Hi food friends!
By now, I'm pretty sure you know that I love a freezer meal. At the end of every summer, I channel my back to school anxiety into making freezer food. I try to make a variety: proteins, snacks, breakfasts, and quick eats. Here's what I made this summer to have easy food on hand for those brutal first few weeks back to school.
I've learned that what always leaves the freezer first is grab and go snacks so I stock up on ones I know we'll love. This summer I made two energy bite types: Cherry almond (above) and "brownie" bites (below).
What I love about these is I know that they'll be about 50 calories a pop so I can have 2-3 for a snack and they're so easy to throw into a lunch box. Plus, I made them myself so I know there are no funny ingredients or added sugar. I also made these trail mix bites I've talked about before, which take a little longer to make but are so delicious. Honestly, they're almost gone!
No back to school snack prep would be complete without granola bars. This recipe from Smitten Kitchen is my go-to because it's lower sugar than so many I've come across. Personally, I really don't want a cup of sugar in my granola bars. Usually I adapt the recipe by changing it to like 1/4-1/2 a cup of chocolate chips and filling the rest with dried fruit / seeds / nuts. I love making my own combos based on what I have on hand.
I also made these protein oat bars, except instead of blueberries I used raspberries and it was a very good idea.
I made these pineapple muffins a while ago and they are a frequent pick for me because they're healthy, low in sugar, and delicious. If you're into the tropical vibe, I would go for these. They freeze pretty well for muffins too.
I dare say these chocolate chip zucchini muffins were the recipe find of the summer--that's how much I liked them. I had to put them in the freezer before I ate them ALL. ( I still managed to eat two or three! ) They are moist and delicious. Can't stop won't stop. I also made these paleo banana zucchini muffins but I'm not a fan of recipes that only call for coconut flour so I should have known I wouldn't love them. I'm just not into the coconut flour flavor but if you are, do it!
I thought I was all done with the zucchini baked goods but then my aunt dropped off a giant zucchini so what could I do? Make chocolate zucchini bread muffins, obviously. I do like breads but I prefer muffins since they are better for grab and portioned out.
Pancakes maybe aren't what you'd think of when you think grab and go breakfast, but if you pop these in the toaster (or even microwave), and add some syrup and fresh fruit, you have a fast breakfast. I adapted these from poppy seeds to chia seeds because I never have poppy seeds and chia seeds are a great substitute.
I also made these paleo almond coconut waffles. They were a little dry for my taste but I was psyched that I just happened to make them on national waffle day. Plus, I just buried them in toppings, not that I would ever do anything like that.
One thing I've realized from making many freezer foods over the last few years is that proteins are key. Sure, snacks are great but when it comes to dinner time (at which point in the day I have ZERO energy or interest in spending forever in the kitchen) I need something delicious and fast. My go to is meatballs, which is why I made SO MANY MEATBALLS. The above are turkey + basil and these spinach and feta ones from How Sweet Eats which are SO GOOD that I've made them twice more since!
I also did a meatball recipe show down. I made these bahn mi meatballs from Not Without Salt and these Bahn Mi meatballs from Pinch of Yum.
The winner? Hands down the Pinch of Yum ones. I had never used the lemongrass paste before but it gave them an amazing flavor without the consistency of the chopped herbs. Next time I would reduce the salt since my paste had salt in it and my meatballs became pretty salty ( not that I would complain about that! ). I would also crisp them in the pan and then throw them in the oven next time instead of trying to just pan cook them. I like them so much that we devoured the batch I'd intended to freeze so I'm making them again and actually putting them in the freezer! They're great to throw in a noodle bowl like I did above, with quinoa, in a stir fry, in an actual bahn mi sandwich, or just on their own!
I've made these Indian Spiced Chicken Burgers before but decided to turn them into meatballs when I saw this marsala paste / sauce recipe. I can't wait to make the sauce some fall night, defrost the meatballs, throw them into the sauce, and cook up some quinoa and a veggie. I'm so excited for it.
Obviously I made these black bean burgers too because you know I"m obsessed with them and I know they won't stay in the freezer long.
Yes, this did have to be its own category! Though not the healthiest choice, we often have cookie dough in our freezer. This can be problematic if you get into the habit of having cookies every night--so don't do that!--BUT if you can contain yourself, it's great to have cookies without having a whole cooked batch sitting around your house. Plus, if people come over you can just throw a few in the oven to have--and fresh baked cookies for guests is pretty much the best ever.
We have healthier peanut butter, oat, chocolate chips ones, and these from Smitten Kitchen which are my absolute favorite. I also make these every summer and then bake them off the night before open house so parents get a handout and a cookie when they come to my room. First impressions are important and cookies really help me out! I find this recipe very adaptable--I have taken things I like from other recipes to adapt the recipe and make lots of variations--I added some of a strawberry white chocolate bar we had from s'mores instead of chocolate chips to a small batch. I'm not upset about it.
I had to make Real Food Whole Life's dairy free pesto. If you've ever read a food post here, I've probably talked about this pesto. I'm pretty sure I'm its biggest fan. I'm pretty obsessed with it and it freezes SO WELL. I take the small ball jars and just throw 'em in the freezer. When I'm making zoodles or pasta or even turkey burgers, I grab one or two out and defrost 'em--easy dinner!
That's a wrap! If you're wondering how this is all in my freezer right now. . . I am too. Here are some tips: Pick the right container--often this is a plastic bag / Ziplock so that it can squeeze into tight spots in the freezer. Just remember things like the granola bars are more fragile ( than say meatballs ) so they'll need a structured container. Also, labeling is your friend. Sure, you know what that pesto looked like originally but a few weeks from now you'll be all "uhhhh what is that green stuff?" Yea, trust me, labels.
Any you want to try? Comment if you make anything!