Okay, so spring could be just around the corner, but breaking buds and birdsong doesn’t have to mean the end of all the feel-good favorites you might ordinarily prepare when the weather is chilly. And, if staying healthy these days means staying in, then it’s just the right time to fill your freezer with the heart-warming soups, casseroles and braises that will make being at home feel both comforting and cozy.
What to Freeze
Most of our comfort food faves are dishes that freeze easily—especially those featuring long-simmered sauces and other dense preparations. Avoid freezing dairy-based soups or sauces (which can turn grainy when reheated), most pasta dishes (which can become mushy) and fried foods (which become soggy).
Choosing a Freezing Container
When it comes to choosing a receptacle for freezing, make your selection based on the make-ahead dish you have in mind.
• Soups, stews and other dense concoctions can be stored in lock-top plastic freezer bags (laid flat for easy storage), empty milk cartons or (for just the right serving size) souper cubes or other freezer containers.
• Slow-cooked meats, cooked vegetables, and other bulky items are best stored in plastic storage containers or vacuum-sealed pouches (the latter pretty much the gold-standard for freezer storage since no air means longer storage and no freezer-burn.)
• Casseroles can be frozen in the baking dishes in which they cook or, better yet, glass Pyrex dishes that can go right from freezer to microwave to oven to dishwasher.
Our Freezer-Ready Favorites
Whipping up a double batch of any of these crowd-pleasers will make the most of your time. For the best results, thaw them in the refrigerator overnight before cooking or reheating.
Bring a pitcher of margaritas into the mix, and these modern tacos are key to your hacienda fiesta. The meaty filling works equally well tucked into sandwiches, scattered on nachos, or added to your favorite grain or salad bowl. You can store the pickled red onions in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
A generous dose of mint, parsley, cinnamon and cumin give these hefty pork meatballs a decidedly North African flavor. Freeze the meatballs in a single layer on a baking sheet before transferring them to a freezer container so you can thaw them separately as needed. Freeze the sauce separately in small bags, containers, or souper cubes so you can portion it according to serving size.
We have dozens of soups in our recipe library, and most are prime for long-term storage. This one, like our Roasted Vegetable and Farro Soup, is a vegetable-based no-brainer. Once it’s reheated and ready for serving, swirl in some sour cream and a little bacon for a last-minute creamy-salty finish.
You’re definitely missing something if you don’t have a rich, hearty Bolognese at the ready in your freezer. It’s rich, flavorful, and a little goes a long way. Serve it atop pasta or polenta, or as the key element in a classic lasagna.
Once you pack up all your favorite dishes, don’t forget to label them and note when they went into the freezer. You think you have a memory like an elephant, but you don’t! Plan to enjoy them within about three months for the best flavor, though most can freeze for longer—especially if they’re vacuum-packed!