Freezer Friendly Meals – The Perfect Gift for Busy Caregivers

Normally I don’t like to post recipes that I haven’t tried – it doesn’t seem like an honest commentary. While the recipes were prepared in my kitchen with the help of my sisters, they weren’t for us to enjoy.  These are freezer friendly meals that are designed to be made in well in advance of serving. Think of them as the perfect gift  for a busy family, a new mother or, in our case, to help ease the stress of a family caregiver.  These nifty meals are designed for the crock-pot or microwave, providing a flavorful supper with little or no fuss for the recipient.

03-22-2010-4A few years back, Dad wasn’t doing well and his wife, Sue was beside herself with trips to the hospitals and rehab centers. It was a frightening time for our family, with Dad in and out of the hospital suffering from a brain trauma. (That’s a polite was of saying his brain was bleeding due to a reaction to blood thinners). Sue has been on one heck of a roller-coaster ride, and was spending more time hospitals and centers than she has at home. For them, “home” is a small farm in the country. Even a simple errand of running to the market involves a trip “to town”. With Dad’s health issues, Sue hasn’t had the time nor energy to run to the grocery store. The freezers, pantry and refrigerators were looking pretty bare.  And even if they had been bursting at the seams with supplies, who had time to cook a decent meal with all those hours at the hospital? Such is the life of many a caregiver – often too busy caring for others that they forget to care for themselves. My sisters and I wanted to stock the freezer with good, homemade meals so that when Dad came home, Sue could care for him and we could care for them.

These recipes were super easy to prepare.  And it was such fun for me to spend the day with my wonderful sisters, shopping, chopping and freezing the day away.  It was reminiscent a far-off time when we all lived under one roof.  When it came to assemble our caregivers care packages, what seemed to work best for us was to do all the chopping at once – each of us taking a different vegetable to chop.  The chopped vegetables were then divided into the appropriate bags according to recipe. Oh, and one more thing – label your bags with the recipe’s name and cooking instructions BEFORE filling.  That way everyone helping knows what goes into which bag and it makes life so much easier for the person on the receiving end.

Freezer Meal Gifts for the Caregiver in Your Life
Creamy Farmhouse Chicken and Garden Soup
Lasagna Style Ravioli
Slow Cooker Bean Stew
Slow Cooker Meat Stew
Slow Cooker Pork Roast with Veggies
Teriyaki Chicken Rice Bowls

Creamy Farmhouse Chicken and Garden Soup
½ Package (16 oz) Frozen Mixed Vegetables
1 Cup Frozen Corn
1 Zucchini, sliced
2 bone-in chicken thighs, skinned
½ teaspoon garlic, minced
½ teaspoon dried thyme
½ cup Frozen peas, thawed
2 tablespoons chopped parsley flakes
2 tablespoons butter, finely chopped
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 Can (14 oz) Chicken Broth
1 Cup Half-and-half
3 Cups Prepared Noodles (Any Style to create noodle soup)

Place all the ingredients EXCEPT broth, milk and noodles in a zip lock bag. Freeze bag until ready to cook. Thaw, place in the crock pot.

Add broth and milk. Cook on low 6-8 hours. Just before serving, add 3 cups of prepared noodles and stir.

Serving: 7-8

Lasagna Style Ravioli
1 large package Ravioli (desired filling)
1 Jar Marinara Sauce
2 Cups Shredded Mozzarella Cheese

Par-boil Ravioli, about 2 minutes. Drain and let cool. Divide ravioli between three containers. In each container, layer ravioli, sauce, cheese, repeat with 2nd layer, ending with cheese.

Cover and freeze.

To serve, place in microwave for 6-8 minutes, until heated through.

Slow Cooker Bean Stew 
1 Cup Dry Beans, picked over and rinsed (we used Red Kidney Beans)
2 Medium Carrots, peeled and chopped
1 Small Onion, chopped
3 tablespoons uncooked rice (we used long-grain white rice)
1 teaspoon herbes de Provence or dried thyme
½ teaspoon salt
1 Pinch ground white or black pepper
6 cups chicken broth or vegetable broth (add to crock pot when cooking)

Combine ingredients in a gallon zip lock bag (minus the broth). Remove as much air as possible from bag, lay flat and freeze.

When ready to make, thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Empty contents of bag into crock pot and pour broth over mixture. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.

Serving: 4-5

Slow Cooker Meat Stew
2 lbs Stew Meat (beef, pork, whatever is on sale), cut into cubes
2 Onions, chopped
5 Carrots, sliced
3 Zucchini, sliced
2 Celery stalks, chopped
6 small Baby Potatoes, washed and cut in half
2 teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon pepper
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 Can (14 oz) Tomatoes
1 Can (8 oz) Tomato Sauce

Put all ingredients in a large zip lock bag and freeze. Thaw bag, add contents to slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours, stirring occasionally.

Serving: 5-6

Slow Cooker Pork Roast with Veggies
1 lb Pork Roast or Tenderloin, cut into ½ inch strips
1 Onion, chopped
1 Green Bell Pepper, sliced
4 Carrots, sliced
½ lb Fresh Mushrooms, sliced
1 Can (8 oz) Tomato Sauce
1 ½ Tablespoons Apple Cider Vinegar
1 Teaspoon Salt
2 Teaspoons Worcestershire Sauce

Combine all ingredients in a large zip lock bag, freeze. Thaw contents of bag, place in crock pot and cook on low for 6-8 hours. Serve hot over steamed rice.

Servings: 5-6

Teriyaki Chicken Rice Bowls
1 ½ Cups Cooked Chicken (Costco Rotisserie Cooked Breast meat works well)
3 Cups Cooked Long Grain White Rice
1 ½ Cups Frozen Mixed Vegetables (Broccoli, Carrots, Cauliflower – whatever blend you like)
1 Bottle Teriyaki Glaze (or home-made)

Steam rice and allow to cool to room temperature. Divide rice between 3 freezer-proof bowls with fitted lids. Divide chicken among bowls. Top chicken with vegetables. Pour glaze over vegetables, toss to blend. Seal bowls and freeze. Warm in microwave, about 6-8 minutes, stirring mid-way through.

Author: Rosemarie's Kitchen

I'm a wife, mother, grandmother and avid home cook.I believe in eating healthy whenever possible, while still managing to indulge in life's pleasures.

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