Friday, July 16, 2010

Freezer Cooking -- going back to work!

Earlier this week I posted my beginning phases of getting organized before I go back to work.  I decided during the course of the next couple weeks I'm going to do something extra a day.  By extra I mean, extra organizing of a room or cooking a freezer meal.  I also have a birthday party to plan for our little girl with food allergies and I'm working hard to find a tasty cake and frosting (I've found the frosting!).

As far as my freezer cooking goes, I've taken giant steps this week.  I have cleaned out our big freezer.  I took inventory of what we had for meat leftover from our bulk buying we do each year.  I also stock up on chicken when I see it on sale -- around here that's usually 89 cents per pound or less.  My goal for the next few months is to eat up what we have and slow way down on stocking up.  One thing I've learned since being a stay-at-home mom is that the sales are cyclical and will come around again and again.  I now which stores offer what and often I can guess when.

After taking my inventory I realize I am getting low on ground beef, we have a ton of bacon and 14 roasts.  Plus a few surprises.  My menu planning will take all this into consideration.  I usually will cut up my roasts into to 1 inch cubes and use in several stews or other crockpot meals.

I've read many blog posts about how different people attack freezer cooking.  What I've learned is that you have to do what works for your family.  There is no cookie cutter recipe or plan for freezer cooking.  For freezer cooking I try to make food we really like.  I use a Foodsaver to preseve the food.  I recently got some bags from some windfall money.

What I found in the freezer already

2 packages of Salisbury Steak (sorry no recipe yet)
1 package of Pizza Burgers
Several soups for our daughter
Lots of chicken stock
2 packages of white beans
1 jar homemade spaghetti sauce
Half a package of Ravioli
several leftover meat (small portions for soups or fried rice)

Here is what I've done for freezer cooking this week

  • Many cups of black beans -- I cooked up two packages of black beans in a ham bone (I freeze these for future meals or for cooking black beans).  I store these is 1 cup or 2 cup bags.  I will use these in many recipes and work great as a filler with ground beef.  This is cheaper and tastier than canned beans.
  • 5 lbs of meatloaf -- stored in 1 lb freezer bags
  • Porcupine Meatballs -- I made this the day I made the meatloaf, so I only had to get my Kitchenaid mixer dirty once.  I froze in 1 pound bag.  I didn't form the meatballs, but I think you could make the meatballs, put them in the freezer for a couple hours on a cookie sheet and them freeze as meatballs in freezer bag.  I just didn't have the patience for that.  I figure it takes just a couple minutes to form meatballs, but mixing the meat and cleaning the bowl it's mixed in is the time consuming part.
  • Chicken Pot Pie -- I baked the crust for 8 minutes then added the warm filling.  I let it cool completely before freezing.
  • Chicken gravy for Chicken and Biscuits -- this is the same recipe I use for pot pie, so I just doubled it as  I made the pot pie and froze half separately.  And there you have two similar meals, but still different.

So as of today, I have 11 full meals made.  Beans and chicken stock for recipes.  It's a good start.  I'll keep updating as I go.  Since our daughter will be taking a lunch to school, I have a plan to freeze two soups a month.  This way she will have a variety of soup for lunches.

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