Getting Started With Freezer Cooking
Freezer cooking can save your sanity and transform the way you prepare for dinner.
Imagine yourself. . .
. . .always knowing what's for dinner.
. . . having meals prepared 'just in case' you are running late or feeling sick.
. . . pulling something out to reheat in the oven or microwave that needs ZERO prep work, just heat and eat.
. . . knowing that every ingredient in your meal is quality - no more artificial flavors, preservatives or fillers
Imagine what you'd do with all the time you'll regain by making freezer cooking a part of your lifestyle.
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Even if you're new to freezing food you've probably heard those "30 meals in one day" claims. It's called Once a Month Cooking or OAMC. And Guess what?
OAMC isn't' easy. With OAMC you assemble 30 meals in one day but you spend a full day preparing the ingredients and a ton of time planning and shopping before that.
I want to show you a way that is easier.
Because there are other things you want to do during the weekend.
Instead I'd like to show how, when you have time, you can dove-tail your efforts in the kitchen to save time later.
I call these techniques Time Savers, Budget Keepers, Meal Starters and Meal Kits. Plus you can freeze Prepared Meals with less stress than OAMC through Batch Cooking and Session Cooking.
That is what freezer cooking is all about after all, fitting your lifestyle-not making you change to fit it in.
Most beginners try to pick the type of make ahead cooking that is right for them. They choose between Once A Month Cooking, Once a Week Cooking, Meal Swaps or Batch Cooking (doubling and tripling meals).
But Time Savers, Budget Keepers, Meal Starters and Meal Kits are the kind of techniques that pros use.
Either way you've got some basics to learn.
You've got to learn what can freeze well and what can’t or you'll just be wasting your time and money.
Then clean out all those old yogurt and margarine containers, you need real high quality containers to protect your meals from freezer burn. Freezer burn is essentially your food getting dehydrated because of the cold air. Quality freezer containers are moisture and vapor proof so they protect your food.
Before anything gots frozen it needs to be cool. Hot foods take longer to freeze and raise the temperature, which is bad for all your other frozen assets. Try to keep your freezer at it's ideal temperature, 0F.
Size matters too. Smaller portions freeze and thaw faster than larger dishes. And never freeze more than your family can eat. The most flexible way to get as much or as little as you want from your freezer cooking is to flash freeze food so you can freeze individual pieces instead of just large servings for better flexibility. Flash freezing means you freeze food flat in small pieces then repackage it instead of freezing it in a giant unusable lump. This technique not only saves time in the long run but cuts down on waste.
From the beginning, try to organize your freezer cooking so you can find your Time Savers, Budget Keepers and meals when you want them. Keeping it all in the right spots also helps you stay prepared for power outs. If something does happen little things like keeping raw meats on the bottom could save you a ton of hassle.
Another good habit to start from the beginning is keeping an inventory so you always know what's available. You'll also be labeling your food with some sort of title and the date.
Having the date on the package really helps. Food doesn't rot while frozen but in salty high fat foods (like bacon and sausage) the fat can go rancid and in vegetables the natural enzymes can cause they to keep rippening and eventually to rot; avoid this by blanching them first.
With the date on the container though you can just follow my >three quick rules for storage times. If you're the detail oriented type feel free to read up on the little factors that influence storage times.