For those of you who are like me and like to be prepared for the rest of the week, here’s a recipe you can freeze and save for a later date so you can be a little less stressed over cooking a healthy meal. This meal is good frozen up to a week.
Freeze Me Stir Fry
Each batch makes 1 frozen stir-fry dinner and serves 2 people; multiply these ingredients as needed for the number of dinners you plan to make
For the stir-fry base:
1/2 cup uncooked white or brown rice
3/4 to 1 pound chicken breasts or thighs (substitute pork, beef, or tofu)
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1 bay leaf
1 bell pepper (or other vegetable, equal to 1 cup chopped)
1 cup sugar snap peas (or other vegetable, equal to 1 cup chopped)
For the stir-fry sauce:
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons dry sherry
2 tablespoons water, chicken broth, or vegetable broth
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon cornstarch, optional for a thicker sauce
To prepare the frozen meal:
2- to 4-quart pot
Freezer bags or containers
Large skillet or wok (non-stick is ok)
- Prepare the rice: Prepare the rice according to its package directions. When done, spread the rice on a baking sheet to cool, then transfer to freezer bag or container. Refrigerate until ready to freeze with the other ingredients.
- Poach the Chicken: Place the chicken in a pot and add the garlic and bay leaf. Cover the chicken with a few inches of water. Bring to a full boil over medium-high heat, then turn the heat to low, cover the pot, and let the chicken simmer until cooked through and the interior registers 165°F on an instant-read thermometer, 10 to 13 minutes depending on the thickness of the chicken.→ Pork or beef can also be poached in this manner. You can also cook the meat on the stovetop or grill — cook until just barely cooked through. Tofu does not need to be pre-cooked.
- Slice the Chicken: Cut the chicken into thick slices, then cut each slice into bite-sized pieces. Make sure that the pieces are as uniform in shape and thickness as possible.
- Transfer the Chicken to the Baking Sheet: Line the baking sheet with parchment and lay the chicken in a single layer over 1/3 of the baking sheet (leave room for the vegetables). Some overlapping is ok, but avoid big clumps of chicken. If needed, lay a second sheet of parchment over the first layer of chicken and lay the remaining chicken on top.
- Prepare the Vegetables: Slice the pepper (or other vegetables) into bite-sized pieces. Trim the ends from the sugar snap peas.
- Transfer the Vegetables to the Baking Sheet: Arrange the vegetables in a single layer over the remaining space on the baking sheet. Some overlapping is ok, but avoid big clumps. If needed, lay a second sheet of parchment over the first layer of vegetables and lay the remaining vegetables on top.
- Freeze Until Solid: Freeze the vegetables and chicken until solid, at least 4 hours or overnight.
- Package the Ingredients into Freezer Bags: Place the frozen chicken in one bag and the frozen vegetables in a second bag. Make sure to press as much air out of the bags as possible. Alternately, vacuum-seal the ingredients.→ Tool Tip: If you don’t have a vacuum-sealer, the best way to get the most air out of a plastic bag is to add the ingredients, partially close the top, then suck out the remaining air with a straw.
- Prepare the Sauce: Whisk together the ingredients for the sauce, then pour it into a freezer bag. Press out as much air as possible before closing and make sure the bag doesn’t have any holes or leaks.
- Package the Stir-Fry Dinner Together: Place the bags of chicken, vegetables, rice, and sauce in a large plastic bag or freezer container. Print or write out the Preparation Instructions (below) and place in the bag. Press out as much air as possible before sealing.
- Freeze for Up to 3 Months: These freezer meals are best eaten with in a few months. Unless vacuum-sealed, the ingredients will gradually start to develop freezer burn.
- Heat Up the Stir-Fry Meal for Dinner: Follow these instructions for assembling the final dish, which will take about 10 to 15 minutes.
To Heat Up & Serve the Frozen Stir-Fry Meal
Defrost Sauce: Remove the stir-fry dinner from the freezer. Place the sauce in a bowl of hot tap water to thaw.
Heat Rice: Transfer the rice to a microwave-safe container, cover loosely, and heat for 2 minutes. If not fully warmed, continue heating in 30 second bursts until warm. Keep covered and set aside. Alternatively, the frozen rice can be added to the skillet with the vegetables.
Cook the Chicken: Warm 2 teaspoons of oil in a large skillet (like a cast-iron skillet) or a wok over medium-high heat. When the oil is warm, add the frozen chicken. Spread the chicken into a single layer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the chicken develops golden spots and is warmed through, 4 to 6 minutes.
Add the Vegetables: Add the frozen vegetables to the skillet with the chicken. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are hot and crisp-tender, 3 to 5 minutes.
Mix with the Sauce: Pour the warmed sauce over the chicken and vegetables. Stir until the sauce is thickened and coats all the ingredients, about 1 minute.
Serve: Serve the stir-fry over rice. Leftovers will keep refrigerated for up to a week.