Saturday, October 30, 2010

Everday Freezer Cooking

I am in awe of the stay at home moms that manage to pull off cooking once a month.  They meticulously plan a menu for a month at a time and freeze multiple batches of lasagna and other dinners.  I'm not up for the challenge just yet...but, I have been  finding little ways to make my freezer work for me - everyday.

  • Buying in Bulk
We have a larger family and buying in bulk is just becoming a necessary part of life in general, but it has also saved us a lot of money.  We don't pay for a club store membership, but I've been able to find bulk packs of meat at our grocery store for half the price of regularly portioned packs.  I divide them up into freeze bags in the amount needed for various meals.

  • Homemade Baby Food
This is so easy and saved us $20 a week.  I just steam some veggies, puree and pour into ice cube trays.  Once frozen, I pop out the cubes and throw them in a freezer bag.  I have to admit, the first time I did this, I would open my freezer just to admire the rainbow of frozen baby food knowing that I was saving money and making something wholesome for my baby that wasn't sitting on a shelf for who knows how long.

  • Single Servings
I eat lunch with the kids everyday...but that doesn't mean that I want to eat like a kid.  I have had more than my full of PB&J's and grilled cheese sandwiches.  Sometimes I will cook just for me.  Split pea soup or lentils and rice.  Yum!  Then I divide it into single servings and freeze them for my lunches.  Super easy and way better than opening a can of store bought soup.

  • Leftovers
This may seem obvious, I'm sure we all save leftovers, but I've found that when I put them in the fridge if they aren't used the next day, they usually get lost or forgotten about and eventually thrown away.  I freeze leftovers of ingredients too.  If I use half a jar of pasta or pizza sauce, I pour it into freezer bag, freeze it laying flat, then they can be stacked on the shelf.  If I roast a whole chicken, I shred the extra meat to save for chicken pot pie or other recipes that don't require a lot of meat.  I've also frozen ham bones and picked over turkeys and chickens for making soup with later.

  • Baked goods
This is my new favorite thing to use my freezer for.  It really isn't any more work to double a recipe.  While my cookies are baking in the oven, I flash freeze balls of cookie dough on a wax paper lined tray.  When they are frozen, I throw them in a zipper bag labled with the oven temperature.  Then when we want warm, homemade cookies, I bake as many as we need right from frozen, just adding a few minutes to the cooking time.
And don't forget pancakes and waffles!  They freeze really well and can be reheated in the microwave or toaster. 

  • Popsicles
I don't think I will ever buy a box of Popsicles again!  I found popsicle molds for $1.  Fill them with juice and you have a summer favorite for pennies.  I also use pureed fruit.  Watermelon and strawberries are our favorites.

Freezer cooking doesn't have to be an event.  A little extra effort here and there can save your family a lot and make your life a little more wholesome.

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