Prep-Freeze-Cook(ish), Part 1: Putting a Meal Together from Your Freezer

In our household, no one likes to cook during the week. I envy those people who say that cooking dinner helps them relax – executing a meal on a Tuesday night is right up there for me with being tied to my couch and forced to binge-watch The Lawrence Welk Show.

So in order to avoid a Weekday Jennifer Meltdown, we (and we is mostly me unless it’s grilling season) do as much batch cooking on the weekends as possible with the plan to get lunches and dinners for two through Thursday. In short, we live for leftovers – prized in our household for thrift, convenience, and the chance to eat more of what you enjoyed a night or two ago.

I’ve also learned to help myself out by stocking the freezer with meal “parts” in the same way you stock a pantry: items that you can pull out, thaw, pair with fresh items (or other leftovers), and get on with your evening.

A great, cheap, nutritious staple to have in the freezer is brown rice. I freeze large batches of brown rice so that I can make Bhudda bowls, a stir fry, or a quick pilaf, and rice is a great supporting character when you’ve got fresh vegetables to use.

The most ingenious way to make brown rice – ready for this? – is in your oven. Alton Brown’s strategy is one that can easily be doubled or tripled and frozen in small batches. (My go-to freezer storage is an old school deli container. For years I hoarded/obsessively guarded a collection of containers from Thai and Chinese takeout until it dawned on me that you can buy anything on the interwebs.) I store 32-ounce containers of rice and take them out a day or two ahead of when I’ll need to use them – or in a pinch, you can certainly defrost in the microwave.

Along with fresh vegetables, I also try to keep things like edamame beans, peas and other frozen veggies around for stir fry.

We’ve got an entire season of fresh veggies just begging to make friends with brown rice, so here are some options to check out to help you avoid Weekday Meal Meltdown:

Spring Green Stir Fry: Fried Rice with Collards (any green leafy will work here)

Mid-Summer Buddha Bowls: Oh She Glows Summer Bhudda Bowls, One Green Planet Veggie Bowls,

Almost Anytime Bowl: Sweet Potato Chick Pea Buddha Bowl

 

Enjoy!

— J.S.

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