Make-Ahead meals for college student?

khandiSeptember 9, 2010

Hi, my daughter is in college and I'd like to make some meals that she can just defrost and reheat for the days where she has class until 7:30 pm and doesn't have time to cook. She's tired of stir-frys, salads, and wraps! lol

Some stuff that I'm making and freezing for her:




-pre-cooked bacon she can just reheat in microwave

-homemade beans

-she has assorted veggies frozen to make soups and frozen fruits for smoothies

I'm thinking more of the lines of making her stuff like:

- chicken or beef pot pies

- homemade chicken fingers (semi-cooked?)

- sheppard's pie (with beef) but I've tried freezing this dish and it turned out all watery for some reason. Is it freezable??

- she's not a pasta/lasagna lover at all

Can you slice up and precook beef slices or chicken for stir fry where she can just take out one package of the meat to put in refrigerator in morning, then stir fry some of her frozen veggies with the meat with a sauce while rice is cooking? What type of sauce?

Can you freeze mashed potatoes without them getting too watery?

She loves Greek food (except for black olives). Can I make Greek meatballs with rice and freeze that? How would it be reheated in microwave?

Any suggestions would help! I don't really freeze ready-made foods.


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I suggest

Stuffed peppers
Minestrone soup
Any sliced pre cooked meats, chicken, beef or pork- great for sandwiches, fajitas or omelets.
Twice baked potatoes made with anything she likes, onions, bacon, cheese etc.
I really like a baked potato with basically a salad on top- lettuce and tomato, add bacon, grated cheese, sausage and anything else...salad dressing and you have a meal.


    Bookmark   September 9, 2010 at 7:37PM
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Is this stuff at your house or are you taking it to her dorm/apartment for her to cook?
If at your home, why not let her just eat what you eat? but later and warmed up?
Doesn't she have options for a meal plan? Two of my 3 college grand kids do....the 3rd one cooks for himself or eats out. He has learned to be a pretty darn good cook....cooks burgers fish shrimp etc on the grill and stir fries assorted veggies.
How about instead of heat and eat meals 6you just make sure she has a freezer full of stuff that is easy to cook? I keep individually frozen chicken tenders, small packages of salmon fillet, little skinny loin pork chops, hamburgers....and frozen shrimp. You could make some home made seasoned bread crumbs and she could roll the meat in that and pop into a hot fry pan. A salad or some frozen veggies and she will have a meal faster than heating up something like a frozen pot pie

    Bookmark   September 9, 2010 at 8:03PM
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Mashed potatoes don't freeze well. They become watery. Hence your watery shepherds pie. Whole baked potatoes are all right though.

Slip however many pieces of cooked meat(roast, chicken etc.) she needs for a meal into a sandwich bag and then put the bags in a plastic container and seal with a lid. She can take out a package and defrost for a meal and leave the rest.

Yes you can freeze meatballs with rice or without. I make my meatballs in large batches on a cookie sheet in the oven and freeze what I need for a meal in individual freezer bags. Then put the bags in a container. They can be used several ways. In sweet and sour sauce, gravy or pasta sauce.

When my son went to University and was rooming with a bunch of guys, I made him a recipe book with a binder and page protectors that I slipped the recipes in. They were easy recipes that I knew he'd like. Most were ones I had made at home, but others were ones I had given to me. All the guys used that book at some time or other.

I also sent with him a few basic spices. If she likes stir fry don't forget to add some soy sauce.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2010 at 8:28PM
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She lives in residence townhouse with 5 other girls.
She has her own fridge in her bedroom and shares the freezer section of the big fridge in the kitchen.
Saw her Wednesday and couldn't believe the food that the girls had in the big fridge and on the counter...baskets of fruits, veggies, etc. So much so that there was no room on counter to cook...not to mention sink full of dirty dishes! It's 10-minute walk to grocery store so there really is no need for so much food at once. My daughter will buy lets say 2 apples and 3 bananas for the week. I understand though that u would need a little more during those very cold winter days! When I opened the big fridge door, I was shocked to see it so full and nothing falling out. It's a shame there will be so much food waste. The kitchen is SO CLUTTERED with food all over the place, it's actually gross. My daughter said they filled the cupboards with food, the freezer, and the fridge that's it's too out of hand. You'd think they'd know to respect the others' need for food storage/space since this isn't their first time living in residence. (My daughter is first year living with older girls that are in their 2nd and 3rd year.)

My daughter and one of the girls have agreed to share certain things like stir fry ingredients and take turns cooking it to avoid spoilage, etc.

For a week, there was only my daughter and 2 other girls living there and everything was working out great. They worked as a team to keep the place clean and respected that there was only so much room for food and stuff. Now that the other 3 girls showed up, she said everything is out of hand. They don't care and it's getting out of control. Now she only washes her dishes and keeps her food in her fridge in her room. So I don't blame her for wanting ready made foods she can just heat up because of the kitchen issues!

Her and another girl are also the only ones that have bought cleaning supplies. She said she wouldn't live in residence again because she just can't live like that! LOL Oh well...she's having a life experience! I told her to give it time. Maybe dishes will get done when they run out of clean ones..hahaha... and wait to see what happens when the Residence Advisor makes their monthly cleaning inspections.

I gave her a whole bunch of spices and stuff for her to cook with that she's experimented with the first week and found out she actually enjoys cooking...even with tofu! And she loves her smoothies!

    Bookmark   September 9, 2010 at 8:40PM
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Thanks Oilpainter!

I think that I will do what u said about small meat packages in container. Would save her time and would also help her with her "uneasiness" about handling raw chicken/meat LOL

    Bookmark   September 9, 2010 at 8:45PM
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These are easy and always popular:

1 can corn
1 cqn black beans
1 can diced tomatoes
2 chicken breasts, diced and cooked
1 bag shredded cheddar
1 package large size flour tortillas

In a colandar, mix together corn, beans and tomatoes. Drain well. Add the cheese and the cooled chicken. Place 1/3 (ish) cup on a warmed tortilla. Roll up. Place all rolled burritos on a cookie sheet and freeze for an hour or so. Now place semi frozen burritos in zip loc bags.
To cook, either place in 350 oven for 30 min or so, or microwave for 2 minutes. Serve with salsa or guacamole or sour cream (or all three).


    Bookmark   September 9, 2010 at 9:28PM
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For one thing, how about a pack of decent quality paper plates? Then she doesn't need to get near the sink full of other people's dirty dishes! :D Yeah, it's wasteful, but might help her keep her temper with the other girls she must live with.

Hearty soups are great quick meals for students. Healthy, and all you need are some crackers or bread and a salad if you're feeling like you've got more time. Split pea, Minestrone, chunky chicken, vegetable beef, etc. If you put single servings in zip lock bags (freeze them flat, with all the air pushed out) or those stacking freezer containers, they can be left out to defrost or just zapped in a microwave. A lot better than much of the carp I ate in college from vending machines!

    Bookmark   September 10, 2010 at 4:06AM
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Squares of polenta wrapped in individual serving sizes to be browned in a bit of butter straight from the freezer. (Note: Alton Brown's polenta recipe is the best!) Stuffed green peppers. Mashed potatoes made from a recipe which includes cream cheese, milk, a bit of butter and sour cream freeze well and do not become watery. All types of soup, of course. Sliced meats for stir fry. Homemade pot pies. Quiche can be frozen in individual servings. Stews of all types.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2010 at 8:04AM
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Get her a couple of giant packages of ramen noodles.
And know that part of the college education is learning how to get along with others.
I suggest that the older students are the ones who have learned how to manage....they fill the place with fruits, grab an apple for breakfast and put a banana in your pocket for lunch...have a carrot or 2 after classes and munch on crackers and apples until about 10 PM when you run out and grab a burger!

Mom's are not meant to be looking at their college kid's kitchens!

    Bookmark   September 10, 2010 at 11:02AM
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I was thinking the same thing.

Khandi, I'm assuming that your daughter is not really "Away" at college but living close enough to home that you can still look out for her?

As much as I understand wanting to look after your baby, I'd pretend that she left home and went to a Unversity in another province. Maybe one in Montreal or even Halifax. To far a way for you to see what goes on on a daily basis. My guess is she won't starve. Rather than make-ahead-meals, send her some of your/her favourite easy recipes.


    Bookmark   September 10, 2010 at 11:22AM
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I'm glad my kid is in Florida and I'm in Southern California. Khandi--you're a sweetheart, but she can figure out her own meals.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2010 at 12:04PM
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Alice, 18, leaves for college in three days. She will live in a dorm and has a meal plan (mandatory for freshmen) so she won't starve. She chose a plan with some discretionary dollars for her own grocery shopping. There is a kitchen down the hall and they have a small frig in the room. Alice has been ferreting out her own meals for a while anyway. She likes to cook for herself and is the queen of eggs with stuff. She often does her own grocery shopping even while still at home.

(She likes it when I cook and leave things in the frig like hard boiled eggs, sliced up grilled steak or chicken, and poached salmon. She adds these to salads. Easy, fast. But I won't be doing that from 4 hours away!)

    Bookmark   September 10, 2010 at 12:25PM
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