Saturday, August 11, 2012
About six months ago I wrote about wanting to start making freezer meals. You all provided me with wonderful tips on how you keep your own freezer stocked as well as provided some cookbook suggestions for make-ahead meals. Six months later I still have so much to learn, but we all have to start somewhere, right?
I’m always asking what people make ahead and keep in their freezer so I thought I’d share 10 things that I typically have in my freezer.
1. Waffles/Pancakes - These are so great for the weekdays--just pop one or two in the microwave for 30 seconds and you're ready to rock and roll.
2. Spaghetti Sauce - This has become an absolute favorite in our house. I make a huge batch of Betty Crocker's Meat Sauce and freezer in Ball Pint and a Half Jars (picture upper left)
3. Shredded Chicken - I keep these in several different portion sizes--small baggies within bigger baggies for lunches, bigger portions for casseroles, portions for soups or other quick meals.
4. Chicken Stock - I save in one and two cup sizes. I also have a baggie for chicken bones and odd ends of veggies to make more stock in the future.
5. Meatballs - Alton Brown to the rescue! Bake the meatballs in cupcake papers and then freeze on a cookie sheet until solid and then toss into a large freezer bag.
6. Stew/Soup - Any kind! We've had great luck with everything we've tried but if the recipe calls for pasta we only add when the soup is reheated otherwise it turns to mush. Potatoes are hit or miss but if initially undercooked they're fine when reheated. Put in freezer bags and freeze flat to stack (picture lower right)
7. Shredded Cheese - We go through a lot of cheese. Buy the big blocks, run through a food processor, and bag up in two cup serving sizes.
8. Baby Food/Snacks - Upper right picture is orzo with carrots, broccoli, zucchini, and a touch of cheese. Elle loves it and I don't mind nibbling off it either.
9. Meats (variety of raw cuts) - Take the time to portion out the meats and take out as much air as possible. A vacuum-sealer is great for this. Chicken, pork chops, hamburger, pork tenderloin, turkey breast, steak--we may eat a lot of meat at our house...
10. Fruits/Vegetables (either bought frozen or flash frozen from fresh) - Bottom middle picture--I had half a dozen peaches that were about to overripe before I could eat them so I cut them up and froze on a baking sheet until solid and put in baggie. Great snacking and they don't seem to be as mushy when thawed as fruit bought frozen. We do buy a lot of frozen veggies. From all that I've read they're just as nutritious as fresh vegetables. Peas and Corn are our favorites and so easy to toss into stews, rice, and other dishes.
Other random things that I keep in my freezer include tablespoon measurements of tomato paste from the can (put into ice cube trays until frozen and then bag up), a pastry crust, jars of chicken pot pie filling, homemade frozen dinners (right now stuffed chicken and manicotti), bananas that were too ripe to eat.
And then there are things that I want to try to freeze: beans (as in dried beans), pie crusts, more frozen dinners, cookie dough, small portions of wine for cooking, milk?!
You told me that freezing food would be addicting and it is. We have a spare freezer in the garage and are thinking about getting a chest freezer in addition. There's just something great about having nothing planned for dinner and being able to pull something out that you've already made. With big batches of soup I've also been portioning single servings to take to work. Though we still have a long way to go!!
What do you love to keep in your freezer? What freezer tips do you have to share?
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