In the comments thread on Monday , the topic of frozen dinners came up. Although I relied heavily on the small-size frozen mac-and-cheese and frozen lasagnes that winter after my brother died, for the most part, the weird gumminess of frozen dinners freaks me out.
Yesterday was one of those days — I had a couple of appointments over in Bozeman in the morning and then I just never really caught up. So at six, I found myself staring into the fridge wondering what I was going to eat. I didn’t want leftover lamb and white bean stew, and although I’d thawed a piece of antelope, it was one of those nights where searing a small steak just seemed like far too much work. So I took a look in the freezer — meatloaf? Meatloaf was an idea …
I’ve written about this recipe before — it’s from Mario Batali’s Molto Italiano, a cookbook I adore — everything in it is easy, and delicious, and most important, the recipes work. This is kind of complicated for a meatloaf recipe, but it’s really yummy and it makes a very large meatloaf. Last time I made it, I had a lot left over, so I did what I often do with leftovers, and froze them in individual portions.
This meant that staring into my freezer on a blinky Tuesday night, I had a single portion of frozen meatloaf, and a bag full of cooked greens from my garden that I’d also frozen in single portions last summer. I pulled out one mystery hockey puck of frozen veg — turned out it was roma beans cooked long and slow with a little bacon, one of the delicious surprises of last summer’s garden. I plopped them both in a dish, covered the dish with foil, pulled out a small potato and poked some holes in it. Into the toaster oven it all went at 350 for about an hour while I went downstairs to my writing office and tried to get a little work done.
An hour later, I had dinner in a bowl. Meatloaf. Green beans. A baked potato.
If you’re not cooking at all yet, this might seem daunting, but if you’re a person who does cook, it really doesn’t take a lot of time to freeze things in the kind of portions that will save you on those evenings when you stand there looking into a full refrigerator thinking “there’s nothing to eat.”