Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Guidelines for Freezing Food plus some food ideas!

I have been writing furiously for three days straight in my little notebook. I have SO much to blog about and so little opportunity. Haha... Ok - I just don't want to overwhelm you guys with so much awesome wisdom and witty-ness all at once..... *snort*. Hey, you don't have to laugh that hard....

So for today.... drumroll please... FREEZER GUIDELINES and FOOD IDEAS!

Oops, I guess that was kind of anti-climactic since that was the title of my post.

Anyway...

I love my freezer. I just moved from a very small house to one with more room. I love the extra space for my 4 little kiddos, but honestly, my fav. part of the new house is the LARGE freezer that it came with! I have always struggled with getting healthy meals on the table every night at the same time (ugh). I FINALLY figured out that my biggest hurdle was always the frozen meat. It was always FROZEN and RAW when I wanted to use it, and no matter how hard I tried, I never had the discipline to think far enough in advance to defrost meat the night before (stay tuned for my upcoming book - Confessions of a Lazy Housewife - lol).

So I have come up with a new solution. :)

I cook big batches of fresh meat immediately after coming home from grocery shopping (If I don't have time, I put the meat in the frig. and cook it the day after.), and I freeze it in manageable portions. I love it! And its cheaper because I buy the meat in bulk.

This week was chicken. I bought a large amount of chicken breasts and thighs and baked them while I unloaded my groceries. When it came out of the oven, I used it not only for dinner that night (chicken and mashed potatoes), but I cut the rest up into chunks and threw it in small batches into freezer bags. I've used it for:
Chicken Soup
Creamy Chicken Pasta
Chicken and Vegetable Quiche Bake
Chicken Stir Fry
Chicken Wraps
etc....
The possibilities are endless. And because the meat is cooked, I can just add it to dishes frozen and let it heat during cooking.

Here's a great tip - make a LOT at once, and freeze it pretty plain so you can use it in a variety of recipes, then do the same thing the following week with a different type of meat. If you rotate through chicken, pork, beef, turkey, ground beef, etc., you will end up with lots of different types of meats in your freezer to choose from for meals. Then you won't get sick of eating the same stuff all the time. (Trust me, my family will be sure to point it out if we have had the same type of meal more than one night in a row.)

How about some freezer guidelines to help us along?
Found this at www.eatrightontario.ca:

How long to store foods in the freezer:
Leftovers
Meats and Vegetables - 2 to 3 months
Soups - 4 months
Most vegetables and fruit (not potatoes, lettuce, radishes, green onions, celery, and tomatoes) - 12 months
Breads - 2 months
Milk - 6 weeks
Ground Meat - 2 to 3 months
Beef, Roast, Steaks - 10 to 12 months
Chicken pieces - 6 months
Fatty fish (Salmon) - 2 months

Freeze cooked foods immediately after cooling (in the fridge is best - not on the counter). For better quality foods, use the shorter freezing time guidelines. Write a best before date on your stuff before you toss it in, and keep a wipe off board on your freezer to keep track of stock. And rule #1 - DO NOT REFREEZE thawed foods. Safety first! ;)

Lastly: GREAT FOODS TO FREEZE:
Extra Pancakes
Muffins
Cooked Meat
Pizza Crusts & Breads
Cookies
Casseroles
Homemade tv dinners (make individual size cooked meals for those snack times at night when hubby is really hungry)

I love this. I am cooking less, saving money, eating better and relieving stress. I <3 my freezer. ;-)

1 comment:

Just a Mommy said...

I want to try doing some batch cooking myself. I am SO disorganized when it comes to meal planning - I don't give it much thought until little tummies start rumbling, and it's a little hard to make anything more complicated than PBJ at that point!

Thanks for posting the info about safety guidelines - I'll have to remember to date the stuff I freeze. Right now I have stuff in there that I have no clue how old it is - which probably means it needs to be thrown away!