Freezing Makes for Easy Meal Preparation
Since I’m sharing information about Meal Planning with you I also want to share with you information about products that I think would be of benefit to you and your family. I do this by including affiliate links within my post. These links will take you to external sites where if you choose you can purchase the items. This along with stretching my families food supplies through freezing is just one more way that I help to support my family.
In my humble opinion there is no better appliance than the freezer. Walk down the aisle at most grocery stores and you will find three or even four aisles of frozen products. Why? Because freezing food is cheap and easy. You can preserve food at the peak of freshness and keep prepared foods for an extended period of time.
I can only think of a few foods which do not freeze well. Sour Cream because the cream separates from the whey in the thawing process and I’ve never been able to mix it back successfully. Yogurt however freezes great. Go figure! You can not freeze eggs in shell, but you can freeze raw eggs that have been cracked, see below. Lettuce doesn’t freeze, since it is made up mostly of water, it will turn to mush in the thawing process.
What Foods to Freeze?
I freeze all kinds of meat, raw, deli, ham, sausage, pepperoni, bacon. You can also freeze cooked meat. If you have leftover meats, simply divide into usable portions and place in your freezer.
Most vegetables can be frozen fairly easily. By simply doing a quick, you canprep veggies in no-time. Then place in freezer bags. They make for quick and easy side dishes. Just remove from their containers, add water with salt and pepper, additional flavorings such as butter and onion if you prefer and bring to a boil, let boil for a few minutes until heated through and tender.
I know some who will chop onions in bulk and freeze for ease of use, onions and peppers do not need to be par-cooked.
Potatoes for various uses, such as hash browns. Simply peel and boil potatoes until tender. Cook enough to handle. Then using a food-processor with a shred attachment or hand shredder, you can shred the potatoes for hash browns.
You can freeze most dairy items. I freeze milk. To do this simply pour out a cup of milk and put the jug in the freezer. (I don’t pour out in paper cartons because there is extra head room in the container.) You can freeze cheese, both sliced and shredded, yogurt, cream cheese, and ricotta. Sour Cream does NOT freeze well. In the thawing process the cream separates from the whey and I’ve never been able to get it to mix back together well.
Eggs, well I know eggs are NOT dairy, but they keep them in the dairy section at the grocery. You can freeze eggs, out of the shell. First of all, you can keep eggs longer than most people think. Eggs have a shelf life of about 4-5 weeks. By freezing un-used eggs at around the 3 week mark you can extend the shelf life of your eggs to about a year.
Here’s How: Crack the egg and put into a freezable container in usable portions. Freeze. Thaw in the fridge overnight. The eggs will cook well in many recipes, however the yolk thickens in the freezing process, so some recipes are better left to fresh eggs.
- Prepared Foods
My rule of thumb when it comes to freezing prepared foods is if I can find it as a pre-packaged convenience food in the frozen section at the grocery store, I can make it at home cheaper and most likely it will taste better and freeze it myself, thus making my own pre-packaged convenience food. Pinterest is filled with ideas for freezing prepared meals. You can do this by saving leftovers, doubling recipes and freezing the second batch or spend a day making 10 pre-cooked meals.
- BreadI do this in 2 ways. I buy extra sliced bread and buns and freeze them. I also freeze homemade bread dough. I have a good basic bread dough recipe, I make it often, (I’ll be sharing it in a later post). Whenever I do, I make and freeze extra by splitting the dough, forming into either loaves or rolls. I coat the dough with olive oil to make for easier removal from bag later. My recipe doubles as a pizza or Stromboli dough. When I need a quick meal, like after co-ops, I’ll set out a loaf of frozen dough before I leave to thaw while I’m away. When I return home I can whip up a homemade pizza in no time.
Here’s How I Freeze Bread Dough:
My recipe rises two times before baking. After mixing, I let the dough rise the first time. Then I punch down the dough and divide. I form the loaves/rolls. The portions that I plan to freeze I coat in olive oil and put in freezer bags and freeze. When it’s time to use, I set out and thaw for a couple of hours, let rise in a warm place before baking.
I also will make up Stromboli’s filled with meats and cheeses and freeze those following these techniques only I wrap them in double layers of foil.
- FruitsBy far fruit is the easiest thing to freeze. I freeze applesauce (made in the crockpot, berries, bananas and even grapes. Just trim, wash and put in the freezer bag. What could be easier. For bananas that are over ripe, peel, and freeze. They make great smoothies or mock ice cream.
Freezing Equipment Needed
- FreezerAny freezer will do. The one in your kitchen with your refrigerator is great. But for extra long storage I recommend a deep freeze. My dad bought one for us about 17 years ago and works great. It’s a small size but stores a lot of food. If you have a larger family you might consider a larger one.
- Freezer BagsThey come in a few sizes, the most often used are gallon and quart sizes. I prefer ZiplocTM Freezer Bags for their ease of use.
- Food Safe Freezer ContainersThese are not an absolute necessity item. However they are handy to have on hand, and most likely you have a few 100 in your kitchen anyway right? They are convenient for those times when you may be out of freezer bags or for freezing a single portion of leftover meals, for quick and easy lunches.
How about you? What freezing tips do you have for maintaining your kitchen stock?
My 10 Days of Meal Planning series is a part of the iHomeschool Network Autumn Hopscotch. It’s your turn, hop on over to see what my friends are blogging about.