In our earlier blog, we discussed how to prep up on a Sunday to smoothen out your weekly meal planning. One small point in that was about freezing grated coconut for future use. The fact is, you can use this method for many items required on a regular basis. Frozen meals are a norm in Martha Stewart households in the West. And it is taking root nowadays in India as well.
The thought of frozen meals sounds scandalous to our previous generation, but imagine situations where you are detained longer than usual in the office, or you get stuck in the traffic, and are unable to get home on time, or there is some family emergency due to which you have no time to cook food from scratch. At such times, frozen food boxes come in dead useful.
The concept of frozen meal is not cooking the entire meal and freezing it. No! It actually includes putting together all the ingredients required for a meal, and then freezing that. When you need to actually serve it, just take out one packet, and cook it as per the recipe. The point is, the major preparation for the dish is already done, so you would need to spend maximum ten-fifteen minutes on heating it up, and serving it. In this case, the cleaning part for later also gets reduced! I will explain in the detail below.
So, here you go. Below is a list of 10 Items you can freeze for future meals:
Khichadi frozen meal:
Make tadka, add soaked rice, all required spices, and roast properly. Freeze the cooled rice in a plastic zip lock bag. When you want to serve, just take out the packet, add water and cook the rice. Trust me, this saves at least 15 minutes of your cooking time on serving day.
Frozen Paneer Gravy:
You can make the onion tomato paste, add salt, spices, and freeze this mixture, once cooled. Freeze the paneer pieces separately. When you want to make the dish, option one is, you can take the gravy paste, add paneer, water and cook a gravy. Option two, is make a thick gravy with very less water, stuff it in a tortilla wrap, and cook to make a nice paneer wrap for your kid. Makes for a cool instant snack!
Frozen Daal / Lentils:
Cook 3-4 times the normal daal that you require for one evening’s meal. Avoid adding excess water while cooking. Freeze this daal, once cooled, in air-tight containers. Use daal as required from these boxes. This is very useful, especially, when you need to cook a very small amount of daal.
Grate fresh coconut, and store in tightly packed in a zip lock bag or a lock-n-lock container. Storing them in an ice cube storage tray can also prove to be efficient. This can stay fresh for up to two months at a time. Extremely useful, when you don’t use grated coconut very often in your vegetables, but need in a small amount from time to time.
Coconut Chutney mix:
As given in my last blog, grind together fresh coconut, green chilies, coriander, and store in the freezer as an instant chutney mix or a masala paste for sprouts curries.
Shelling peas is a time consuming job, best done in bulk on a weekend. Do it for a large quantity, and store in zip lock bags in the freezer. When you want to make a curry, take the green peas, and the coconut chutney mix, and you have an instant curry ready for serving.
Frozen Fruit Pulps:
There are some seasonal fruits which you don’t get throughout the year. E.g. mangoes, litchis, Indian oranges (nagpuri), etc. But, you would still love to have the juices or milkshakes or flavoured yoghurts all throughout the year. What you can do is, at the end of the fruit season, when it starts becoming cheap, buy it in bulk. Squeeze the pulp of the fruits and store tightly in zip lock bags. Try for more number of small size zip lock bags. This way, whenever you want to use it, just take out one bag, and use the pulp. You need not disturb the rest of the frozen stuff. Storage also becomes easy when stuffed in small packs.
Frozen meals: Cooked Dough for Parathas:
The kitchen-loving mommies among our readers will probably hate me for putting this, but you can’t imagine what a relief it is to have some substantial food item like this in the fridge ready to be cooked. Make the paratha dough, round it nicely in a dome shape, cover it with plastic wrap 2-3 times and place it in the freezer. Be careful to take out only the quantity of dough required for the serving day, and replacing the balance dough back in the freezer immediately, so it doesn’t get spoiled.
Chilla / Dheerda Mix:
Another life saver when you’re already hard pressed for time! Mix together all ingredients, including ginger garlic paste, chili powder, salt, etc. And freeze the mixture in a lock-n-lock container. When you want to use it, remove the quantity required, thaw it by adding a little hot water, and voila! Your mixture is ready to be turned into chillas. Again, excellent option for a quick snack or breakfast. If your family likes it, it can also be turned into a full meal, by adding pre-cut veggies, you have already stored in the fridge!!
It takes at least a couple of days for pulses to sprout, so you can never do this at the last minute. What you can do is, cook these sprouts and freeze them once cooled, to have instant pulse curries. And no, the nutrients of the sprouts do not just vanish into thin air after 2 days. That’s a myth!!
So, girls, this a primary list of some frozen items that you can start making to save your time in the kitchen. I know this calls for a major perspective change since we are not used to most of the above, but, trust me when I say it’s worth it… .
Please do try at least some of them at home, and let me know if it makes a difference to your weekly cooking schedules. Important point here: When you get organized, only then you can catch up on your #metime!
Remember to keep having connections and conversations with yourself! Ciao till the next week…