Saturday, July 30, 2011

Tips to Stock Your Freezer

Since there was a lot interest in my previous freezer post My Freezer, My Friend , I thought I'd also post some tips about freezer cooking.  I'll share some freezer recipes in an upcoming post.

 Having extra meals in the freezer really isn’t very hard.  Many times I just double a recipe I’m making.  You’ll save a lot of time on the serving day because of minimal food prep, but also because you don’t have to clean all the cooking dishes. 

There are so many things beyond soups and casseroles that you can freeze that you may not have thought about.  I’m sure your family has its favorites and you can easily find recipes for different types.  

I buy hamburger in the 3 pound containers.  When I brown hamburger and onions, I cook the whole thing and put it into 3 separate freezer bags.  When a recipe calls for a pound of hamburger, I save about 15 minutes by having it pre-cooked.

If you use noodles in casseroles you intend to freeze, undercook the noodles or they will get mushy when you thaw them.  It is even better to just freeze the sauce and cook the noodles fresh on the day you plan to serve it.  Rice in casseroles freezes fine, though.  And plain cooked rice can be frozen separately, then just heated with a few drops of water added.

If you buy family-sized packs of chicken, separate them in meal-sized portions in marinade (even just Italian dressing).  When they are thawed, they will be well seasoned and extra tender.  Having the chicken frozen in a marinade also helps prevent freezer burn.

Try to eat the food you have stored within 3 months for best quality.

Label what is in the bag AND how to prepare it with a Sharpie.  Then you don’t waste time looking for the recipe and others will also know how to cook it.

Be sure cookies are cooled completely before freezing or just freeze the raw cookie dough instead.

I wrap banana bread, cranberry bread, etc. in aluminum foil and then put in a Ziploc bag to freeze.  This helps keep it from drying out. 

Cooled bars and brownies can be cut and frozen.  Freeze in bags and thaw overnight to serve.  This works well when your family can’t eat a whole pan of whatever you make before they go stale or get sick of them.

Buy freezer bags, not just regular zip-top bags.  They are thicker and prevent freezer burn.  Generic work fine.

Most recipes can be frozen in a zip-top bag.  Lay flat so they freeze into a notebook shape.  When frozen, stack on their sides like books on a bookshelf.  They take up less room and are easier to retrieve.

If you are making meatloaf, lasagna or something that can’t be frozen in a bag, spray your container, line it with heavy-duty aluminum foil and spray the foil.  After the meal is frozen, the foil should slide out so you can use your pan while the food is still in the freezer.  When you need to cook the item, put the frozen, aluminum wrapped item in the same container in which it was frozen.  Let it thaw and then heat.

1 comment:

Laura said...

Ok, Double Wow. This is the next best thing to having you come over! Thanks for taking the time to write all of this out! Now I just have to remember some of it the next time I cook :-) My favorite tip: The last one. I've never thought of taking the frozen lasagna out of the pan. I just crab that I can't use it while we're waiting for the meal that's in it.