I love cooking and freezing meals so that I have them on those days when I just don’t feel like cooking. I typically have spent a big chunk of my summers stocking my freezer with all kinds of yummy things: gumbo, chicken noodle soup, enchiladas, lasagna, chicken pot pie, and all kinds of casseroles.
But since we’ve been eating plant-based, I was at a loss. Most of my freezer meal standards are full of meat or chicken or cheese. And we don’t eat that way anymore.
But I really needed to have those stand-by meals, so I started looking for some. Pinterest is, of course, a great place to look. I found lots of recipes there, but I found that I needed to modify most of them to suit my family’s tastes and preferences.
This one was supposed to be a freezer meal. You put all of the raw ingredients into a big gallon ZipLoc and freeze it. Then, on the night before you want to cook it, you thaw it in the refrigerator. It won’t thaw completely, but it will thaw enough for you to sort of squeeze it into your slow cooker the next morning.
I spent a weekend assembling several bags of freezer meals for the slow cooker. I’m an obsessive list maker, so this was one of the pages of my notebook on the night before my big assembly weekend:
Title in black. Ingredients in green. Directions (to be written on the bag) in blue.
Aren’t Flair pens just the best?
I had already assembled most of these recipes and stowed them in our big, outside freezer, when something happened (I have no idea now what it was, but SOMETHING pulled me away from what I was doing) and I didn’t get to finish with the rest of the bags.
The next day, I was all set to finish up, when Michael asked, “Do you know what we’re having for dinner tonight?”
It was only eight in the morning, but in our house, this is not an unusual question. One of the kids can be eating breakfast and will ask what we’ve having for lunch or dinner.
I decided to use the ingredients I was planning to assemble into a bag and cook dinner. So I chose this one.
Like the other recipes, I had enough ingredients to double it and make two bags. So I decided to go ahead and make a double batch in the slow cooker. I put everything in, set it on low, and let it cook all day while I finished bagging up the rest of the meals.
Michael was skeptical when I told him the name of the recipe, but I assured him that he would like it.
African Peanut Lentil Stew
- 1-2 tablespoons of finely-minced garlic
- 1 softball-sized onion, diced
- 2 cups of diced carrots
- 2 red bell peppers, seeded and diced
- 1 4-can of tomato paste
- 1 cup of creamy peanut butter
- 1 15-oz. can of coconut milk
- 2 cups of dried lentils
- 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 4 cups of vegetable stock
Add all to a slow cooker and cook on low for 6-8 hours – or all day. Stir before serving. Add more stock if you feel stew of too thick. Serve over rice.
Well Duh #1: This stew is not the consistency of American stews. Ours are usually like a really thick soup. This is more…porridge? in consistency.
Well Duh #2: If you want to make this a freezer meal, just put all of the raw ingredients into a big ZipLoc bag (this will actually fill TWO!), label the bag with the instructions, and freeze it. When you’re ready to cook, thaw overnight in the fridge, squeeze into your slow cooker, and follow the cooking directions above.
Well Duh #3: Don’t forget to write the date on your bag. This will be fine up to six months in the freezer.
Well Duh #4: I had plenty left over. I froze it (with leftover rice on the bottom) in individual servings. I used these freezer containers which I love because they are great for a single serving:
Well Duh #5: I garnished the top of my serving with a little sprinkle of za’taar. It’s a Middle Eastern spice blend that is FANTASTIC! I use it on hummus, on salads, on lots of stuff! I ordered mine from Amazon. Here’s a link to help you find it:
I just had one of these containers for lunch. It has been about a month since I froze it. I had to add a little water because the rice had absorbed some of the moisture from the stew, but it was still delicious! I bought it to school with me and I just left it out on my counter until lunch and then popped it in the microwave for 3 minutes.
Michael LOVED this! And even though my kids aren’t eating plant-based anymore, they both loved it, too! It is creamy and delicious and the flavors are not spicy, but are warm and just…different. You really don’t taste the peanut butter, so don’t worry about it being too overpowering. It does, however, give the stew a really creamy texture and velvety mouth-feel.
If you’re looking to kick up your meal rotation with something that’s a little different from your average fare, this may be just what you’re looking for!