My friend has asked me to cook for him as he works very long days and has taken to eating junk when he gets in of an evening. He has asked me to cook 5 meals each week for him that can go in the freezer and he takes out each morning for dinner that night. I usually cook fresh so feel a little out of my league here - coujld you help me please!!
Nigella now tries to give freezing directions in her books and Kitchen and Christmas both have freezing advice where the dishes are suitable for freezing. Many meals will freeze well at home, but slower cooked stews and soups are particularly good as they have plenty of liquid to cover the meat (reducing the risk of "freezer burn" and also tend to reheat very well - often tasting better on reheating. Items like shepherd's pie and fish pie (omit boiled eggs if in the recipe as they do not freeze well) can be frozen fully assembled and then defrosted in the fridge for 24 hours before being baked (check they are piping hot in the centre before serving). And you can freeze individual portions of stew or braised meat (beef, chicken, fish or pork) and mashed potatoes. Potatoes will look slightly separated when they have thawed but give them a good stir when they are reheated (in the microwave or a saucepan) and they should come back together again. You can freeze cooked rice but we would suggest caution here as rice is quite a high risk item for food poisoning - it needs to be cooled and chilled quickly and when reheated you must check that it is piping hot before serving. Supermarkets now sell pouches of ready-cooked rice which can be reheated quickly in the microwave and may be preferable.
Single portion-sized freezer to oven dishes are useful for pies etc. Freeze the pie unwrapped until firm then wrap in a double layer of clingfilm (plastic wrap) and a layer of foil. Stews etc can be frozen in appropriate-sized airtight containers. All foods should be cooled and chilled as quickly as possible (within 2 hours of cooking) before freezing and should be reheated until piping hot. Most items will freeze well for up to 3 months so stews etc can be divided into individual portions. Also remember to label each with the contents and a use by date.