10 locally made frozen foods to ease cooking fatigue

From gooey mac and cheese to meaty dumplings and Middle Eastern fare, we’ve culled together a sampling of East Bay-made frozen foods that are ready to pop in the oven when you need a break.

Take-and-bake empanadas from Javi's Cooking. Photo: Sarah Han
Take-and-bake empanadas from Javi’s Cooking. Photo: Sarah Han

Cooking fatigue. It’s a real thing. As we enter yet another week of quarantine (What day is it, anyway?) and as Bay Area temperatures start to rise, we want you to know you’re not alone in feeling like you might have a full kitchen meltdown if you have to make one more meal.

Luckily, there’s a solution to your cooking doldrums in the form of frozen foods. But we’re not talking your average 1950s-style TV dinners, but delectable, oh-so-easy, heat-then-eat dishes made by some of your favorite local eateries. These frozen meals will make life just a bit easier on those days you’re ready to throw every dish out the window.

From gooey mac and cheese to meaty dumplings and Middle Eastern fare, we’ve culled together a sampling of East Bay-made frozen foods that are ready to pop in the oven when you need a break from cooking.

Javi’s Cooking

Along with a variety of hot, freshly baked empanadas, Javi’s Cooking in Oakland sells four packs of its take-and-bake frozen hand pies. Packs come in 10 different traditional Argentine flavors, such as fugazzeta (cheese and onion), jamon y queso (ham and cheese) and carne (beef, onions, peppers, hard-boiled eggs, and olives), priced at $18-$24. Whichever filling you choose, these flakey pockets of goodness are spiced to perfection and turn golden brown after a few minutes in the oven. Javi’s accepts prepaid online or phone orders for pickup. Javi’s Cooking, 3446 Market St. (at 35th Street), Oakland


Dumpling Express

For a truly delicious bang for your buck consider taking home a 20-piece pack of pork, chicken or vegetarian dumplings for $9.50 ($9 with cash) from Dumpling Express. You might as well buy one of each in preparation for future cooking fatigue, or, perhaps, to barter with your neighbors for a coveted roll of TP. The Southside Berkeley shop has adjusted its hours from noon to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and recommends customers call in orders in advance. Dumpling Express, 2328 Bowditch St. (at Durant Avenue), Berkeley

Arthur Mac's Tap & Snack now offers frozen pizzas.
Arthur Mac’s Tap & Snack offers a variety of frozen pizzas. Photo: Arthur Mac’s Tap & Snack

Arthur Mac’s Tap and Snack

If there’s one thing you should have in your freezer, it’s a frozen pizza. But instead of stocking up on a frozen DiGiorno or Tombstone pie, try one from local North Oakland spot Arthur Mac’s Tap and Snack. The pizza and beer garden is now selling its house-made pies for your icebox for $14.50 each. Choose from eight flavors, such as cheese, pepperoni, salami and bell pepper, and even gluten-free pesto and veggie. Any way you slice it, this neighborhood haunt has got the goods. Order online for pickup or delivery. Arthur Mac’s Tap and Snack, 4006 Martin Luther King Jr. Way (at 40th Street), Oakland

Homeroom To Go

This is not a drill. Temescal’s Homeroom To Go is selling individual servings of its Classic (just like when you were a kid, but better) and Gilroy Garlic (Gouda, pecorino and garlic — oh my) macs, premade and frozen, to make all your cheesy dreams come true. Frozen macs are priced at $10.99 and $11.99, and are available for pickup or delivery via phone or online ordering. Homeroom To-Go, 4007 Webster St. (at 40th Street), Oakland

Cheese-stuffed falafel from Pomella.
Cheese-stuffed falafel from Pomella. Photo: Pomella

Pomella

Piedmont Avenue newcomer Pomella is bringing Middle Eastern flair to your next frozen meal. The “Pantry” section of the eatery’s online ordering menu offers a handful of frozen soups, such as curried cauliflower and red lentil butternut squash ($11 each), along with frozen specialties like falafel, including a cheese-stuffed version, ($10) and shakshuka ($28). Pre-order food for pickup Thursday, Friday or Saturday, or for delivery on Friday. Pomella, 377 Piedmont Ave., Unit B (at Yosemite Avenue), Oakland


Belcampo Restaurant & Butcher Shop

Belcampo Meat Co. is serving up satisfying meals made with grass-fed, pasture-raised, certified organic, sustainable meats. And since you’re looking for something quick, easy and already in your freezer, order one-quart containers of Belcampo’s chili or beef and kale stew ($19.99 each) from the Jack London Square location. (Find frozen meals under the “Butcher Shop” tab.) Meals are available for pickup or delivery via phone or online order. Belcampo Restaurant &Butcher Shop, 55 Webster St. (facing Water Street), Oakland

A pot pie from Baker & Commons.
Baker & Commons offers individual serving-sized frozen veggie-and-meat-filled pot pies. Photo: Baker & Commons

Baker & Commons

You probably know Baker & Commons for its gorgeous baked goods and elegant breakfast and lunch offerings, but did you also know that the shop is selling veggie and meaty pot pies? Stock up on the individually portioned 5” savory pies, priced at $12.95 each, for some serious comfort food vibes. Order online or by phone. Baker & Commons, 2900 College Ave. (at Russell Street), Berkeley

Communitē Table

In its “From Our Freezer to Your Table” online menu section, Communitē Table offers up the goods to make mealtimes a snap. Not only is the eatery selling two different sizes of chicken pot pies made with Mary’s free-range chicken ($11-$20), but there are also two different options for quiche (vegetarian or Lorraine, $18 each), vegan chili ($7.50) and seven varieties of soup including matzo ball, sweet potato cabbage, and chorizo and chickpea ($5.50-$6). Menu items are subject to change; call or stop by to see what’s currently in the freezer. Communitē Table, 4171 MacArthur Blvd. (near High Street), Oakland

Two pints of Almare Gelato stacked on top of each other.
Pints of Almare’s stracciatella and toasted almond with caramelized fig. Photo: Almare Gelato Italiano

Almare Gelato Italiano

On days you’re having one of those “I can’t cook another meal!” moments, and it’s also 1,000ºF outside, throw caution to the wind and grab a pint ($11) — or two, or three — of Almare gelato. Open daily from 2-7 p.m., the Berkeley gelateria offers several of its custard-based creations, including the tantalizing toasted almond with caramelized fig, as well as oh-so-classic Italian stracciatella. Gelato is available for delivery or pickup. So go ahead, give yourself a break, pop open a pint, and have dessert for dinner. During quarantine, we should indulge in life’s simple pleasures. Almare Gelato Italiano, 2170 Shattuck Ave. (between Center Street and Allston Way), Berkeley

Brazilian Bread

Berkeley’s friendly Brazilian cafe is selling every flavor, and then some, of its pão de queijo — naturally gluten-free, awesomely chewy bread balls made with tapioca flour and a blend of cheeses — frozen in a pack of 13 for $8.90. Choose from flavors like bacon, guava jelly and sundried tomato for a great snack, side or, heck, even an all pão de queijo meal (we won’t judge). Brazilian Bread, 1701 Solano Ave. (near Ensenada Avenue), Berkeley