Friday, September 05, 2008

freezer cooking tips

Although technically this should be a post for my home blog, that one hasn't been updated in FOREVER. I really should get on that...But anyway, I still haven't got around to getting an email out to people. So I just wanted to share a few things that I have been doing, and share some tips I have learned along the way. I have yet to do just one big cooking day, but have just been doing little bits and pieces at a time. This post will probably be long and wordy so if you start to fall asleep, I won't be offended. I promise. Ok here goes...

**First of I remember talking to my sister about recipes one time. We were both saying we like the Taste of Home magazines because they are recipes from "real people." You know, the kind with ingredients that you have actually heard of. One day I was at the commissary and this lady and her husband were trying to find some seasoning. They were totally irritated and the man finally said, " where did you even hear of this?" And with a very exasperated sigh she said, "from a Rachel Ray Everyday magazine!" The guy said screw it then and walked off. Long story short, the reason that I love the sites under the title " Hungry..." (on my side above the birthday thing)are because they are made by real people. When they post a recipe, I usually have every single ingredient. Or only missing one or two. Plus they are simple but delish. So if you are looking for new recipes and new things to try, check those sites out. I am going to add one more too that I recently found and love.

**Moving on...When I make a recipe, I have been trying to double it. For example if I am making my beef enchilada recipe that calls for 1 lb. of hamburger, I usually make it with 2 or more. It also calls for one can of enchilada sauce. So when I am shopping, I will make sure to get at least two. Serve the first dish to your family and than freeze the other one. What I like to do for that, which I find not as messy, is to line the dish with foil. Leaving extra on the sides. Then when it is done, you can easily lift it out and wrap it up. I wrap in aluminum foil and than put in a plastic bag with all the air sucked out.

**When doing desserts, if it is a bar or brownie, I do the same thing with the foil. If they are cookies, I at least double the recipe. I usually leave 1.5 dozen in the cookie jar and the rest get frozen. Or I will double wrap a ball of dough ( like if I get tired of making the cookies)and put that in the freezer for a later day.

** I took Mary's advice and have been buying whole chickens instead of pkgs of breasts. We don't have fresh chicken here, everything is frozen so I figure I have to thaw it out anyway, might as well be a whole chicken. If you have never cooked a whole is very simple. I like to prepare 2 and put them side by side in my roaster pan. All I put on is butter and salt, because we don't eat the skin anyway. Then I take cheap ziploc/Glad containers and put it in individual portions. That way if I want to make a recipe I can just pull it out and warm it up.

**With hamburger, I try to at the least 2 lbs. Cook until no longer red. Drain the grease and than bag it. That way it is easily used for tacos or casseroles etc. I know some people flash freeze it but I never have and have had no problems. Maybe it's a personal preferance?!

**I used to have the big foodsaver but ruined it somehow. So when I decided to do this again, Ben was a little hesitant to buy me a new one! lol Instead I bought the little $10 one from Reynolds. It has worked great for me. I am a little worried though because I haven't seen the bags around here anymore. Maybe if I look out in town. Amazon also sells them. But I will put cookies in those bags ( or other things that I just need a single portion of. Works great. And I think it is nice to use that first before investing in something bigger.

**I get so tired of making sandwiches once the school year begins. 3 sandwiches a day times 5 days a do the math. It's a lot of bread. So I look through the freezer section and try to look at things that can be made and than frozen. For example I make my own bagel bite pizzas. Take a pkg of mini bagels, put sauce and toppings on, bake at 350 for about 10 minutes. Once they are cooled I put two together ( sandwich like) and wrap them together in plastic wrap. Do it 2 at a time. Then put all your little individual ones in a big bag and suck the air out. I freeze them like this because I don't want to have 24 bagel pizzas all stuck together. Does that make sense? Ben likes the Jimmy Dean breakfast sandwiches. So I bought English muffins, round sausages(you can also use ham/canadian bacon) and cheese. No eggs because I don't know how well that would work. Cook those and than wrap them individually. Other things to try...cressant dogs. I also will make the kids quesadillas or chicken nuggets.

**We are really bad about eating leftovers. It's like they go to our fridge to become a science experiment. So instead I will put it in a cheap container and than put it right into the freezer. Unless I am 100% sure that it will be eaten the next day. That way I can just grab it out of the freezer and send it with Ben to work on days he doesn't eat out.

** Last but not least...LABEL,LABEL,LABEL. You may think you know what it is,but once it is foiled wrapped and is sitting in the freezer, it may not be as easy to recognize. Plus you will want to put the date on. First in, first out.

I have barely begun doing this and with school starting I got a little behind. Now with Ivan in school more I am going to be trying to get it going again. If you have any questions feel free to ask, but I am not an expert! :)


Angie said...

Thanks for the post Marie. I really want to try and do something similar and I like your tips!

Janice said...

Thanks Marie. I will have to see how I fair in finding recipes. Thank you for the tips! I hope all is well! I think of you all often.

becky said...

I love love the Tast of Home Magazines. So many good ideas. I also like You can put in what ever ingredient. Like I wanted to make spaghetti squash. And then all these recipes came up and they are voted on by people who have tried it and you can read reviews. they also give suggestions for things to serve with it.

The Anglesey Family said...

Thanks for the tips! You know I am a fan of freezer meals. BTW, I went to the commissary today and there was not one box of those lemon bar things. I promise I will send you a box when they get another shipment.