Freezing Homemade Lunch Meat and Easy Lunch Ideas

Chicken thighs flavored with herbs, garlic, and lemon peel are thinly sliced for a homemade lunch meat that is also easy to freeze! --- The Nourishing Gourmetv

This herbed and garlicky homemade lunch meat is make en masse, and then frozen for easy and healthy lunches later in the week. Nothing beats homemade lunch meat. It’s so much more flavorful and hearty. Plus, when you compare the cost per pound, you can also save significantly by making your own.

However, I don’t recommend that you make lunch meat every other day. This becomes tiresome at best, and impossible at worst. Instead make a huge batch, and then freeze it to use later in the week. Here’s how I did it (and also check out the easy lunch ideas at the bottom of the post!)

Making and Freezing Homemade Lunch Meat

For the pictured lunchmeat, I used this recipe of mine for Homemade Lunchmeat, except this time I only used the lemon peel (not the lemon juice) and added generous pinches of dried basil, thyme, and oregano for an herbed version. The important thing to remember is that this type of recipe is incredibly flexible! Use what you have on hand. .

Marinating lunchmeat for homemade lunch meat

I marinated the meat for about an hour or two, but you can go even longer – say overnight. Cover it, and mix the chicken around (to make sure all of it is getting marinated) if you are marinating for over an hour.

Then, lay the chicken thighs on a sheet, making sure they don’t touch each other. I used several baking sheets. Cook for about 35 minutes, or until done.

Chicken flavored with lemon peel, garlic, and herbs, straight out of the oven. Used for making your own lunchmeat! --- The Nourishing Gourmet

Let cool for about ten to fifteen minutes, and then place in the refrigerator to chill completely (I piled them all into one large dish for this part). This is so you can thinly slice it. To get really thin slices, you can even freeze it for about 15 minutes.

Chicken thighs flavored with herbs, garlic, and lemon peel are thinly sliced for a homemade lunch meat that is also easy to freeze! --- The Nourishing Gourmetv

Thinly slice.

How to wrap homemade lunch meat for freezing for later. Delicious meat for many days to come!  --- The Nourishing GourmetHow to wrap homemade lunch meat for freezing for later. Delicious meat for many days to come!  --- The Nourishing Gourmet

Separate into how much you want to defrost at a time (I did about ½ a pound for 4 people). I wrapped the chicken in either wax paper, or these little wax baggies; then I put all of it into a freezer bag.

To use, defrost in the refrigerator!

Easy Lunch Ideas

1. Use the above lunch meat in a sandwich or wrap. Pair with sliced cucumbers, lettuce, tomatoes, and spicy mustard. To make it even more flavorful, add a little lacto-fermented sauerkraut.

2. Make a main dish salad using the defrosted lunch meat, chopped olives, tomatoes, and feta cheese. Use this creamy balsamic dressing.

3. Make a big pot of soup (like this Egyptian Lentil Soup with Caramelized Onions) and reheat during the week, as desired. If you want a heartier meal, serve with a small green salad topped with the lunch meat!

4. Make a bento box with the homemade lunch meat, and sides, such as cucumber salad, rice crackers, fruit, and/or some paleo energy bites.

5. Pack in individual lunches, or place on a platter for serving, the following: Sliced cheese, sliced homemade lunch meat, grapes, olives, and sliced bread.

6. Make a creamy sauce (with dairy, or dairy-free) and gently reheat the sliced meat in it to serve over noodles. (Read about some of our favorite gluten free noodles here, and 4 grain free noodle options here).

Other Freezer Meal Ideas

Frozen Mango Lemonade

This super delicious version of frozen lemonade is so refreshing on a hot day! It's fruit and honey sweetened for an all natural treat too. --- The Nourishing Gourmet

By Katie Mae Stanley, Contributing Writer

This treat is simple to make, and so refreshing! It’s also a great way to re-purpose leftover lemonade into a delicious new treat. It only takes 3 ingredients – frozen mangos, lemonade, and a handful of ice. And what is better on a warm spring or summer day than sitting on the porch with a cold drink?

Of course, ice cold lemonade is the perfect solution to cool you off. Many of us are familiar with frozen strawberry lemonade, so it’s about time to try something new, don’t you think? This frozen mango lemonade is so simple to make. It is an icy blend of fresh squeezed lemonade, frozen mango, and ice. That’s it!

I really do love mango. It’s a fun flavor that can be used in savory dishes, desserts, and drinks. I use to think it was only good in sweet foods like my mango sorbet but then I discovered Kimi’s mango chutney, which is what makes my  tandoori chicken sandwich so tasty.

So, back to the lemonade…

The sweet mango and tart lemonade balance each other out to create a refreshing icy treat. Let’s just say it was enjoyed a few times over the past week, and I will be making it again in the very near future. I used my basic honey sweetened lemonade for this recipe but you could stevia sweetened lemonade. All three options make for a tasty lemonade and go well with the mango. However you make it, I’m sure it will be tasty!

Other Healthy Lemon Treats:

This super delicious version of frozen lemonade is so refreshing on a hot day! It's fruit and honey sweetened for an all natural treat too. --- The Nourishing Gourmetv

Frozen Mango Lemonade

Ingredients:
2 cups of homemade lemonade
3/4 cup frozen mango chunks
1/2 cup of ice

Directions:
Blend together in a high powered blender until smooth. If it is too thick, add more lemonade or water.

Frozen Mango Lemonade
 
 
Sweet mango and tart lemonade balance each other out to create the perfect icy treat.
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Blend together in a high powered blender until smooth. If it is too thick, add more lemonade or water.

 

Coconut Coffee Cooler

This refreshing and hydrating coffee drink is a lovely combination of coffee, coconut water, and coconut cream. Perfect for summertime (or anytime!)---- The Nourishing Gourmet

Sweet coconut water, creamy coconut cream, and dark coffee are combined for a surprisingly delicious coffee drink that is refreshing!

I love hydrating drinks during the hot summer months. The problem with coffee is that the caffeine acts as a diuretic, so ends up not being the best beverage when trying to stay hydrated. This drink combines coffee with they very hydrating coconut water, which is why it’s not only delicious, but refreshing as well.

A couple notes on the ingredients:

Coffee:

My favorite coffee to use in this recipe is espresso. We use our stovetop espresso maker (I talk about it, and 3 other “plastic free” coffee making methods here), as we don’t have a fancy espresso maker. I like using espresso best as it allows you to use more of the coconut water per cup.
However, we’ve also tried it with double strength French Press (use the same amount of coffee grounds and only half the water) and, cold brew coffee as well. All work and are delicious.

Coconut Cream:

I’ve been avoiding the additives in many of the canned coconut milks. Thankfully, I found that (Amazon Affiliate link) Aroy-D Coconut Cream is really delicious, as well as additive-free.

Other Healthy Beverage Recipes:

Coconut Coffee Cooler

You can also sweeten this more, if desired, but we found the natural sweetness from the coconut water and cream perfect for us.

Ingredients:

  • 2 shots of espresso, ½ cup of double strength coffee or cold brew concentrate
  • Coconut Water
  • 2 tablespoons of coconut cream or full fat coconut milk

1. In a large glass, stir together the warm coffee and coconut cream or milk (I add the coconut cream at this point so that it melts completely into the coffee.)
2. Fill the glass ¾ full of ice.
3. Pour coconut water to the top. Stir, and enjoy!

Coconut Coffee Cooler
 
 
My favorite coffee to use in this recipe is espresso. We use our stovetop espresso maker (I talk about it, and three other “plastic free” coffee making methods here), as we don’t have a fancy espresso maker. I like using espresso best as it allows you to use more of the coconut water per cup. However, we’ve also tried it with double strength French Press (use the same amount of coffee grounds and only half the water) and, cold brew coffee as well. All work and are delicious.
Ingredients
  • 2 shots of espresso or ½ cup of double strength coffee or cold brew concentrate
  • Coconut Water
  • 2 tablespoons of coconut cream or full fat coconut milk
Instructions
  1. In a large glass, stir together the warm coffee and coconut cream or milk (I add the coconut cream at this point so that it melts completely into the coffee.)
  2. Fill the glass ¾ full of ice.
  3. Pour coconut water to the top. Stir, and enjoy!

 

Healthy Hand Roll Sushi (Made the “Lazy Susan” Method)

This delightful and easy method of making sushi with healthy ingredients is delicious! Plus, it's both parent and kid-friendly. I love how everyone can pick out their own filling ingredients easily and be part of the creative process. -- The Nourishing Gourmet

These hand roll sushis have crispy nori, sweet teriyaki fish, gingery fish eggs, crisp cucumbers and tender avocado. They are very delicious, easy to make (as everyone makes their own), and full of nutrient dense ingredients!

My husband (who is a quarter Japanese-American) thought it very important to introduce me to the joys of sushi before we got married. I think that he was going to be a bit sad if I disliked it, but thankfully for both of us, I loved it! And now our children enjoy it as well. This is the method my mother-in-law used for making hand rolls and she called it “lazy Susan sushi” because everyone makes their own sushi! We like how the seaweed doesn’t soften at all, but stays crisp when made this way. Joel and I like that this method allows us to get dinner on the table much quicker than when we roll sushi.

Now, please note, that this isn’t “authentic” “traditional” sushi by any means. This is parent and child-friendly sushi. 😉 And I’m okay with that – especially in this season of life with three little people. But I’ve included a link for how to roll more authentic hand roll sushi too.

Easy Hand Rolls/Lazy Susan Method

This delightful and easy method of making sushi with healthy ingredients is delicious! Plus, it's both parent and kid-friendly. I love how everyone can pick out their own filling ingredients easily and be part of the creative process. -- The Nourishing GourmetThis couldn’t be easier. You provide nori squares, sushi rice, and a bunch of sushi filling options, and everyone makes their own sushi at the table. It’s delicious and fun! Of course, if you had a large lazy Susan, this would be the meal to use it at!

I find that having the kids involved in making their own sushi also helps them feel confident in trying new foods (because it’s not forced on them). For example, I noticed my four-year-old heaping salmon roe on her sushi the other day! Because she made the choice to try them out, and I wasn’t forcing her to put them on, she was willing to try it, found that she liked it, and then helped herself to plenty of it.

The benefits of roe (fish eggs)

It can be expensive to by fish eggs, though you may be surprised at how reasonable some brands are, but it’s worth the buy when you can manage it. Fish eggs are a great source of several important nutrients, including omega 3’s, vitamin D, and vitamin B12, and selenium. Many studies have found a connection between a healthy brain and mood and omega 3’s and vitamin B12’s, and vitamin D and selenium with a healthy immune system. Even the FDA is blogging about the benefits of seafood, including roe, for babies and children!

I recommend roe from wild salmon for both taste and nutritive value. Both fish roe and seaweed were traditionally highly valued for their health-promoting attributes – especially for young children and pregnant and nursing women.

Why we try to eat seaweed weekly

My doctor recommend that I try to eat more seaweed for the iodine (read more about the benefits of eating seaweed here), and this method of making sushi, along with this Nori and Sesame Seed sprinkle, is a pain-free and delicious way to enjoy it. I started a short series on seaweed right before my daughter was born, and am finally getting back to it with this post! (Thanks for being so patient with me!). I am going to be aiming for eating seaweed three times a week according to my doctor’s direction, but you should probably consult your own doctor before chowing down almost every other day on seaweed since there can be some contradictions with certain thyroid disorders.

I know some of my readers have expressed concerns about radiation issues and seaweed and seafood. I have been attempting to find a brand of nori sheets that for sure wouldn’t be affected by the Japanese meltdown, but it’s been the hardest one for me to source. Some choices that may be good include, nori sheets from China such as this brand or this brand. (I’d love some reader insight here. If you look at at world map, you see that China is right by Japan. How I understand the current is that the water from Japan is being pushed towards us on the west side of the U.S., so I would assume it wouldn’t be going back towards China. But please correct me if wrong.) Iceland was looking into making nori sheet for sushi, which would be ideal! But I haven’t found it on the market yet. The only nori I’ve been able to source that’s not from the Pacific so far has been nori not in sheets such as this one. If anyone has a source, please let us know in the comments!

This delightful and easy method of making sushi with healthy ingredients is delicious! Plus, it's both parent and kid-friendly. I love how everyone can pick out their own filling ingredients easily and be part of the creative process. -- The Nourishing Gourmet

Should you eat raw fish?

You will notice that I didn’t include raw fish in the below sushi ingredients. I do enjoy raw fish occasionally, but the possible risks of parasites is a little unnerving, especially as a friend had a lot of health issues after becoming infected with a parasite from raw fish in sushi. To cut down on the risks, it had been recommended to freeze seafood for 2 weeks before consuming it raw, however newer recommendations state that home freezers may not reach cold enough temperatures, so only commercially frozen seafood would be considered safe. If you enjoy raw fish, you may want to keep some of these guidelines in mind and use very high-quality fish. It’s really lovely to enjoy thinly sliced raw fish in these hand rolls, so feel free to add it! 

A couple notes on the ingredients:

  • Feel free to mix things up! We do. You can mix and match as many sushi filling ideas as you like!
  • If you can’t have rice or grain, check out this grain-free cauliflower rice. But if you have a lot of delicious fillings, I even enjoy simply making nori wraps without any rice at all.

This delightful and easy method of making sushi with healthy ingredients is delicious! Plus, it's both parent and kid-friendly. I love how everyone can pick out their own filling ingredients easily and be part of the creative process. -- The Nourishing Gourmet

Hand Roll Sushi (Lazy Susan Method)

Serves 2-4

Ingredients:

  • Teriyaki Fish (see recipe below)
  • 1 jar of wild salmon roe (or fish eggs of choice)
  • Fresh ginger
  • Sushi rice (We often just salt our rice while it cooks instead of adding vinegar and a sweetener. Use sweetener of choice, if you do use.)
  • Squares of nori (a sheet of nori is cut into 4 equal squares)
  • Thin slices of peeled and seeded cucumber and avocado
  • Soy sauce or tamari (for gluten free), and wasabi for serving.

Directions:

1. Make teriyaki fish, and then slice or shred into small pieces (make sure all bones are removed), and make sushi rice.

2. Place the cucumber and avocado in bowls. Place the roe in a small bowl, and flavor with finely grated fresh ginger to taste. Cut nori into squares (four squares per sheet) and place on a plate.

3. Put all ingredients on the table with serving spoons and allow everyone to serve ingredients onto their plates to make their own hand rolls. Hand rolls can be made like this, the “right” way, or simply folded over as pictured above.

This easy and yummy teriyaki fish is perfect for a cooked fish filling for sushi! Very kid friendly too. --- The Nourishing Gourmet

Teriyaki Fish

This is the same simple teriyaki sauce as used in my teriyaki chicken. It’s so simple and delicious. I have been using Norwegian mackerel for this recipe, but you can use whatever fish you’d like. Salmon or black cod would be delicious too.

  • ¼ cup of coconut sugar or sweetener of choice
  • ½ cup organic tamari sauce (for gluten free) or organic soy sauce
  • 1 pound of fish fillets of choice (see note above)

1. Mix the sweetener and tamari sauce together and pour over the fish fillets in an oven proof pan. Let marinate for 20 minutes to 2 hours (the longer you marinate, the more pronounced the teriyaki flavor will be.

2. Preheat the oven to 275F, and then cook for 20-25 minutes, or until the fish is done.

3. Skin, and thinly slice or shred for sushi.

Healthy Hand Roll Sushi (Made the “Lazy Susan” Method)
 
 
Ingredients
  • Teriyaki Fish (see recipe below)
  • 1 jar of wild salmon roe (or fish eggs of choice)
  • Fresh ginger
  • Sushi rice (We often just salt our rice while it cooks instead of adding vinegar and a sweetener. Use sweetener of choice, if you do use.)
  • Squares of nori (a sheet of nori is cut into 4 equal squares)
  • Thin slices of peeled and seeded cucumber and avocado
  • Soy sauce or tamari, and wasabi for serving.
Instructions
  1. Make teriyaki fish, and then slice or shred into small pieces (make sure all bones are removed), and make sushi rice.
  2. Place the cucumber and avocado in bowls. Place the roe in a small bowl, and flavor with finely grated fresh ginger to taste. Cut nori into squares (four squares per sheet) and place on a plate.
  3. Put all ingredients on the table with serving spoons and allow everyone to serve ingredients onto their plates to make their own hand rolls.
  4. Hand rolls can be made like this, the “right” way, or simply folded over as pictured above.

Healthy Hand Roll Sushi (Made the “Lazy Susan” Method)
 
 
This is the same simple teriyaki sauce as my teriyaki chicken. It’s so simple and delicious. I have been using Norwegian mackerel for this recipe, but you can use whatever fish you’d like. Salmon or black cod would be delicious too.
Ingredients
  • ¼ cup of coconut sugar or sweetener of choice
  • ½ cup organic tamari sauce (for gluten free) or organic soy sauce
  • 1 pound of fish fillets of choice (see note above)
Instructions
  1. Mix the sweetener and tamari sauce together and pour over the fish filets in an oven proof pan. Let marinate for 20 minutes to 2 hours (the longer you marinate, the more pronounced the teriyaki flavor fill be. Preheat the oven to 275F, and then cook for 20-25 minutes, or until the fish is done.
  2. Skin, and thinly slice or shred for sushi.