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Meals that Freeze - Helping a Friend in Need

Helping my friend who is having surgery after cancer treatment and will be out of commission for a month. Her husband will have a lot on his plate in helping her and will need meals that can be heated in the oven as they don't have a microwave. Along the way, she has had to have her gall bladder removed so it trying to eat cleaner. Can this wonderful community help with ideas for meals to freeze? I have seen previous posts that include lasagna and soups. We live in Atlanta so summers are hot! Would love additional ideas to help my friend. Thanks so much!

asked by pianogirl 5 months ago
13 answers 503 views
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added 5 months ago

First, healing thoughts to your friend, and thanks to you for being so thoughtful!
what popped onto my head per your request were Greek foods, which tend to be more vegetable-based and can be served hot or at room temperature.
Spanakopita (spinach pie) freezes well unbaked, and once baked, can be eaten cold. Same dish can be made with shredded zucchini. Use a low fat feta, and do a light spritz of cooking spray (or quick brush of olive oil) between the filo layers instead of butter.
Dips like hummus and baba ganoush also freeze well, and when it's hot, we can make a meal out of it with some whole grain crackers, carrots, cukes, and peppers for dipping...don't feel like eating more.
The base for cold soups can be frozen ahead too-- my mom makes a cream of sorrel soup which is just cooked sorrel blended with chicken or veggie broth. Freeze. When reheating gently, whisk in some cultured low fat buttermilk or Greek yogurt. Can serve warm or chill at this point. Could probably do the same with spinach, carrots and turmeric, zucchini and dill, broccoli, etc.
And then my college fallback--quiche. Add any veggies, herbs, meats, cheeses (use low fat milk or yogurt for the custard), bake until set, cut into wedges but store in the pie tin, wrap and freeze. He can then take out as many pieces as they will eat at a sitting and reheat gently in the oven.
Hope this helps!

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added 5 months ago

Just to piggy back on your spanakopita suggestion, I've made little spanakopita triangles before and frozen them individually. That way they can pull out what they need, and they only take about 15 minutes in a hot oven to heat up. Just take your favorite recipe, and instead of doing it in one big pie, cut the phillo into long strips, fill with a healthy amount of filling, and fold up like a flag. I usually only do 2 layers of phillo or so, since you are folding it all up.

I've also made turkey meatloaf with mozzarella and spinach (you can replace up to half the meat with finely chopped mushrooms without too much change to taste or texture), lentil soup, and chicken/potato bakes (this recipe with par-cooked potatos swapped for the pasta and lots of broccoli added: https://www.alexandracooks...).

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Susan W

Susan W is a trusted source on General Cooking.

added 5 months ago

You can freeze most anything. I'd find out what she and her family would like to eat and figure out how to freeze it. Some things fare better when frozen uncooked. They would simply need to defrost and cook it. Other things may suffer a little if frozen, but it's worth it for the convenience.

Eating clean is very subjective. What I consider eating clean may differ from what they consider eating clean.

Am I wrong in my memory or is it not fat she needs to avoid with gall bladder issues. I had a personal chef client who had Celiac and loss of gall bladder and I remember vaguely that I had to be very careful about fat content.

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Pegeen

Pegeen is a trusted home cook.

added 5 months ago



A quick search on the excellent Mayo Clinic web site turned up this article on post-gallbladder surgery diets. It sounds like you’re already aware that a low-fat, high-fiber diet is recommended, but according to this particular article, fiber should not be increased too fast.

http://www.mayoclinic.org...

Fiber could be introduced through oatmeal, cereals, grains. So perhaps some new dishes like quinoa, barley or brown rice salads. (A search on “quinoa” on this site will yield dozens of great recipes but you may want to avoid the ones with cheese because of the fat content. Your friend’s husband can quickly reheat grain dishes in a frying pan or in the oven.)

But it all depends on how she is doing post-op, how much of an appetite, etc. Maybe plain instant oatmeal, for additional fiber, might be all she can handle gastro-wise, in the beginning – you will have to wait and see. To facilitate making oatmeal and soothing herbal teas (hot or cold), consider getting them an electric tea kettle, since they don’t have a microwave. There are very inexpensive models and it will be a big time-saver for him. Maybe a good Rubbermaid jug for cold teas, and a couple good tumblers with spill-proof lids and built-in straws for when she is still in bed – more than one tumbler, so her husband doesn’t have to worry about washing up and re-using just one. (In my experience, it’s these little things that make a big difference!)

Some hospitals have excellent dietary counseling for various post-surgical situations, so you may want to check with the hospital where her surgery will be performed on any literature or support they can give you for your friend’s post-surgical diet. And of course check with her M.D., especially since she has undergone chemo and she may have dietary recommendations related to that.

Best of luck to your friend and her husband, and to you for being such a good friend. Post-surgery is a stressful time and they will be so grateful for your efforts.

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QueenSashy

QueenSashy is a trusted home cook.

added 5 months ago

Pianogirl, my thoughts are with your friend and I wish her fast recovery.

Here are some of my favorite dishes from the site (and beyond) that freeze well. I tried to include light and healthy dishes with fiber and veggies, and perhaps lean meats, that are appropriate for post-gallbladder surgery diet. Most of the dishes can be served cold or slightly warm. As a matter of fact, almost all of them can be defrosted overnight in the fridge.

Ratatouille
https://food52.com/recipes...

Sauteed Corn, Green Onions, and Shiitake Mushrooms https://food52.com/recipes...

Stuffed Vegetables
http://www.foodnetwork...

Swiss Chard Moussaka
http://www.threelittlehalves...

Quinoa and Faro Salad
https://food52.com/recipes...

Farro Salad with Roasted Mushrooms
https://food52.com/recipes...

Slow Roasted Tomatoes and Farro
https://food52.com/recipes...

Gaspaczo
http://www.foodnetwork...

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added 5 months ago

I forgot to add in my stuffed Moorish zucchini recipe and my recipe for lecso (I'm on a mobile device and pasting in the links is being wonky today). Both are here on Food52. I have frozen both successfully. The zukes have been frozen both before and after baking. For the lecso, the texture will be softer and more stewed but still tasty. I would serve it with grilled chicken breast on the side (freeze them separately) and rice or Italian bread.

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BerryBaby

BerryBaby is trusted source on General Cooking

added 5 months ago

Our family has had a few cases of gall bladders being removed. I'd check with her about diet restrictions as it takes a while before you can eat 'whatever'.

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added 5 months ago

My biggest suggestion is to add more umami-y ingredients than you would otherwise. This can help with coaxing an appetite out of those who otherwise have none, especially since it seems the consensus is that you will be limiting fats as much as possible. Ingredients with lots of glutamates/umami include tomato paste, dried mushrooms, seaweed, Worcheshire sauce, soy sauce, miso paste etc.

A cold soup idea would be to make gazpacho but Instead of simply blending raw tomaotes, use roasted cherry/grape tomatoes (the glutamates are in the skin and seeds). Slice them in half (or dice romas if you prefer) then toss with miso paste and some soy sauce roast for 30-40 minutes at 375 and then use that to make a gaspacho. The tomatoes can also be made in big batched, brought down to room temp then frozen in single servings. They are great defrosted to toss with room temp. pesto pasta, greens, or top rice and canned tuna.

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creamtea

Lisanne is a trusted home cook.

added 5 months ago

Besides the excellent advice of other members who posted, I'd check with her and her husband for likes and dislikes, and try to get an idea of what foods will be tolerated and how soon after surgery. Also, find out if ingredients like tomatoes, acid, spices etc., will be irritating or ok. Is low salt a priority? My family and I really like this quiche-like recipe from longtime member inpatskitchen and have made it several times: https://food52.com/recipes....

I also love the idea of using an electric kettle to make oatmeal. Bob's Red Mill Instant Oatmeal is really delicious, without all the additives and spices of commercial oatmeals--we always bring it on vacation because we follow a limited diet; we add fruit, either fresh or freeze-dried, honey and nuts. It's delicious.

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added 5 months ago

Would you consider asking husband about a gift of a smallish, basic microwave to help get meals on the table? This certainly sounds to me like a situation where one would be a tremendous help. They start new for a pretty modest price and then there are garage sales, craigslist or salvation army sources. They can always donate in turn to some group if they want it out of the house later on.

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PHIL

PHIL is a trusted home cook.

added 5 months ago

Pulled pork or pulled chicken (lower fat) freezes really well and you can portion it out. Bell & Evans makes frozen fully cooked chicken burgers that cook up quickly Turkey meatball are easy to make and freeze well and you can make a big batch and take them out as needed.

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BerryBaby

BerryBaby is trusted source on General Cooking

added 5 months ago

I recall most foods after family gall bladder surgery were pretty bland or Liquid drinks.

50e6ebd3 b4c9 4d51 bd5e 1163afa4ba06  2013wreath
BerryBaby

BerryBaby is trusted source on General Cooking

added 5 months ago

I recall most foods after family gall bladder surgery were pretty bland or Liquid drinks.