Friday, December 12, 2008

Meal Preparation - Part 3 - Your Freezer

Freezing food is one of the easiest ways to make your mealtimes easier and it's one of the easiest ways to preserve food. For those like me who don't have a nice big chest freezer in the basement don't worry you can still take advantage of the freezer space you have!

What can your freezer do for you??

1. Save you time when preparing your meals

2. Always have a meal in the freezer

3. Stock up when there are great sales!

Save yourself time

One of the biggest time saver when I'm making dinner is that I usually have some of the ingredients prepared in the freezer already.

Cooked ground beef and chicken are perfect for making cassaroles or crockpot meals that require pre-cooked meat. Chopped onions, peppers and stirfry mix are all great for easy prep of recipes that you might saute or stirfry. I love having strifry veggies prepared in the freezer, then all I do is add some chicken and a splash of soy sauce, olive oil or other seasonings and make some rice and Voila! you have a quick meal! Frozen Bananas are great for making smoothies or banana bread.

Always Have a Meal in the Freezer

Many of you have heard of Once a Month Cooking (OMAC), when you take time each month to cook a bunch of meals so that you have food for the whole month. While I love the concept, it's pretty unrealistic for me with two little one's and not much storage space.

I do this a little at a time. If I'm cooking a meal like lasagna, which usually makes a 9x13 size pan I always make it in a 9x9 pan and make 2. One I will cook for that night, the other I will prepare and then freeze for another time. This can be done with many different meals and can be a lifesaver when you "forgot" about dinner. I do this with cassaroles, sauces, waffles, pancakes, and quiche.

My latest favorite way to have meals in the freezer is our Small Group's "Cooking Club" - at least that's what we call it. A friend of mine, Rebekah, started this great group and it has doubled in just 3 months! We all love it. Sometimes I think I love it the most!!

How it works: Each person cooks or prepare one meal for all people involved, (for example, instead of making 1 lasagna for yourself, make 5) then we lug our coolers to church where we exchange meals. You don't have to be as cool as us showing up at church with your Igloo cooler, you can exchange your meals wherever you'd like. The best part is that I get to stock up my freezer with 5 meals!! We do this once a month and it's perfect I always have one meal a week in the freezer, ready to go! So I go home with 5 meals for my freezer! This is a huge time saver and so simple!!

Here are a few great links about freezing meals or food exchanges:

Stock up When There are Great Sales

There are a few stores in my area that have great meat sales a few times a year. I usually use those sales to stock up on meat. This is especially a great deal because my husband works at one of these grocery stores so we get 10% off!! Ok Ok enough about our nice little discount, back to stocking up...

For those of you who know, I'm addiced to couponing - yes - addicted! This has been such a financial blessing to our family and to our friends who I've shared my "coupon experience" with.

There are times when I have come home with 10 bags of Green Giant Valley Fresh Steamers for FREE or very close to free! I also stock up on butter, bread, chicken nuggets

Sometimes I spend a few hours baking and freeze a bunch of muffins, pancakes, breads and other goodies. Doing this can be a real timesaver! I have been known to make extra cookie dough and freeze that for a quick snack. You can even make your own babyfood to freeze! (I may just do this this spring!)

C O M M E R C I A L B R E A K.......

I want to take a minute here to do an un-paid advertizement for Ziplock's new Vacuum bags.

I've used them a bunch now and I'm ready to give them my stamp of approval!

Basically it's a very inexpensive way to vacuum-seal your freezer bags. It comes with a hand operated pump and the bags are really reasonable (especially when you have coupons!)

See that tight seal on the lovely red peppers I just stocked up on last week. Beautiful - and no chance of these peppers getting any frost burn!

The Ziplock company can feel free to send me one of these starter kits to giveaway if they want to be daring enough to be my very first official giveaway!! --- anyone out there--- no---oh well it doesn't hurt to ask!

I could go on and on about all the things you can freeze but I'll save that for another day. I hope to share more details about all of this in the .

Let me know what intrests you the most and I'll be sure to discuss those topics first! Be sure you click on COMMENT below to leave me a comment!!

I'd love to know what your best trick for freezing food or your favorite meal to freeze is? Leave me a comment below!

1 comment:

  1. I personally think that a Cooking Club for Singles would be the best idea ever! I hated cooking when it was just for me. Think of how great that would be!!!