Clean Out Your Freezer Meals

  in Blog

If you’re like most families, your freezer is packed with odds and ends of twist-tied bags of frozen veggies, half empty boxes and bags of various foods, chicken breasts, and containers of leftovers, maybe labeled and dated but probably not. Maybe you paw through the pile on ocassion and discover items you completely forgot and are too freezer burned to eat now. Why not endeavor to spend a few minutes cataloging the contents of your freezer and planning some meals to use up the forgotten but still decent items. Everyone’s freezer contents will be different but here are some ideas/recipes for trimming what’s in there and making something delicious to boot.

Freezer Vegetable Rice Soup

Adjust the amounts in this recipe to suit how many frozen vegetables you want to use up. 

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1-2 stalks celery
1 bay leaf
4 cups veggies from your freezer such as peas, corn, broccoli, peppers, lima beans, mixed veggies, etc.
1/2 cup white basmati rice
4 cups vegetable broth
1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon Italian herbs
sea salt and black pepper to taste

  1. Heat oil in a large stockpot over medium heat. Add onions , celery, and bay leaf; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until onions are translucent, 5 to 8 minutes. 
  2. Add broth, tomatoes and their juice, and rice and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, and cook, covered, 15  minutes. 
  3. Add vegetables to pot, and return to a simmer. Cook, uncovered, until vegetables are tender, another 15 minutes. Remove bay leaf and season with salt and pepper.

Pantry Bean Soup

Use up whatever beans you have in your pantry. You can cut this recipe in half if you only have 2 or 3 cans of beans to use up.

2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 large onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 large carrot, sliced
1 large potato, diced
½ cup pearl barley
1 bay leaf
6 cups vegetable broth
1 15 oz. can pinto beans, rinsed
1 15 oz. can  black beans, rinsed
1 15 oz. can  kidney beans, rinsed
1 15 oz. can navy or cannellini beans, rinsed
1 15 oz. can aduki or red beans, rinsed
1 cup corn, fresh or frozen
1 15 oz can tomato sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
black pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
Optional: chopped parsley for garnish

  1. Heat oil in a large soup pot over medium heat and sauté the garlic and onion until onion is translucent. Add broth, celery, carrot, potato, bay leaf, and barley. Cover, bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 30 minutes. 
  2. Add the beans, corn, tomato sauce, soy sauce, black pepper, and herbs. Return to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes. Taste and add more soy sauce or salt if needed. Serve sprinkled with fresh parsley.

Fruit Crisp

5 cups mixed frozen berries such as blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, cherries, etc.
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon arrowroot or cornstarch
1 tablespoon lemon juice
½ cup rolled oats
½ cup packed brown sugar
½ cup all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon ground ginger, cinnamon, or nutmeg, or combination
pinch sea salt
5 tablespoons butter, cut into small cubes
1 tablespoon cold water

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Stir the arrowroot and lemon juice together in a small bowl until smooth and add to the bowl of fruit along with the sugar. Toss to coat. Place fruit in a 9 inch square or round baking pan.
  2. For the topping, add oats, brown sugar, flour, cinnamon or ginger, sea salt, and butter to the bowl of a food processor and pulse until blended.  Add the cold water and pulse until it starts to clump. Or to do it by hand using a fork, cut butter into the oats, brown sugar, flour, and ginger or cinnamon until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in water until it gets clumpy. Sprinkle topping evenly over fruit.
  3. Bake for 35 minutes or until fruit is tender and topping is golden. Serve warm or at room temperature with ice cream if desired.

Shepherd’s Pie

2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup half and half
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 3/4 pounds frozen ground beef, thawed 
1 onion, chopped
2 cups frozen veggies such as peas, mixed veggies (peas, carrots, corn) or any frozen veggie
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup beef broth
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Boil potatoes in salted water until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain potatoes and place in a bowl along with the butter, half and half, salt and pepper. Mash until mostly smooth. A few lumps are ok.
  2. While potatoes cook, heat the oil in a large heavy skillet over medium high heat. Add the beef and onions. Season  with salt and pepper. Brown and break up the meat for 5 minutes. Add the frozen veggies and continue cooking another 5 minutes or so. In a second small saucepan over medium heat, cook the butter and flour together for 2 minutes. Whisk in the broth and Worcestershire sauce and cook for 1 minute. Add gravy to meat and vegetables.
  3. Grease a casserole dish and fill with meat and vegetable mixture. Spread the potatoes evenly over the meat. Sprinkle potatoes with paprika and bake for 30 minutes.

Broccoli Spinach Pasta Bake

12 oz macaroni, farfalle, bowtie pasta (or any pasta you have on hand)
1 pound frozen broccoli, thawed
1 9-oz box frozen spinach, thawed, excess water squeezed out
1 medium yellow onion, diced small
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 teaspoon dried dill
1/2 pound cheddar cheese, grated
3 eggs
1 cup cottage cheese 
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
sea salt and black pepper to taste

  1. Heat the oven to 375°F and grease a 9×13-inch pan.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to boil and add 1 teaspoon of salt. Add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain and return to the pot.
  3. Steam or boil the broccoli until tender. Drain and chop.
  4. Saute the onion in the olive oil over medium heat for about 3 minutes to soften. Add the garlic and saute for another minute. 
  5. Toss the broccoli, spinach, onion mixture and dill with the cooked pasta. 
  6. Mix the eggs with the cottage cheese and mozzarella. Stir this into the pasta mixture along with salt and pepper.
  7. Pour the pasta in the prepared pan and sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese.
  8. Bake for 35 minutes. Let sit for 5 minutes before serving.