Today’s blog was written by the clever team at One Handed Cooks (a personal fave of the mums and dads here at Stuck On You). Their website features a huge range of simple, healthy and clever freezer-friendly recipes for babies, toddlers and families.
The daily routine of going ‘Back To School’ can be overwhelming, especially if you’re still in holiday mode or your little one is starting school this year. Taking some time to fill your freezer with a few nutritious family meals in the days leading up to school starting back will save your sanity in more ways than one. Freezer friendly recipes are key to being more organised. You won’t have to think about what’s for dinner and can enjoy more time with your children listening to their stories of their first days of the new school year.
Here are 5 freezer-friendly recipes for meals you can cook, freeze and enjoy with the family:
One-Handed Cooks Freezer-Friendly Recipes
Freezer-Friendly Recipes: Sausage, spinach and ricotta pasta bake
If you have a family full of hungry, growing children then this recipe is for you. It’s perfect for refuelling their energy levels after an active day of learning and playing. Plus tired kids will love seeing a meal with familiar ingredients such as pasta, tomato-based sauce and sausages.
Prep time: 25 minutes
Cook time: 35 minutes
Ready in: 1 hour
- 500g pasta e.g. penne, spiral, shell, rigatoni, farfalle
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 500g good quality beef, lamb or pork sausages
- 1 brown onion, finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
- 2 x 400g tins no added salt chopped tomatoes
- 150g baby spinach leaves
- pepper, to taste
- 250g ricotta
- ½ cup finely grated parmesan
- 2 cups grated tasty cheese
- Preheat the oven to 180℃.
- Cook the pasta according to packet directions, drain and set aside.
- While the pasta is cooking, heat half the oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat, remove the sausage meat from their casings and add to the frying pan, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon as it cooks. Once browned, remove from the frying pan and drain on a paper towel.
- Carefully wipe the pan clean with a paper towel, add the remaining oil and heat over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring for 2-3 minutes or until soft. Add the canned tomatoes, return the sausage meat to the pan and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Add the baby spinach leaves and stir until the leaves have wilted. Season with salt and pepper and remove from the heat.
- Place the ricotta, half the parmesan and ½ cup of tasty cheese in a large bowl and mix to combine.
- Combine the pasta and ricotta mixture and stir to combine. Add the sausage and spinach mixture and stir until well combined.
- Pour the pasta into an 8-cup capacity baking dish, top with the remaining cheese and bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes or until golden.
Storage: leftovers can be stored in the fridge for 1-2 days or in the freezer for 1-2 months. The pasta bake can be stored in the freezer prior to placing in the oven for up to 2 months. Simply defrost in the fridge overnight before baking.
Freezer-Friendly Recipes: Easy chicken balls
These tasty little chicken balls are a winner dinner for when the kids are tired and want something quick and easy to eat. They’re full of flavour and the high in protein to help satisfy their appetites. Have them ready to go in the freezer, serve a side of veggies and any leftovers can be enjoyed in lunchboxes the next day.
- 500g chicken mince
- 1 egg
- ½ cup baby spinach, finely chopped
- 1 carrot, finely grated
- 1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
- ¼ cup finely grated parmesan
- ¼ cup breadcrumbs
- olive oil to fry
- Combine the chicken mince, egg, baby spinach, carrot, lemon zest, parmesan and enough breadcrumbs to bring the mixture together in a large bowl and mix to combine.
- Roll tablespoons of the mixture into small balls.
- Heat a large frying pan over medium heat, add a little oil and cook the chicken balls in batches for 4-5 minutes, turning regularly until golden brown and cooked through. Alternatively, drizzle with a little olive oil, place on a baking tray and bake in an oven preheated to 180℃ for 12-15 minutes or until cooked through.
Storage: store cooked chicken balls in the fridge for 1-2 days or in the freezer for 1-2 months. Uncooked chicken balls can be frozen for up to 2 months, simply defrost in the fridge overnight and pan fry or bake in the oven.
Freezer-Friendly Recipes: Beef and lentil bolognese
A family favourite, this iron-rich meal will provide your kids with long-lasting energy to help them power through the school days. It’s boosted with simple, cheap ingredients such as tinned lentils and seasonal vegetables, to maximise both nutrition and flavour. We recommend you double the recipe and freeze in individual portions to allow you a few freezer meals.
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Ready in: 40 minutes
- 300g dried whole grain pasta
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 brown onion, finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 500g premium beef mince
- 1 cup swiss brown mushrooms, chopped
- 1 carrot, finely chopped or grated
- 1 zucchini, finely chopped or grated
- 2 tbsp no added salt tomato paste
- 400g tin no added salt chopped tomatoes
- ¾ cup no added salt beef or vegetable stock
- 1 cup tinned brown lentils, rinsed and drained
- ¼ cup chopped parsley
- grated parmesan cheese, to serve
- Cook the spaghetti according to packet instructions or until al dente.
- While the pasta is cooking, heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat and saute the onion and garlic until fragrant. Add the mushrooms and cook for a further 2-3 minutes or until the onion and mushrooms are soft.
- Add the beef and brown all over, separating the mince with a wooden spoon as it cooks. Add the grated vegetables and cook for 2-3 minutes.
- Add the tomato paste, chopped tomatoes and stock. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for around 15 minutes or until the liquid has reduced.
- Add the lentils and parsley and cook for a further 5 minutes.
- Serve with the pasta and parmesan cheese.
Storage: keep leftover bolognese sauce in the fridge for 1-2 days or in the freezer for 1-2 months.
Freezer-Friendly Recipes: Spanakopita
A satisfying vegetarian meal, this Greek-inspired pie freezes beautifully, making it a perfect freezer-friendly recipe. It’s easily adapted to suit the whole family – use parsley instead of dill, or try making a few little filo triangles with the filling for the preschoolers and young primary school kids to enjoy as finger food. It may help to encourage acceptance of this delicious meal.
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 45-60 minutes
Ready in: 1 hour 30 minutes
- 200g feta
- 100g ricotta
- 4 eggs
- 2-3 sprigs of dill, finely chopped
- 4 shallots, finely sliced
- 2 bunches of English spinach, trimmed, leaves washed, dried and roughly chopped
- 2 tbsp breadcrumbs
- 375g packet filo pastry
- ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil or 100g unsalted butter
- Preheat the oven to 180℃ and lightly grease a 20cm x 30cm x 5cm baking dish.
- Place the feta and ricotta in a large bowl and roughly mash with a fork. Whisk in the eggs, then add the dill, shallots, spinach and breadcrumbs.
- Line the baking dish with a sheet of filo and brush it with the butter or oil. Top with another sheet of filo brushed with butter or oil and continue until about half the filo is used. (Tip: keep the filo sheets covered with a dry tea towel and then a damp tea towel to prevent them from drying out.)
- Spread the spinach mixture evenly over the filo. Layer with the remaining sheets of filo brushed with oil or butter, ensuring the final sheet is well oiled. Trim the overhanging pastry and roll in at the sides.
- Lightly score the pastry with a sharp knife into diamonds, piercing the pastry once or twice to allow air to escape during baking.
- Sprinkle lightly with water and bake in the oven for 45-60 minutes or until well browned, covering with foil if it is over-browning.
Storage: leftover spanakopita can be stored in the fridge for 2-3 days or prepared in advance and stored in the freezer for 2-3 months prior to baking.
Freezer Friendly Recipes: Crumbed tuna and vegetable patties
Fast and tasty these little patties are packed full of nutritious goodness and perfect for when kids are ready for an early meal after coming home from some school hungry and exhausted. So versatile, you can make them with or without the tuna, melt cheese on top or eat them hot or cold, these are essential in the freezer-friendly recipes repertoire
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Ready in: 30 minutes
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- ½ brown onion, finely chopped
- 1 cup peeled and diced sweet potato
- 1 cup peeled and diced potato
- 1 carrot, grated
- ⅓ cup frozen peas
- ⅓ cup fresh corn kernels
- 1 small tin tuna, drained (or salmon)
- 1 egg
- 1 cup multigrain bread crumbs
- 3 tbsp quinoa flakes (optional)
- 1 handful of chopped herbs e.g. parsley, chives, coriander, basil
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- Steam or boil the sweet potato, peas and corn until soft. Use a fork to roughly mash the mixture together and set aside.
- In a small fry pan heat 1 tsp olive oil. Add the onion and carrot, lightly fry until soft then set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine the tuna, onion, vegetable mash and egg and stir to combine. If your mixture is too runny you can add some breadcrumbs to thicken.
- Take large tablespoons full of mixture into small patties and place in the fridge for an hour before you begin cooking if you have time.
- Combine the multigrain bread crumbs, quinoa and herbs in a small bowl and mix to combine. Place the eggs in another small bowl.
- Next, dip each patty in the egg and then coat in the breadcrumbs. Continue with the remaining patties.
- Heat the remaining oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Lightly fry the patties for a few minutes on each side until golden. Remove and drain on a paper towel.
Storage: store cooked tuna and vegetable patties in the fridge for 1-2 days or in the freezer for 1-2 months. Uncooked patties can be frozen for up to 2 months, simply defrost in the fridge overnight and pan fry.
About the author: One-Handed Cooks is a baby, toddler and family food website that features a wide range of simple, healthy and clever recipes to help make food a source of enjoyment and nourishment for their children. Written in conjunction with an Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD), it also offers friendly and realistic nutrition information, as well as tips managing fussy eating behaviours. In 2016, the self-titled One Handed Cooks cookbook was launched and it has since become an Australian leader in the area of baby, toddler and family food. Join the friendly and engaging One Handed Cooks community on Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest and say ‘Hello’ and check out their website for more freezer friendly recipes!
What are your ”go to” freezer-friendly recipes? Let us know in the comments!