I know a lot of people like to cook ahead and have a stash of prepared meals in their freezers. I prefer to have building blocks of meals, giving me the ultimate flexibility. I might boil or brown a few pounds of hamburger at a time, then freeze in 2 cup portions. I can then later pull out a package for spaghetti sauce, tacos, shepherd’s pie, or chili and skip the whole browning step. I freeze some meats in marinades so that I can pull out a package and let it defrost, then cook it without having to mix up any marinades. This works great for flank steak, chicken, pork tenderloins, and more. I almost always have some cooked beans and some soups in there as well, also chicken broth in 1, 2 and 4 cup portions.
Tonight I concocted a “freshly cooked” meal from my freezer. Over the weekend I had breaded and fried a couple of eggplants and then frozen them. Late last summer I had cooked up a bunch of marinara sauce from the tomatoes in my garden. And at some point a few weeks ago I made garlic bread and frozen half the loaf, all buttered and ready to go. I could have pulled the grated cheese out of the freezer as well, but didn’t tonight.
I defrosted the sauce, actually two smaller packages. One turned out to have some sausage slices in it (whoops! Bad labeling!) but I decided to use it anyway. I layered the eggplant, the sauce, and the cheeses, then baked for 45 minutes. When the eggplant Parmesan was done, I popped the garlic bread in the oven. It was mostly defrosted by this time and heated right up.
This turned out good and the small bit of sausage in there was actually quite excellent, adding just a bit of spice and texture.