We all love warm food that was prepared moments ago, right? My mom used to make fresh food inspite of her busy schedule. As much as I’d love to follow her, when life throws fit one day, everything falls down and you just go out and eat.
The two issues I faced are, not having clear idea of what I’m going to cook that evening and standing dumb stuck when my hungry toddler comes and asks me mummum (food in his language).
I had been fighting this battle in the initial few years into the married life. Then comes my masters sand I had little time left for cooking. Husband and I were doing long distance relationship and it was hard for me to manage MBA, travel cooking. That’s when I got introduced to menu planning and freezer cooking.
Indian Meal Planning:
The first couple of months were more of a learning when I started menu planning. Because I had to plan everything a week ahead and I had to have all the ingredients ready for the week as well. Those first few weeks, I wasted too many groceries as I’d stock up the fridge thinking that I’d make these elaborate meal everyday with the help of menu planning.
Planning new recipes or elaborate meals everyday don’t work for me. Most of my meals are simple and I try to make at least 1 new recipe every week. Below is what I do every week nowadays:
- Every Sunday, I go through the fridge, freezer, and pantry and list out the things that can be used for main dishes.
- Write down breakfast, lunch, and dinner menu for every day of the week
- I clean and cut all the veggies that I’ll be using during that week.
- Once I have the list, I’ll stick it in the fridge. When I’m ready to cook, I’ll check the list for that day and start making the meal. I have nothing to think here.
If you’d like to know more, follow my Indian menu planning here. I post my weekly menu planning every Saturday in the blog including the make-ahead preparations. On Sunday, I mostly share my make-ahead meals planning.
So you plan the weekly menu and quite happy that you’ll stick to it for that week. Unexpectedly, your life gets crazy and you have no time to follow the menu plan. What will you do and how would you manage to eat tasty and healthy meals at home? (and save quite a lot of money).
That’s where freezer cooking comes in. I always carry 1 or 2 ready-to-go homemade meals in the freezer for an emergency. Food that’s stored in the freezer can be used within 1-2 months depends on the type of food. By freezing food, you’re not losing any nutrition value. I prefer freezing food than keeping it in the fridge.
For example, this week I had my Indian menu planned for the week and I was super confident that my schedule will work out to follow the plan. However, the last two days were crazy that I spent maximum 5 minutes in the kitchen every day.I froze some curries and sambars in the freezer and I used them for both lunch and dinner. And the good thing is, we didn’t repeat any of these meals in the last two days.
We had Noodle biriyani yesterday (from the noodles in the freezer) for lunch and Anaheim pepper and cashew gravy for dinner (again, doubled the cooking and froze one batch for later use).
Today, we had roti with tomato curry from the freezer.
Below are some freezing instructions for Indian meal:
Whenever you cook a freezer friendly Indian meal, double the quantity than what was needed and freeze one portion (don’t forget to label the food with date and curry information). Also, understand the quantities of each curry/meal you make. Below are some of the examples.
What To Freeze:
- Cooked lentil: Freeze them in small batches. When you are ready to make sambar or lentil based food, take it out few hours before and use once it’s thawed.
- Pasta: Pasta freezes really well (here is one of my recipes: Baked Pasta). It’s one of our favorite dinner meals.
- Vegetables: Cut the vegetables as soon as you’re home from the grocery stores and store them in the fridge. That way you won’t lose the nutritional value
- Chutney: Do you make Dosa/idly/roti often? Then, you need to freeze chutney for emergencies. All the chutnies freeze well as well
- Curries: Curries freeze well unless you have dumplings (such as malai kufta) in it
- Rice: Rice freezes like a charm. Once you’re ready to use, defrost them in microwave
- Greens: Cut all your greens (spinach and whatever you buy from the store) and freeze them for later use; Since coriander doesn’t stay fresh for long, I wash/cut it and freeze it for everyday use
- Onions and Tomato: If I see a good deal on onion (or any vegetable for that matter), I buy them in bulk, cut, and store them for later use. You can use onion directly from the freezer. No need to wait until it comes to room temperature. Same with Tomato as well
- Idly: Have left over Idly? No worries. Freeze it for later use. When you’re ready to eat, take out and defrost in microwave
- Fruits: I cut most of the fruits and freeze them. The ones I avoid are, oranges and banana. However, if banana is about to go waste, I freeze them and use for my banana bread or oatmeal breakfast cookie.
You can freeze most of the Indian meals without any problem. Just make sure you use freezer friendly, air-tight container or bag for freezing meals to avoid freezer burns
What Not To Freeze:
- Dry vegetable curries: The dry curries and frys don’t freeze well. They get soggy and looses the crispyness
- Potatoes: Never had a success with potato. It loses its texture when freezing
- Eggs: I guess you can boil and freeze eggs. I didn’t like it’s texture after thawing/defrosting
- Milk can be frozen if you’re going to use it in curries or something else. For coffee/tea, frozen milk doesn’t work
If you’re interested in menu planning, here is a Facebook group called “Indian Meal Planning Support Group”. Link: https://www.facebook.com/groups/263531607423230/
Check out my weekly Indian menu planning here.
How To Grocery Budgeting: Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3