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Take-out is expensive and not really that great for you. Fortunately, it is really easy to make at home — especially with frozen ingredients that you can assemble, portion, and freeze ahead of time.
For the past few years I’ve made these make-and-freeze bagged meals. These are similar to ones that you can buy in the frozen section at the store, but customizable with the quantities and ingredients that you want to include. They’re also cheaper and healthier, in many cases, since you know exactly what you’re putting into them and can add the sauce later to your taste.
My two favorite meals to make are veggie stir-fry with soy chicken (or “fake chicken,” as my family likes to call it) and shrimp with broccoli. I combine all of the ingredients, sans sauce, in a bowl and use a cup measure to portion into quart- or gallon-sized freezer bags, mark with the number of servings, and pop in the freezer. They’re very simple to assemble, and even quicker to heat up and serve. Here’s how I make them.
Soy Chicken Stir-fry with Vegetables
Makes approximately 5-6 quart-sized zip-lock bags, 1-2 servings per bag.
Three 16oz bags of Bird’s Eye Asian vegetable medley (shredded blend of vegetables like carrots, snap peas, and water chestnuts)
One 16oz bag of Quorn soy chicken cubes
Shrimp with Broccoli
Makes approximately 3-4 quart sized zip-lock bags, 1-2 servings per bag.
One 16oz bag of frozen, medium-sized peeled and uncooked shrimp
One 20oz bag of frozen broccoli florets
2 fresh carrots, sliced on the bias
1 cup of edamame
How to Assemble
Mix all ingredients in a big bowl and portion into plastic freezer bags. To make portioning easier, you can weigh your bags or use a cup measure to make sure they are relatively equally-sized (I generally just ballpark it.)
When finished portioning, squeeze out as much air as possible from the bags, then seal and label them. Stack the bags on top of one another horizontally in your freezer so they freeze flat and take up less space.
How to Cook and Eat
It’s not necessary to thaw these in advance. Just take one out of the freezer, dump it into a microwavable steamer container or place in a dish and poke a few holes in the bag (essentially creating a pouch that will steam the food, like the steamable vegetable pouches that you can buy in the store), and cook for 4-5 minutes or until heated through.
A topping of low-sodium soy sauce or a squirt of sriracha is quick and easy, which is what I generally put on my shrimp with broccoli. Try one of these combos if you want something a little fancier:
- Sesame-ginger: In a bowl, combine 2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce, 1 tsp each of finely-minced ginger and garlic, 1 tsp each sesame oil and rice wine vinegar, and 1 tsp sesame seeds
- Sweet-heat: 2 tablespoons sweet chili sauce mixed with a squirt of Sriracha (or as much as you want, to your level of heat preference)
- Thai peanut sauce: My favorite for the soy chicken stir-fry. Ina Garten’s recipe is my go-to, with a few tweaks. I like to freeze a big batch of this and thaw as needed. Ice cube trays are good for portioning and freezing sauce, too, and you can add a few cubes to the food while it is cooking to save time.
Drain any excess water that collects in the container or bag before adding any sauce so it’s not too runny. Serve with rice or noodles, or eat plain.