It’s good to have a few meals squirrelled away in the freezer for busy nights down the road. Some people plan ahead and prep meals for a month, while others double up on dinner and freeze half for later. Or if you’re looking for a new kind of dinner party, get some friends together to cook on a weekend afternoon, and bring home a week’s worth of meals for everyone. Getting together to cook is a great way to get a visit in and at the same time, take care of a task that needs to be done anyway - why not start a cooking club and alternate kitchens once a month? Chopping is always more fun with a friend.
Almost anything can be frozen, but anything liquidy - soups, stews, braises, casseroles - do well in the freezer, as they tend to insulate themselves against freezer burn. (As for what not to freeze, potatoes tend to get watery, and dairy products can separate.) Because you don’t want all of your casserole dishes to be occupied in the freezer, aluminum takeout containers are a great idea, and are three for $1 at the Dollar Store (as a bonus, you can seal them up and then write reheating instructions on the white lid). Cool food completely before freezing, and store in smaller containers to maintain their texture (and make it faster to thaw). For casseroles, lasagnas, and the like, assemble and freeze, then bake from frozen, adding 10 minutes or so on to your baking time.
Turkey Chili with Butternut Squash and Apples
This unique, flavorful chili is easy to make in large batches, and perfect for freezing.
Set a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat and add a generous drizzle of oil. Add the onion, carrot, and celery and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, until starting to soften. Add the turkey and cook, breaking up with a spoon, until the meat is no longer pink. Add the cilantro (if you like, save some of the leaves for garnish), garlic, chili powder, cumin, some salt and pepper, and cook for another minute.
Add the stock, squash, apple, tomatoes, coconut milk, and black beans. Bring to a simmer and cook for 30 to 45 minutes, until the squash is tender and the chili has thickened. Season with more salt, if needed. Serve right away or cool and refrigerate overnight, then reheat the next day. Serves 6.
Julie is a best-selling cookbook author, food writer, cooking instructor, and the food and nutrition columnist on the Calgary Eyeopener on CBC Radio. For more information and to subscribe to Julie’s ‘Free Lunch,’ delicious deliveries right to your inbox, visit dinnerwithjulie.com.
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