The Plan to Eat Podcast

#60: A Surprising Twist on Summer Food

July 05, 2023 Plan to Eat Season 1 Episode 60
The Plan to Eat Podcast
#60: A Surprising Twist on Summer Food
Show Notes Transcript

Join us this week for a new take on summer food - using the freezer! While it's not often thought of as a tool for summertime food, we make a case for freezer meals to help on busy summer nights or when you don't want to do much cooking. We talk about what freezes well, how we decide if a recipe can be frozen, and give a full list of freezer meals for you to try!
We are also saying goodbye to Riley in this episode, so don't miss her announcement at the end. 

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Find the recipes from this episode:
African Beef Stew
Cream Cheese Taquitos

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I'm Riley and I'm Roni. And this is the plan to eat podcast, where we have conversations about meal planning, food, and wellness. To help you answer the question what's for dinner.

Roni: Hello everyone. Thank you for joining us today on the plan to Eat podcast. Today, Riley and I are going to talk about a surprising twist on summer food.

Riley: We're gonna talk about. Utilizing your freezer in the summertime, which I feel like is not something that people normally think of. Um, because a lot of what you think of when we're discussing freezer meals is like soups and warm comforting food that you normally eat in winter months. But we think that summer is a great time to utilize your freezer.

let's jump in with benefits of freezer meals, because in the summertime, cooking is not the first thing on my mind, right? It's hiking, it's being outside. It's, um, swimming pools and water [00:01:00] parks and paddle boarding. It's not, I'm not thinking like, oh, I've gotta cook dinner for all these folks every night.

Um, so using fri freezing meals can really help you, uh, on busy summer nights. When you don't really wanna cook, or maybe you forgot that you needed to cook dinner because that's happened to me.

Roni: Oh man. Well, you know, recently with the, you know, when the sun is out so much later, there are often times when it's like seven or seven 30 and I'm like, oh, wait, I haven't started dinner yet. Oops.

Riley: Yeah. We're gonna list some stuff in a minute, but having some things that are just easy to defrost, um, easy sides or easy main things that you can kind of turn into a meal, uh, can really make those summer nights, those meals come together faster because you've had, you have some things in the freezer.

Or also just like maybe you planned it. Okay. I got a 15 minute dinner meal and half of it's in the freezer already, so you aren't having to fuss about in the kitchen when it's hot outside. You need to heat up your kitchen. Something like that, just can be a little bit faster.

Roni: Yeah, I think the, [00:02:00] another benefit is this idea of maybe not having to heat up your kitchens quite so much. Now, certainly there are some freezer meals. You might still have to put 'em in the oven to warm 'em up, like a casserole or something like that. But I think there's a lot of things that you could potentially just heat up in, like a skillet or a pot on the stove you could put in like a toaster oven.

I found these little, um, English muffin type sandwiches online that actually like heat up really well in either like a toaster oven and like a panini press. So, you know, there's that aspect of it too, that, you know, in the summertime we often talk about, uh, Having no cook meals, you know, that just come together without having to heat up your kitchen at all.

But there could be this stuff that's maybe like low cook meals that you maybe don't require very much in order to heat them up. Cuz I'm still thinking if you're making a casserole, like a lot of times you still have to do a. You know, like you, maybe you have to like, cook the meat or, you know, like make a sauce or something like that.

And those things, it's like multiple aspects of heating something up. Like you're heating it up on the stove and then you're putting it in the [00:03:00] oven. And so even if it's still put, just putting it in the oven, um, it's a little less than, you know, doing the whole process at one time.

Riley: Totally. I, I have a list of top tools that I think would really help, like not heat up the kitchen. Uh, and that is the air fryer

Roni: Mm,

Riley: amazing. It does not heat up my kitchen at all, so I know that's gonna be something that I'm using a lot this summer. A crock pot. While it is warm and it's getting your food hot or cooking your food, I, I just feel like it doesn't like heat up my kitchen like a 350 degree oven does.

And then like a grill or a smoker, uh, and those, like, I could probably use that all summer and never even touch my oven 

Roni: Oh yeah. 

Riley: And I have a lot of ideas around how to utilize those tools. But, um, that goes really into this tip of like, this benefit of just like, you don't have to heat up your kitchen with those kinds of tools.

But a panini press or a toaster, like those are great ideas too. And then you're doing even less like work on your stove, you know?

Roni: Yeah, I [00:04:00] think it was last year you talked about your pizza on the grill idea. And so even something like that, like, okay, so you prep the dough ahead of time, it's in the freezer, you take it out, you get your pizza. Ready and you put it on the grill or the smoker, instead of putting it in the oven, like wham bam.

And you didn't even heat up your oven.

Riley: Exactly. Some ideas around this just while we're on this train, is marinating chicken and then freezing it in the marinade. Or having a marinade and chicken like separately in your freezer or some, you know, that could be a steak, it could be pork loin, it could be shrimp, it could be whatever. You have all these pre-made marinades in your freezer.

You pull one out thought, pull your protein out and thaw it. Or veggies, like for a kebab, you just throw 'em in the pre-made marinade and then put 'em on the smoker. You're not doing anything in your kitchen, anything to heat up your kitchen. But that to me is a really big deal. And then you can cook outside and eat outside, which is my favorite.

Roni: I know mine too.

Riley: Mm-hmm.

Roni: Uh, should we, okay. Should we move on to, we're already talking a little bit about some [00:05:00] tips for freezer. Should we just talk about some more tips? Because I have one that's related to that. Marinade one. Um. I mean, because you can also brine your meat beforehand. So, um, you don't necessarily wanna freeze it in the b brining solution, but you could brine your meat for however you long to, like, to brine your meat for whether it's a full day or six hours or whatever.

And then, you know, take it out probably best to like pat it dry before you put it in a bag and put it in the freezer. Um, so it doesn't get as much freezer burn. But that was something that I actually, I read that online when I was, uh, researching for this episode and I thought that was such a great idea because.

Another way of just saving time the day of. Is that okay? Well, particularly if you really like, you know, like if you want, I like to brine either like both pork and chicken and so it's like if that's something that's really important to you for the flavor of your meat, well then just do it ahead of time and it's like not a big deal.

Particularly if you're like doing it all at one time. Like, okay, I'm already brining chicken for tonight's dinner. Let's just brine five more pounds of chicken and then freeze the rest of it and then I don't have to do it [00:06:00] later.

Riley: Yeah. Well, I mean the same idea applies to making a marinade. It, it's like when you're doing all that work, For one meal. To do it for another one in that moment is not hard. Like if I take a bag and I put all my ingredients in for a marinade to cook something for that night's dinner, to duplicate that marinade in another bag and then just roll it up and stick it in my freezer, pretty minimal effort and saves a lot of time later when I go to get it out and then stick something in it to marinade to cook on the grill or something like that.

Um, so if you can do that work at the same time, Your future self. Thank you. Which is something we always say. But I mean, it's a, I love that. I, I love saving myself time in the future.

Roni: Yeah, I love it. 

So another freezer tip is that fat freezes really well.

Yeah, so if you have something that's like a bisque, so it's, you know, it's like, um, a vegetable that is kinda like a pureed and that's the base of the soup. Adding some heavy cream to that or adding maybe like some olive oil if you don't even have dairy. The fat actually really helps the, whatever the chemical [00:07:00] process is related to the molecules of the fat, they actually freeze a lot better if you have fat added to that versus, just having it be like a water base.

Um, But dairy by itself doesn't really freeze very well. So if you're gonna freeze dairy by itself, it's better to then use that dairy in, a different recipe. So like you can freeze things like cream cheese, but then when you thaw that cream cheese, it's better if it's not like cream cheese for your bagels and more like cream cheese to go in like a casserole or something like that.

you can also freeze things like heavy cream. Um, but once again, when you go to use that, it shouldn't be like, I'm gonna use this heavy cream in my milk, or No, I'm gonna use this heavy cream in my coffee. It should be more like, I'm gonna use this heavy cream in that soup that I made, or something like that.

Exactly to cook with. And then most of the time, frozen vegetables are better if you cook them after they're frozen. So like chopping and preparing things, um, like onions, peppers, cauliflower, things like that. Preparing them and freezing them while they're [00:08:00] fresh. And then using them as cooked vegetables after the fact.

You'll notice that if you freeze something like a bell pepper, and then you take it out, it's gonna be more like mushy. If you were just like, that wouldn't be something you'd put on a veggie platter. That's something you're gonna wanna use in a, like fajitas or something. Or maybe like it's smoothies and you, you know, freeze your kale or your spinach or something that's not gonna then make a good spinach salad.

It's gonna be something that you wanna, and it's all just about the way that the water molecules freeze and then when they, they burst or whatever, in the freezer. So

that's the underlying reason. Mm-hmm.

Riley: Yeah, we've talked about this before, and freezing like the water content, like just freezing a cherry tomato. It's gonna be weird. Um, but if you turn it into a tomato, Baal soup or tomato, Baal bisque or something with some heavy cream and freeze that, that freezes grape, um, which really, like, there's so much stuff from your garden, you can take and freeze, berries, uh, or if you cook 'em and then freeze 'em, or like sweet potatoes or potatoes, like those cubed and frozen, pull 'em out and [00:09:00] then cook 'em.

Um, But just like, just thinking about it in a different way instead of like, oh, I've gotta cook all these vegetables, all these vegetables that I have. But you don't have to. You could just chop 'em and freeze 'em. I think it's a really helpful freezer tip just to get your, we talk about this a lot, but just the mindset of, I don't have to cook this right now.

I could save it in my freezer by preparing it in a certain way.

Roni: Yeah, and I mean, this could be a really great way to eliminate or reduce your food waste. You know, if you have that half ahead of cauliflower that's been sitting in your refrigerator for the last two days, because the recipe that you called for only needed half of it, you might as well just chop it up and put it in your freezer instead of letting it.

rot, and then you throw it away, um, you know, that's gonna save you money in the long run. It's gonna eliminate it from going in the landfill. So even, I think just thinking ahead like that and just realizing like, okay, like it's, I don't know exactly what I'm gonna use this for in the future, but I can figure it out when the time comes.

Riley: Yeah, absolutely. And I think also like if you're using, if you're getting a [00:10:00] CSA or something and you end up with vegetables that you. Maybe you didn't know what to do with, or you, meal planned around them and didn't utilize them or something like that. It's a great way to, if you don't have a garden, but you're getting a CSA box, some way to use them, you know, use things that you didn't be bought but didn't wanna, don't wanna throw away.

It's just, I mean, it's more food reducing food waste, but just, I thought of people who use CSAs because if I got a C S A I, they just, there's some weeks you just don't use all the vegetables you buy. Um, so it's a good way to utilize that.

Roni: Yeah. And I know that you've mentioned this previously on the podcast before, but if you have a dish that has noodles, uh, freeze the noodles separately. So if you have, uh, some sort of like a pasta dish or something that has noodles, the best thing to do is you undercook your noodles. So you basically just kind of like blanch your noodles.

Um, cook 'em for like, About half the time as they would normally cook for, because you have to real, you have to remember that when you heat them back up, they're gonna con, they're gonna then finish cooking when you heat them back up, when they come out of the freezer. But also then [00:11:00] freezing them separately from the rest of the dish so that way it doesn't create this like weird soggy mess.

Riley: kind of a, like a lasagna. Sometimes we'll have a little bit of water content in it that you didn't free, you like it wasn't there when you put it in the freezer, but then when you thaw it out, there it is there. So that idea of kinda like doing something separately, I mean, you can't do that with a lasagna, but with some dishes you could.

Roni: Yeah. I've seen lasagna recipes where you just don't even do anything with the noodles before you put it in the freezer, which is probably the best way to keep the noodles from getting all funky.

Riley: Yeah, people, may, you know, think that the no bake or the No Cook, I think they're called No Cook Lasagna noodles or something like that. People might have different opinions on the flavor and taste of those, but that is a way that you could really do something amazing.

Like just like put it on there. It's like not even cooked and you don't even do the extra work of cooking. You just get to lay those things, those sheets flat out in your pan and it would work really well. Uh, another thing I know I've talked about on the podcast before is, um, the idea of meal makers, to like things that you have on hand to like create meals.[00:12:00] 

And I think that that's where we're really leaning into freezer, the freezer for the summer. So like, when you were just talking about noodles, I'm thinking like freezing meatballs or, uh, freezing. Like, if you make a bunch of hamburgers and you portion them out, you could freeze all those raw and then just thaw 'em and put 'em on the grill.

And if you, if you're somebody who like mixed a lot of things into your burger, um, you could just have 'em and pull 'em out and then they're ready to go. Um, marinating pork, cubing chicken and putting it in something for like kebabs. You may not wanna freeze all the vegetables for a kebab, but you can pull out that pre cubed chicken and then you've got your veggies from your garden or from your farmer's market.

And then I actually think that like freezing side dishes, Is also another really helpful thing for the summer. Cuz rice and quinoa free super. Well, I know we've talked about that. Corn free su freezes really well. Beans, mashed potatoes, a corn casserole, cheesy potatoes, broccoli casserole are just broccoli, green beans, collard greens, [00:13:00] sweet potatoes, all these things free super well.

And if they're like partially prepared or fully prepared. I know we talked a bit about. Some of these vegetables, you would not wanna have them prepared before you put 'em in the freezer. But, like if they're partially prepared or pre-chopped, something like that, and you can just pull 'em out and, throw 'em in your air fryer or throw 'em in a grill basket.

I think another grill basket's another great tool. All of these things like just like add to a meal, but you didn't have to do any of that labor.

Roni: Mm-hmm.

Riley: Um, and you can freeze those things into small portions if you've got freezer space. Um, or bags, sasher bags free. Super duper well, little foil pans if you have stackable space.

And just doing these little meal maker things that really add to what you're cooking, but you didn't have to do all that work. Again, saving yourself so much time and energy and kitchen heat. Um, I think, I think it's a great way to utilize your freezer in the summertime.

Roni: Yeah, I love it. I w I have on my list to think about, already cooked meats and being able to freeze those. Like [00:14:00] I found a recipe for this, like Asian inspired braised beef and you freeze it in the braising liquid, kind of makes it even extra like. More flavorful and savory when you thaw it.

So there's the idea of that too. And I think this is especially good for meat that it, that does come with some type of a liquid. So that you do have kind of that like gelatine fat content to, to freeze it with. I think that if you were just to like smoke a lean brisket, I don't know that that would freeze very well.

But you know, also thinking about already cooked meats and freezing them with the liquid that they cooked in.

Riley: Yeah, my husband and I have done that with pulled pork before we made, like, I just feel like you can't make a small amount of pulled pork so when you make it, I mean, we're just two people with two kids, you know, so it's just like, it's a massive amount of meat for just not, we're not gonna eat all that.

Um, and freezing it has proven to pork very well. Um, another one that I feel like might be a little bit obvious is like berries from your garden, which I kind of touched on a little bit ago, but I know Roni, [00:15:00] your, your strawberry plants in your garden are just prolific.

Roni: Prolific.

Riley: Um, and so I'm just thinking, washing them, drying them really well, and then freezing them is, Awesome. It makes for great smoothies. It makes you, it allows you to have really fresh, delicious summer berries in the wintertime.

Roni: Yeah.

Riley: So if you wanted to save them for later. And also just like making smoothie packs, like if you're a big smoothie drinker or maybe like a protein shake with a little bit of fruit in it, something like that.

It's something that my mom does a lot, but. She'll take a bag, she'll put the berries in it, she'll put spinach in it, even like a scoop of protein powder. The only thing she doesn't put in it is the liquid usually. And then throws that frozen pack in the blender with the liquid and then it's done. And this is again, something that might not take that long to make in the moment, but if you do it all at one time, then you, you're saving yourself like, what, 10 minutes every day to get that smoothie ready. Gets you out the door and gets you onto your adventures a lot faster.

Roni: prevents [00:16:00] those foods from going bad. Like when my strawberry plants are, um, really kicking off. We cannot keep up with the amount of strawberries unless I was eating strawberries for every single meal or we were giving strawberries away to people. It's, yeah. When you, when you, particularly if you have those kinds of plants in your own garden, uh, yeah.

They can give you a lot of produce, so it is really good to think about ways that you can save them. My main tip for freezing fruit is like when you wash it, I like to just put mine after I wash it and everything. I, I'll, I'll like not dry it off super well. But then I lay it on a, a cookie sheet and put it in the freezer in the cookie sheet.

And so then they all kind of, uh, freeze separately and then I'll just slide 'em into a bag and that way it keeps it from being just like a one pound chunk of strawberries.

Riley: Yeah, that's a great tip. That's a great tip. I actually do that with a less nutritious thing, which is cookie dough. Um, um, but [00:17:00] kind of with the same idea I. Freezing individual little cookie dough, balls or protein, protein balls, protein bites, things along those lines, freezing them individually. And then just having that, again, pre-cooked, or not pre-cooked, but pre ready to roll when you want 'em, you can just make a couple at a time. I love that. So

Roni: So Riley, how do you decide what recipes will work best for putting in the freezer?

Riley: The first thing that comes to mind is nothing, not a lot of green things, but I guess I should clarify because hardy or vegetables, like brussel sprouts and like broccoli or green beans, those all frees really well. But like lettuces, again, that water content thing, they don't freeze well.

Man, that's such a good question. I, I most often freeze our leftovers. Um, if we have a lot, if it's enough for another meal, it often becomes a freezer meal instead of becoming us like to, instead of becoming lunch the next day. 

But I'm just trying. Let me think for a second about what I [00:18:00] often freeze. A lot of soups freeze so well, it's almost not even a question. They just freeze so well. Almost all hardy proteins or like, you know, meat, proteins freeze. Super duper well, uh, beans.

Curry. Freeze this super well. Um, this is not really giving you the answer to your question, which was how do I decide? Um, but I guess it really, it, it does because if it is not gonna get weird in the freezer, I often freeze it.

Roni: Yeah.

Riley: I mean, I feel like you can freeze anything. You can freeze breakfast sandwiches, you can freeze breakfast burritos. You can freeze cookie dough. You can freeze oatmeal, like breakfast oatmeal, like a bake, like an oatmeal bake.

You can freeze that. You can freeze raw egg. So like most of my breakfast casserole when I make them, I don't cook them. I freeze them raw. 

Roni: the thing that I think about, which is along the lines of all of the things that we've really actually already said and that you just said, is that I think particular, like if you're. If the goal is to freeze the entire meal and not [00:19:00] just a portion of the meal, so, you know, if we're talking about freezing just the vegetables or just the meat, that's not the entire meal.

But if you're, you know, having a dish that's cooked and you wanna freeze it, I think the best things for freezing are something that has some sort of like a sauciness to it. So that way your, other ingredients are kind of like blanketed with that sauce, which like prevents them from drying out or getting freezer burn on them.

Which is exactly why like things like soups and stews do freeze so well. Or I mean, even things like casserole, like if it's a casserole that has, um, like an enchilada casserole has enchilada sauce in it or something, you don't have to be as, as long as it has some sort of like a sauce to, like I said, like prevent things from drying out.

You actually don't have to be quite as concerned about like, I have to wrap this, like the tightest I've ever wrapped it before. Because you're not gonna have to worry about the freezer burn aspect of it quite as much.

Riley: Yeah, I mean this sounds silly, but when in doubt Google it. You know, like if you're like, should I freeze this or should I not freeze this? I think, uh, Google is a great resource and that maybe sounds like [00:20:00] a cop out answer. But I do that myself when I'm unsure. But I feel like in general, so much is freezable.

And like you said, having a sauce is super helpful. Pre-cooked, like haole kind of things when the meal is all in one. Um, or if I, if I, sometimes, if I have like a rice and a curry, sometimes I'll freeze that just all in one and if I don't mind it all being mixed up, sometimes I'll freeze the sauce separately from a grain or something like that.

Yeah, I feel like maybe I didn't answer your question super well, 

Roni: yeah. 

well, I just, I wanted to try and, um, give everybody an idea of like, If they were feeling like, I don't even know where to get started with, like what I should put as a freezer meal, you know, like what I could get started with for a freezer meal for the summer. Because maybe they just don't utilize their freezer that much for like a fully cooked meal.

It's maybe just the place that they store their, you know, frozen pizzas and, ground beef or something. So,

Riley: Yeah. I think I grew up in a family with, where we utilized the freezer quite a bit. Um, my grandparents had a really large [00:21:00] garden and we would always bring home bags of green beans, fresh green, green, fresh green beans, frozen in a bag. Same with collards. Um, and. Like my mom always would pull those out through the end of the summer into the winter.

Like we would have all these fresh things. But a lot of things that would be a little bit more no-brainer to freeze and after they've been cooked is like casserole, like baked beans. Maybe you had like a party and there was a ton of baked beans flipp over that can freeze really well. I would say that more things are feasible than people realize. So I would say that instead of thinking, oh, there's no way this is, I can freeze this. Assume you can freeze it. Um, because I, I really do feel like a lot of things that people are cooking free, super duper well.

Roni: Yeah.

Riley: Right. A lot of things that people are cooking freeze super duper well.

Um, I think another thing about freezer meals is sometimes it's good to have an end date in mind. Like, I'm gonna freeze this in, we're gonna eat it on Friday, so it's Monday and you eat it on Friday, or something [00:22:00] like that. Or, oh, let's pull this out and we'll have that next week. That kind of thing kind of helps stuff get less weird.

The less time it's in the freezer is good. Some things last forever and ever, months and months and like up to six months in the freezer. But if you're unsure about something going in the freezer, freeze it for a little while and see. And then that less time it can sometimes get a little bit less weird, um, if it's been in there for an extensive amount of time.

Roni: yeah. That's a good point. 

Riley: Another way you can utilize freezer meals, uh, for yourself or for others is for situations like if you're gonna have a baby, preparing freezer meals in advance for that time after you have a baby. So you have way less work to do.

Maybe you have a really good freezer stash of meals and you wanna take something to a friend, um, who needs a meal made for them, or maybe they had surgery or maybe you have in-laws coming into town. That is a way I utilize freezer meals often. Um, and. The same idea that when we have family in town, I don't wanna spend my whole time in the kitchen.

Uh, and so I'll pre-make things so that my [00:23:00] meal prep for those evenings is faster. It's the same idea if like, we're outside all day in the summer or you know, maybe you get home from work. And it's 5:00 PM and your only time to get to go do something fun outside is from like the five to seven, five to nine timeframe.

You don't wanna spend all that time in the kitchen. So doing some of this work ahead of time, or like on a night when you do have time to cook and making a duplicate or something like that, it can really fill in these gaps. So your time is just yours. You don't have to spend it in the kitchen. Now I do like to cook, but I also really like to not spend all my time in the kitchen too.

So with that, I actually just had a baby earlier this year and I'm gonna just tell you all the things that I froze for myself, uh, in preparation for that time, because it was super helpful. It was really helpful for my husband, like while he is an incredible cook and super capable, just the time is what we got back by having all this stuff prepared.

I made a lot of, I froze a lot of things that made [00:24:00] meals easier. So again, the same idea of just making, having these freezer things to make your life easier, these meal makers, I froze, portioned cooked and marinated meats. Um, so pre-portioned salmon, pre-cooked pork. Raw chicken, raw steaks, things that were just easy to like, take out and just thaw and cook on the grill or something like that really fast.

Some of these things were cooked. The pork was cooked, salmon's cooked. I made these chicken poppers. They're like breakfast chicken poppers, which I'll give you the recipe for to share with everybody because they're incredible. They're from Unbound Wellness. I think they're called like breakfast.

Chicken, breakfast poppers or something like that. They're such a good snack cuz they're high protein, good fats in 'em. And they're just like, they thaw out amazing and they just pop them in like your toaster oven or the oven for just a little while to heat 'em up. Microwave even. I froze breakfast sandwiches and breakfast burritos, breakfast casserole, lactation cookies, [00:25:00] um, bone broth soups.

So a lot of just like. Really nutritious. Try to cook, try to freeze a lot of nutritious and warm foods. If you're somebody who's had a baby, having a lot of warm, nourishing food, postpartum is. Really what you need. You have depleted yourself a lot of nutrition. And so like getting all that back in that time is great.

A lot of warm foods is also what you want in that time, uh, while you're healing. So I would assume the same for, uh, for like post-surgery. Um, so any soup that could have a bone, like bone broth. I made soup with bone broth. Curry Roni, you made me an amazing curry for after I had my baby. We had some lasagnas.

I love Mexican food. I don't think there's a season for it. I think it is year round. Um, and so like tamas free super well inch, a lot of casserole free, super well, um, you could like chop up onions and probably and bell peppers and like steak all in a bag and like then just toss it into a skillet to make fajitas.

A lot of those things like that where you take this main [00:26:00] part. And then you turn it into a meal with fresh ingredients. That's a lot of what I did for my postpartum, like meal prep. Because again, my husband could cook it, but it was like half prepared already. I froze a lot of rice and grains, a lot of chopped, uh, sweet potatoes, a lot of chopped white potatoes.

And I think that is about the, like, that's about what I, that's about what my freezer looked like, uh, for afterwards. But hopefully that's helpful for somebody. Maybe you're not about to have a baby, but maybe all of that is what you do for your summer, 

and you have all that in your freezer ready to roll so you don't have to cook at all.

Roni: And so how long do you feel like. A lot of that. How did the, how long did all that prep last you?

Riley: Um, So my baby's 11 weeks old and we are still pulling things out of the freezer to eat now. Um, and that was intentional because, you know, right after we had our daughter, like we had people bringing us meals, um, or like nights where just things didn't feel quite chaos, we could actually cook something.

[00:27:00] Um, but it's, these meals that are, that we have in the freezer are really for like the chaos.

Roni: Yeah.

Riley: The chaos nights. Um, oh, we've already got this, let's. Let's thaw that out, or let's throw that in the air fryer. I got these great like pre-portioned salmon cutlet things that you just like heat in the air fryer.

They're just salmon. It's just so good. They're not breaded or anything. And you just serve that with some rice. Maybe it's rice you already have frozen and maybe a's side salad, like that's so easy. Comes together fast, but it's a really good dinner. Um, chopped veggies of some kind. So it's lasting us a, a long time.

I would say I probably had. It was probably like 20 meals and we just have sporadically placed them or like people brought us food on a night, we weren't planning on it or we froze leftovers here and there cuz we're still doing that. It's a very active part of our meal planning is if it, if if we have extra leftovers, it just gets sealed up and put in the freezer for another night.

And so I would say probably 20 to 25 meals, uh, have lasted us quite a while because it's not every night that we need it. Um, but there's certainly a [00:28:00] couple nights a week that we do so.

Roni: Well, I love it. I think that's a really good example to show everyone kind of what that looks like. That it's not just. Only sides or only mains, or only full dinners. 

Riley: Or only lasagna.

Roni: Yeah. It's like a mixture of all of them. As we've talked about before, we never make lasagna up in here, so, uh, so, but I, I really like that you gave that example of all the things you actually did freeze because, I think it just goes to show that it's a smorgasboard of things.

Riley: Yeah, and I think that it's, it's easy to feel like a lot of the things that you freeze. Maybe one of my, okay, let me backtrack. One of my priorities with all the things that I froze was to not just have a bunch of like, Cheesy dense casserole or like carbohydrate, high carbohydrate casserole or like, I don't know, like saucy, like I'm think I'm, I guess.

I was just trying to help myself have a lot of nutrition, nutrient dense food. And so like having these like [00:29:00] pieces of a puzzle, like pieces of a meal come together, allowed me to kind of pick and choose what we like, what I felt like I was needing at any given time. It wasn't a ton of casseroles that I froze.

You know, like just that can just become a bit like, like those heavier meals that can just be feel heavy. And I, afterwards, after I had the baby, I really just wanted to have like the option to have these really like, Veggie, full protein, full meals. And so freezing these individual things was really helpful in that way.

I feel like afterwards, um, like after I had the baby, like just I could just start to like get back, um, like the nutrition that you lose in pregnancy, which is just the facts of it. So, 

Roni: okay. So a lot of the information that I took about freezer meals was, you know, from the internet, but, uh, there is a, it's called the Ultimate Freezer Meal Prep Guide, and it's from Peanut Butter and Fitness. I'm gonna link it in the show notes of the re of the, not the recipe of the podcast, so that you guys can check it out.

It has a ton more information and [00:30:00] she actually gives a lot of really great tips for, um, single serving freezer meals. So, if you're somebody who is. A solo person or maybe just two people and you don't, and you're like, I don't have, I don't wanna freeze an entire huge casserole because it's just the two of us.

We're never going to eat this thing, whether it's frozen or brand new. So she has a lot of really great tips. So go check it out in the show notes and, see all the things that she says. She talks a lot about like how to ensure that like your pasta doesn't get mooshy, your breads don't get soggy. Like a bunch of different things.

So I think it's a really great resource and y'all should check it out.

Riley: I found a list of freezer friendly side dishes that we can also share. It's from Taste of Home, but it was just like a lot of options that are really gray freezer side dishes that utilize a lot of summer vegetables. So I can send that to you Also, we can share that too, if people are looking for some real recipe, tangible recipes for actually freezing.

Roni: Yeah, it's great. I also wanna [00:31:00] mention that I listened to, or recently listened to a podcast episode. Well, We're recording this in the springtime. Um, so the podcast episode is probably a little older now when this podcast is going live, but it's from dinner, s o s, which is a podcast from Bon Appetit, and it's titled The Freezer Is Your Friend.

And, By the way, the premise of dinner, so s is amazing. It's the people from Bon Appetit, they have callers who call in with like a question or a challenge that they have related to, um, cooking or their kitchen. And they take their Bon Appetit experts and like, help problem solve for this. Particular person situation.

It's an amazing podcast. Everybody should listen to it. And, um, so they did this one specifically about freezer meals. They give some really great recommendations for freezer meals and just, um, like how to package freezer meals as well, like how, like the storage of freezer meals. So I'll link to that in the show notes too.

It's a really good listen.

Riley: I also just can't let this go. Uh, this [00:32:00] podcast go without saying that the Plan to Eat freezer is incredible and it is something that I utilized in my. Like postpartum freezer planning, to just keep track of what in the world you have. Um, so if you didn't know, we have a freezer section we do and it's awesome.

And highly recommend utilizing that so you can keep track of just whatever you have in the freezer because it can get a little bit chaotic in free. Um, in my freezer, well, I'll speak for myself. It can get really chaotic in my freezer, but just knowing how that I have a list somewhere is incredibly valuable.

Roni: Yeah, we did a feature Friday episode on the freezer as well. Uh, we can link to that in the show notes so that you guys can check that out if you'd need a little more in depth. Explanation of how to use the freezer in Plan to Eat

Riley: okay. I have two things for you, Roni. it's two bonuses for this episode. 

One of them you can freeze cocktails.

Roni: Really?

Riley: Yeah. So I mean, alcohol doesn't actually freeze. But you can [00:33:00] mix all the parts of a cocktail together and put it in your freezer. So maybe you have a, having a party sometimes coming up.

You can pre-do it and have it in the freezer.

Roni: Genius.

Riley: Yes. And I have a, I have a, I have a link for people if they are looking for that. , punch punch talks about, uh, freezing cocktails, , or like storing cocktails in the freezer. , And then the other is I have like four meals that, um, they're like 15 minute meals that they come together in 15 minutes using items from your freezer.

Roni: Hmm.

Riley: Okay, the first one is air fried fish. So like, either you bought like shrimp or you bought cod or even like fish sticks, whatever. Whatever fish you want. Salmon, you can air fry that., With a salad kit and make it into tacos., there's this great one from Taylor Farms called like Asian something. It's like a spicy Thai, Thai mango salad kit thing.

You put that together with some [00:34:00] fish outta your air fryer on a taco. It is 15 minutes or less, and it is so good. , you can freeze like precooked, shredded chicken really, really well. Um, my husband pulled that out one night and he mixed it on the stove with like, uh, Spanish rice and sauteed it all together.

And then he wrapped that in burritos. But you could also have that just like, as like a, like a rice bowl. Um, super delicious. And then apple chicken sausages. 

, you can freeze those. Super easy, pull them out. Uh, eat it with apples. And cheese. Great little lunch. Or you could have, you could elevate it maybe with like a rice or a side salad or something like that. that was not five, that was four, but that 

Roni: Oh, you said four you. Oh, I was gonna say, you said four.

Riley: Oh, I said four, but it's three. Um, but those are meals that are regular in our rotation and they come together in 15 minutes or less and it utilizes things from our freezer.

Roni: I love it and I love those chicken and apple sausages, the IDs brand. 

Riley: [00:35:00] Yes, those

are the ones. They're so 

Roni: best. Sometimes you can find 'em at Costco in like the super jumbo pack, and that's the ti like that's what I do is if, if they're at Costco, I buy the like, 16 sausages, which is like a lot. And then I'll freeze most of 'em and just, uh, keep one package in the fridge at a time.

And we love those.

Riley: Yeah, we love those two and it makes just a really fast meal, but something you store in your freezer. So.

Roni: Yeah.

Should we get into the, uh, the end of the episode Riley.

Riley: Yes, we should. All right, fam, I got some news for you. I, uh, will no longer be the co-host of the Plan to Eat podcast. I am taking a step back from Plan to eat, , to stay home with my kids. I just told you I had another baby. I have two daughters now. , and yeah, I, I'm gonna try not to cry, but. Oh, plan to eat people.

I love you and I have loved this podcast so much and I'm so excited that Roni is gonna continue it. And I hope that it is, uh, just, it's gonna be, [00:36:00] it's gonna be wonderful. But my time on the show has been just my favorite thing. and my time with Plan to Eat has been amazing. So if I have ever talked to you over our support line, cuz that's what I did for a long time.

just thank you for being amazing customers. Uh, but yeah, my time, I'm, I'm taking a break, so, I just wanted to tell you guys that personally, I didn't wanna just dip out and, kind of just like be gone, you know, it's like, where'd that girl go? Uh, so this is me just saying goodbye.

Yeah, I love you guys and I love playing to eat and I can't wait to see where it goes.

Roni: Yeah, we're gonna miss you. This podcast has been so fun. For those of you who don't know, Riley and I created the podcast together. It's been our little labor of love, and we really have loved it. And like Riley said, I'm gonna do my best to continue on. It's um, It's gonna be me doing interviews only. I'm not gonna come on here and just blab at you by myself.

So, so, uh, but we wish you the best, Riley, and, we love you. Should we end [00:37:00] talking about a recent recipe just for one last time?

Riley: Yeah, of course we should.

Roni: So I'll talk about the recipe that I made last night. It was a little bit outside of what I normally cook, but it was. Amazing. What I was trying to do was, uh, just basically like let's try to use as all of the things in the fridge before the next time I go to the grocery store. I was really trying, actually, I think I have two recipes to talk about cuz I did this for two nights in a row.

Riley: It's so funny because my meal is also, uh, everything in our fridge kind of meal, so I can't wait.

Roni: I was really avoiding the grocery store, and so I was like, we're, we're figuring it out, but we're not just gonna like scrounge, I'm actually gonna make a meal because I know I can do this. So recipe number one was actually two nights ago, I made steak taquitos, which was, they were so good. Okay. So what I did was I went into my plant to eat account.

I went into my search and filtering options. I selected main course, I [00:38:00] selected a main ingredient of beef, and then I typed in. A, an ingredient of cream cheese, cuz I was like, we've got cream cheese and we've got steak. Like, what can I do with these two things? Because those seems like two things that


Riley: so random. Yeah.

Roni: And one of the things that came up was taquitos and I didn't have quite all the other things for it, but it was like, Basically you like mix the sour cream or mix the cream cheese with salsa and, um, some like seasonings and stuff. And then, what I did was I just like really quickly seared the steak.

It was still very rare on the inside. Sliced it super thin. And then we had tortillas. So I, um, put the cream cheese sauce in the tortillas, topped it with a sliced steak. You roll it up, you put the seam side down on the baking sheet. And then you bake it for like 15 minutes, which was why I only like seared the steak and left it really rare on the inside cuz it totally finished cooking when it was in the oven. And it was a hit. My husband was such a big fan

Riley: [00:39:00] That sounds amazing.

Roni: and it 

was, yeah, it was super easy. I was like, wow. I don't know why I've never thought to make taquitos before. So that was really good. Um, and then what I made last night was African beef stew. I think it's maybe called West African beef Stew. Super duper good.

I had, I think you're tech technically supposed to use like whole Roma tomatoes, but I had canned Roma tomatoes and I had beef stew meat. And so you just, you like brown the stew meat and you make this really yummy tomato based sauce that has, smoked paprika and curry powder in it. Um, you let it simmer.

I let it simmer for like about an hour, um, to like really liven up the flavors and then, So I didn't follow the recipe a hundred percent right, cuz you were supposed to have fresh tomatoes that you were supposed to cook, that you were kind of supposed to, you know, make their own sauce with the cooked tomatoes.

Plus you were supposed to add to tomato sauce from a can. So I just used the canned whole tomatoes and then I used tomato paste and the sauce was delicious and a really good consistency. [00:40:00] Um, so served that with rice and it was also really, really good.

Riley: That sounds great.

So I, uh, I pulled some, I pulled a curry out of my. Freezer to thaw tack for dinner. It was just raw chicken bread, uh, raw chicken thighs, in a curry sauce like that would come together. When you cooked it, it was just kinda all the parts thrown into a bag. It was something I had prepped for myself, uh, for the freezer, for my maternity, for my postpartum journey.

Okay, well I thawed it out a little late in the day in. Some hot water in my sink, which is maybe not the best way to do it, but I was trying to get that show on the road, trying to get thaw out for dinner, and there must have been a hole in the bag because the bag filled with water and I was so bummed.

Freezer fail, uh, right there. Um, so I salvaged the chicken th thighs because there was nothing wrong with them. They were just wet.

Roni: Yeah.

Riley: Um, so I ended up just taking those and seasoning them with. A little bit of salt and pepper. They had a bit of that [00:41:00] seasoning left on them from the seasoning in the bag yeah. Um, so I, I sauteed those, and then I added, um, I had some smoked or grilled red bell peppers. I chopped those up. I had carrots in my fridge that I g graded. I had, What else? I had another veggie. I had an onion. I just chopped and threw into this pan and sauteed it all together. I had some leftover coconut milk in the freezer also.

And then what else? I think I added some peanut butter. He be fit, like the dried peanut butter because I, I had that, um, I, I mixed this all together. I saw like, you know, like let a simmer on the stove for quite a while. Added more curry, pa, curry powder. And then served it with rice and it was so good.

Unfortunately, I feel like I can't recreate

Roni: Oh no. 

Riley: again, so it maybe is horrible to like, tell you guys this recipe that I can't recreate again. But it was just a smorgasboard of like things out of like, I had left, I just happened to have carrots and onion and bell [00:42:00] pepper and and then the like, random amount of coconut milk and it just, it came together and it was really delicious. But it came out of a freeze or fail. So maybe it's appropriate for this episode.

Roni: So super appropriate. I love it.

Riley: Yeah,

Roni: All right. Well everyone, thank you for listening. Um, the next podcast will be me on an interview and we will of course, miss. Riley. And you know, back as a, guest on the podcast sometimes.

Riley: I think that's probably a great idea. I'll be here.

Roni: We hope you enjoyed this episode. And if you did, please share it with someone and subscribe to our podcast. Wherever you listen to your podcasts.