I used to admire the idea of using leftovers to make a "new" meal. Say you make a roast chicken one night. Then the next night, you don't eat leftover roast chicken - instead you take the leftovers and make chicken soup or chicken enchiladas. A beautiful idea, but I have had trouble putting it into action. And let's face it: even though you are using leftovers, you are still making an entirely new meal. So you aren't saving as much work as you first thought.
Lately I have been doing the following, and I love it. When I make a meal, I make the full recipe (4+ servings). But I only cook half and put the other half in the freezer. A week or two later, I can take those leftovers out, thaw and cook, and have a meal with relatively little effort. I know, the domestic goddesses out there probably perfected this idea a month after freezers were invented, but it's new to me.
Here are the meals I've had success with. Well actually, these are the meals I've used for this technique. I haven't run into any failures yet.
- Chicken Pot Pie. Instead of baking the full recipe in an 8x8 Pyrex dish, I cook about half in a Pyrex that's about 8x5, and I put the rest into two large ramekins with plastic lids, crust and all.
- Meatloaf. I mix up a full pound of meat mixture. I put half in a 1.5 pint Pyrex loaf dish/refrigerator dish and put the second half, raw, into a freezer bag to freeze.
- Vegetable Soup. I make up a double batch of my favorite Tuscan Vegetable Soup (which barely fits in my big soup pot). I freeze six to eight pint-sized wide mouth canning jars, leaving about 1/2 inch air at the top. The canning jars I bought actually say Freezer Safe on the box.
- Broccoli and cheese Soup. Same as above.
- Stuffed Peppers. I mix up the meat mixture for about 4 servings, which starts with about a pound of beef. Then I freeze about half of it in a pint-sized wide mouth canning jar - which is enough for two really big stuffed peppers.