “heavy” Thanks!
Lori

Shary
Shary
1 month 18 days ago

I agree that Primal can be on the heavy side. I like to “lighten” it up with a side salad full of fresh ingredients. Fast and easy to throw together.

Kate
Kate
1 month 17 days ago

if you follow Fed &Fit she just started putting out “cook once, eat all week” content.

Elise
Elise
1 month 18 days ago

I’d like to see more hand-held breakfast items.

NaturalGirl
NaturalGirl
1 month 18 days ago

Me too. I am always on the go and love that idea. Awesome article Worker Bee.

Jillian A Tate
1 month 18 days ago

More dairy-free, family-size recipes would be awesome!

kte
kte
1 month 18 days ago

I too would like to see some more dairy-free recipes that make a large amount. And if they are keto-friendly, even better!

Catherine
Catherine
1 month 18 days ago

Beef stew with vegetables and chicken wings!

John
John
1 month 18 days ago

Got a pressure cooker for Festivus this year, so I’m hoping to see more pressure cooker (Instant Pot) recipes and tips.

Joe
Joe
1 month 18 days ago

I’d like to see some smoking recipes

savon frye
1 month 18 days ago

I am new to the keto world. I actually just joined a group based off of your books. We are starting the keto 21 on monday the 8th. I am very interested in your instant pot recipes. Well any recipes I guess. I am enjoying your emails and can’t wait to learn more and start this journey.

Anthony Munkholm
1 month 18 days ago

Hey Mark,

My fabulous wife got me a sous vide for a Christmas present this year and I would love a few Primal options to get started with. What is your favorite cut of meat to cook this way?

Also how about a few options for cooking burgers for the kids that do not involve the grill? Can you do them like a steak in the cast iron; sear first then transfer to oven?

Thanks,

Suzanne
Suzanne
1 month 18 days ago

A butcher in our family cooked the Christmas turkey breast in a sous vide, the dark meat in a crock pot. I can attest to the deliciousness of both cooking applications.

Matthew Paul Daniel
1 month 18 days ago

Quick and portable options!!

paleofam321
paleofam321
1 month 18 days ago

More keto snacks!

Kat Gryparis
1 month 18 days ago

Love the recipes, keep them coming! Now, for those of us doing a Keto Reset, can you also add nutritional info such as net carbs to recipes?

sosi
1 month 18 days ago

I’d like to see more sweet treats without nuts and eggs

Erin
1 month 18 days ago

I love this idea of freezer foods, as I often find myself grazing for something quick and easy – which can turn into my husband’s stash of crackers and breads (the struggle is real in my house). I’m making the sausage and eggs this weekend! Thanks!!!

2Rae
2Rae
1 month 17 days ago

You can do these with “mostly cooked” bacon. If you like sweet and savory you can cut up a date and sprinkle the little pieces in the bottom of the silicon cupcake pan, line the sides with the pliable bacon, drop in the egg, bake!!! Snap, you are ready for good breakfast or a bedtime snack…..

ran
ran
1 month 18 days ago

We freeze a lot of smoked meats: brisket, pulled pork, lamb, ribs, fish, chilis and soups. We allow the cooked foods to cool to room temperature and vacuum seal serving size portions in Foodsaver vacuum bags (with date labels) before freezing.

To thaw we boil water on the stove top with and put the frozen bags in the water. It takes 10-15 minutes for the frozen food from the freezer to come to serving temperature. Tastes as good as fresh!

Beth
Beth
1 month 17 days ago

I second the FoodSaver. I’ve vacuum packed meat and meals for many years (I’m on my 3rd, that’s how much I use it). If you vacuum pack, no worries on freezer burn, you can size portions to individual or family size. Best of all, I’ve frozen items for at least a year, if not longer, and no changes to taste/texture.

Lynn
Lynn
1 month 18 days ago

I’d like to see more recipes with the much cheaper ground meat.

Jean
Jean
1 month 18 days ago

I’d like to see more freezer friendly soups and stews that are not so boring! There are so many recipes that have the same ingredients (carrots, beef, etc). Thank you for all you do!

Shary
Shary
1 month 18 days ago
Oh my goodness, Jean, there is infinite variety to be had with soups and stews! All you need to do is vary the ingredients. Almost anything in the produce aisle can be made into a soup or a stew–asparagus, string beans, cabbage, spinach, kale, sweet potatoes, squash, beets (either red or yellow)–you name it. The same is true of the meat/poultry. If you like seafood, try a tomato-based cioppino with a variety of fish, shrimp, etc. (There are plenty of recipes online.) You can easily replace the potatoes in any recipe with diced turnips and parsnips stand in well for… Read more »
Angie
Angie
1 month 18 days ago

I’d love to see some adaptations of various ethnic recipes through a more primal lens — maybe some Indian flavors. I’m also curious about the best types of knives for different purposes — can you get away with just a chef’s knife for almost everything or does it make a difference if you have knives suited to each task?

Chris
Chris
1 month 18 days ago

I have a smoker I don’t use as often as I’d like. Maybe some smoker recipes for brisket, wings, pulled pork, ribs, etc.

Casey
Casey
1 month 18 days ago

Vegan Keto options would be great!

Brendan
Brendan
1 month 18 days ago

Would love to see more quick keto/primal dessert recipes – especially frozen treats. In particular, as a mac-nut FANATIC who cannot really pay the the exorbitant price for them very often, would love to see any dessert or other recipes that use another low-carb nut like pecans

Mary
Mary
1 month 18 days ago

I need some new ideas for primal to-go lunches!

Joe
1 month 18 days ago

As an outdoor enthusiast, I’d love to see recipes designed around wild fish and game. I’m always looking for twists to get my little Groks to take down duck, dove and venison heart & liver! Love me some venison heart tacos

Peter
Peter
1 month 18 days ago

Definitely gonna try the brisket! Thanks!

Nancy
1 month 18 days ago

Less meat-based but still protein-rich ideas!

CoachJim
CoachJim
1 month 18 days ago

Would love more breakfast items, especially casseroles that are make ahead and more instant pot tips and tricks, feel like I learn something new every time I use it but want more.

Hannah
Hannah
1 month 18 days ago

I would love to see recipes for sardines. I know they are great. I can eat a can of of the marinade sardines, but my kids refuse. I would like them to eat it too if I had an appealing recipe to try out.

Mike S
Mike S
1 month 18 days ago

During this time of year I do a lot of crock pot recipes, so your favorite crock pot recipes. Also, I have a sweet tooth, so some desserts that are healthy would be nice..

Becky
1 month 18 days ago

I like to make a double batch of soups and freeze half.

Hannah Lamm
Hannah Lamm
1 month 18 days ago

I tend not to freeze extras as much as I would like to because I hate the mountain of trash it creates. Between freezer bags and squares of parchment, it’s almost as bad as prepared food from the store. I’d love some more tips for avoiding the excess waste. Pyrex bowls are a start, obviously, but what can I do to avoid foil and parchment for egg muffins, pancakes, etc.?

As a mother of four, I really need to get better at this!

ramsmom
ramsmom
1 month 18 days ago

Wash the freezer bags! Works great. I’ve reused at least 3 times.

2Rae
2Rae
1 month 17 days ago

I use the plastic tubs with lids that you wash. If your food is cool and isn’t cooked in the plastic it works great. About 5 muffin eggs fit in the ones I get. I bet some wax paper squares would do well for the pancakes to stack in one of them as well. You could just save the wax paper and reuse if you want.
For soups I have little canning jars with lids, there’s pints and smaller if you want a smaller portion, again reuse after washing.
Hope that helps.

K G
K G
1 month 18 days ago

I personally would love some slow cooker recipes

michele
michele
1 month 18 days ago

I’d like to see more breakfast recipes and snack ideas. Thanks!

K G
K G
1 month 18 days ago

Would love some slow cooker recipes

Mark Sisson
1 month 18 days ago

KG, you’ll like the recipe this Saturday. Check back!

Bethany
Bethany
1 month 18 days ago

I’d love to see more creative, hearty/main-dish salads. I’m always looking for new recipes!

Mike S
Mike S
1 month 18 days ago

I just got a dutch oven for cooking on my wood stove. Dutch oven recipes (besides chili, mine is pretty amazing) would be awesome!

Suzanne
Suzanne
1 month 18 days ago

I would like to see more keto geared to those of us with type 1 diabetes and celiac disease. Quick and easy grab ‘n go meals and tips on using a pressure cooker. Thanks Mark and Happy New Year!

Alex
Alex
1 month 18 days ago

I’d love to see more Middle Eastern or Greek cuisine.

JPree
JPree
1 month 18 days ago

I usually make big pots of soups/stews for work lunch to use through the week, but I’m always looking for recipes (including soup recipes) that are a little lighter and cooler for summer lunches! Bonus points if they are budget friendly!

Rachel
Rachel
1 month 18 days ago

I would love to see more crockpot recipes; I’m in need of things I can prep for on the weekend, put in the crockpot in the morning, and come home to after a busy evening. And huge bonus if those recipes can be made in larger batches and frozen. Thanks for all you do!

Brad
Brad
1 month 18 days ago

My wife is pescatarian. I’d like to see more seafood recipes or maybe some vegetarian recipes that aren’t loaded with soy or grains.

Marty
Marty
1 month 18 days ago

More recipes with low prep time.

I like these freezer friendly meals as well. Spending a lot time in the kitchen after going primal.

Nocona
Nocona
1 month 18 days ago

More recipes using OFFAL, please. Keep up the great work.

Brandon
Brandon
1 month 18 days ago

All of your recipes are usually amazing, but they tend to be on the more complicated side. Of course, with that they have complex and amazing flavors, but I’d love to see more simple recipes. Things that can be done quickly on a weeknight.

Thanks!

Laura
Laura
1 month 18 days ago

Thanks for the giveaway opportunity! I would love to see more recipes for one or two people. I don’t have kids and don’t always have room in my freezer for the leftovers that inevitably come from recipes meant for multiple people.

Todd
Todd
1 month 18 days ago

Love it, Mark! Thanks as always for the generous posts. Can’t wait to freeze some chili:D

Krissy
Krissy
1 month 18 days ago

I love the recipes I find here, but my biggest struggle is getting my kiddos to try them (2 and 5 yrs old) they’re very suspicious of anything they haven’t seen before, I’d love to see more tips on living primal (and awesome!) with small children, thanks!

Pcskier
Pcskier
1 month 18 days ago

I’ve got grass-fed beef that’s been frozen for 6 1/2 years…still as good as when I got it. The key is being sure it’s well wrapped and protected.

Yoojin
Yoojin
1 month 18 days ago

I would love to see more unique cuts of meat recipes! Organ meat, pig trotters, etc!

JoAnne Isgro
1 month 18 days ago

I’d love to try your salad dressings.

GreekGrok
GreekGrok
1 month 18 days ago

More Keto recipes! Eating the same thing over and over gets boring

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