Hello there! This post is to complement my recent class on freezer meals. (For class times and my schedule for Las Vegas parents, please contact me anytime!)
We covered the basics in just 45 minutes… Scheduling, writing a meal plan, finding your most freezer-friendly meals, packaging different foods correctly for freezing, and working with the foods which are in season while you cook! Who doesn’t love having a clean kitchen but PLENTY of food when guests are over?! Freezer meals have kept our family on budget and have enabled us to spend more time together. That said, here are some specifics which will enhance your cooking and freezing now that you’re home!
Make a Helpful List
This is a simple task, but a very important one. (Read: It is worth the extra effort to write a designated list and NOT on the back of an old receipt!) 🙂 I use graph paper and check boxes just so I won’t miss anything. If I am going to be cooking several weeks’ worth of meals all at once, the last thing I want to do is pause to make another trip to the store! REMEMBER: Garnish is just that. Rather than purchase the feta cheese and cilantro for that soup you’re planning today, purchase it then. Herbs and dairy in general do not freeze as well as other things, plus the presentation will be vastly improved. You will be glad you purchased your garnish fresh, as it lends more flavor and nutrition! Account for these time differences in your list.
Choose Disposable or Reusable Containers
Breads and most baked goods are very well-preserved in a couple of layers of plastic wrap and aluminum foil, but a lasagna or pie will require a different means of storage and reheating. Think about this before you begin cooking… Is it worth purchasing some small metal pans for the meatloaf? Some families use the aluminum containers from the dollar store (stock up during Fourth of July and Thanksgiving sales!) to simplify things, and this is especially practical if you usually deliver meals to friends. For now, use whichever method that encourages you to keep up your momentum.
Freeze Soups, Sauces, and Fillings
Few things make me as happy as a bunch of pot pie filling lined neatly in the freezer, ready to be reheated and added to a crust! (Find my hands-down favorite crust here.) We make our soups, sauces and fillings in large quantities, as these are some of the easiest meals to reheat with little notice. Your favorite Alfredo, pea, and Swedish sauces can be ready in the time it takes for you to boil pasta! Soups and stews may be frozen as components or a whole, depending on the meal. I look forward to sharing more on this in the future!
Revive Old Bones
The larger chunks of bone (and even chicken feet) from your most recent meals are worth saving! These contain collagen and elastin among many other wonderful nutrients which are beneficial to the entire body.
According to Jennifer McGruther in her book Broth & Stock: “While stocks simmer for many hours until richly flavored, bone broths cook for considerably longer, often for half a day or up to two full days. At completion, the bones will have simmered so long that they typically crumble when pinched between the thumb and forefinger. This extended cooking time produces extremely flavorful results and extracts as much gelatin as possible as well as some minerals from the bones and connective tissue.
What an invaluable source of nutrition to have on hand for your family! I often save bones from one stew for the next… Leeching minerals from them twice still proves effective and imparts flavor.
I hope these tips have whetted your appetite for our next class on cooking and advanced preparation!