With more restaurants closing their doors, Americans everywhere are being encouraged to stay in and prepare their own meals. And while normally a home-cooked dinner could be based around day-of purchases and perishable produce, now it makes more sense to concoct a delicious dish that keeps for days, weeks, and even months.
That’s the specialty of the New York-based Ipsa Provisions, a recently launched gourmet frozen food delivery company. Founded by alumni of Chipotle and Gramercy Tavern, it serves up delicious dishes like Moroccan braised chicken, ragu bolognese, beef and kimchi stew with Korean rice cakes, chicken pot pie, and more meals that can be reheated in roughly 30 minutes, and stay good in the freezer for up to a year.
Their business model was meant for busy New Yorkers—they note that 80 percent the country still doesn’t know what they’re eating for dinner at 4 p.m. the day of—but, with the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s applicable to well, everyone, especially those who don’t want to risk a trip to the grocery store. Although they only deliver in Manhattan and Brooklyn, Chef Micah Fredman has shared his best tips on how to shop and prepare a meal that’ll keep. “During this time of social distancing and self-quarantine, you should be using your freezer as a tool to keep yourself and your loved ones healthy and sane,” he says. “Meals can be a source of simple comfort in these anxious times.”
Embrace a one-pot shop.
“If it can be cooked in one big pot, it will likely freeze well. Think of dishes like a hearty stew, brothy soup, slow braise, or pasta sauce. Because the liquid is distributed more or less evenly throughout these types of dishes, they tend to hold up really well in the freezer,” Fredman says. “There is a melding that happens in these slow simmered dishes that makes them prime candidates for the freezer.”
Learn how to work with frozen vegetables.
“Consider those bags of frozen vegetables to be part of the recipe, but not the meal itself,” Fredman advises. “Frozen peas may taste bland on their own, but when added to a soup or simple pasta sauce, they can be transformative. Don’t bother with defrosting them first, as the water that drains contains a lot of the flavor. It’s the easiest way to eat fresh produce if you’re short on raw vegetables or worried about food waste in the fridge.”
Save time—and space—by filling your freezer with main courses.
“When your freezer is stocked with pre-cooked mains, the hard work is taken care of. Save the precious freezer real estate for the centerpiece of a meal, then use ingredients from your refrigerator (like fresh herbs, or leafy greens) and pantry to build side dishes around it,” he says. “Use fresh produce to add a finishing touch of acidity and crispiness, something the beloved freezer cannot provide. You’ll end up prepping fewer ingredients and cleaning half the dishes.”
Use smart, flexible storage bags.