Friday, November 2, 2012

5 More Easy Steps to Get Started Freezer Cooking

2 more days of this blog series: Freezer Cooking: The Easy Way. If you have missed Day 1-6, they are at the bottom of this post. But today, I wanted to share 5 more easy ways to stock your freezer. Because freezer cooking really does not have to be a one day burn-out; you can stock your freezer overtime with very doable, easy steps like these:
 
 
1. Fill Ice Cube Trays with Tomato Paste
Most recipes using tomato paste only call for a few tablespoons out of the whole can! Don't throw the rest of the tomato paste away. Freeze it. Just pour that tomato paste into an ice cube tray (remember those? Do you kids know what those are?) and freeze the tomato paste into cubes.

When the tomato paste is completely frozen, pop the cubes into a Ziploc bag for a later recipe. One ice cube = 2 Tabelspoons. And then the next time you need only a few tablespoons of tomato paste, throw an ice cube into whatever you are cooking.

2. Fill Ice Cube Trays with Leftovers.
The following items can be frozen into ice cube trays just like tomato paste. When you do not use the entire carton, bottle, or bunch of the following items, freeze the rest into ice cubes for later use.

Buttermilk

Chicken Broth

Wine (for later use in sauces or soups. I have never tried this. Have you?)

Coffee (for later use in iced coffee so they do not get watered down. I don't drink coffee so I have not tried this either. . all the others I have tried.)

Fresh lemon or lime juice

Homemade baby food

Lemonade (to put in waters or iced teas)

Pesto (just drop a cube into hot pasta)

Chopped Herbs: just put fresh herbs in ice cube trays with a little water.

One ice cube = 2 Tablespoons.
2 ice cubes = 1/4 cup
4 cubes = 1/2 cup
6 cubes = 3/4 cup
8 cubes = 1 cup

Is there anything you freeze in ice cube trays that I have not listed?  Someone told me that they freeze the egg whites into ice cube trays for later use when a recipe only calls for egg yolks. I have not stumbled across a need for this yet, but worth a try instead of throwing the egg whites away.

3. Chopped Chicken
Bake, grill, or even cook a big batch of chicken in the crockpot and then cut it up into bite size pieces and flash freeze it (remember what flash freezing is? You want individual pieces frozen, not a big hard lump. See this post here where I share the specifics of flash freezing).

Once my bite size pieces of chicken are flash frozen, I stick them in freezer ziploc bags and store for quesadillas, recipes that call for cooked chicken, to put on top of salad, or for wraps.

If you do not want to cook the chicken, how about picking up a rostisserie from the grocery store and have some for dinner tonight and then shred the leftovers and put them in the freezer. This would be great for chicken tacos later this month.

4. Marinated Chicken or Pork
In my Meal Planning & Freezer Cooking class, I show you how I wash my chicken, trim the fat, put it in freezer ziploc bags, dump marinade on it, and make nice freezer sheets of marinated chicken. This is what I do with the majority of my chicken.


The night before or sometimes the morning of, I take a sheet of marinated chicken out of the freezer and let it defrost. As the chicken is defrosting, it marinates and then when hubby gets home, he grills it. 

For other chicken ideas, check out these posts:

4 Things I Do When Chicken Breasts Go on Sale

Corn Flake Chicken

5. Ground Beef or Ground Turkey (even Ground Sausage)
When you buy hamburger meat or ground turkey, go ahead and cook it all and put in  quart size Ziploc bags. 2 1/2 cups cooked ground beef/turkey/sausage = 1 pound. Then when you are ready to make spaghetti or chili, just take it out and add the frozen cooked meat to the pot.

This meat can also be taken out the night before and thawed and then used for tacos, sloppy joes, etc.  This is a MAJOR time saver!! 

In the picture below you can see my bags of cooked ground beef on the left. Brooke and I are making Crockpot Vegetable Soup in this picture.


Let's start this whole freezer cooking thing with very tiny steps. Is there one idea above that you can do this weekend? Take it slow. If you do one idea a week, eventually your freezer will be full with items that will make getting meals on the table quicker, easier, cheaper, and healthier. We really can do this! And I am here to help you, leave a comment or email me if you have any questions. Monday I will be back with Day 8 of this series, wrapping it all up. If you have any questions you would like to see answered in that last post, let me know.

Day 1: Why Make Time to Freezer Cook
Day 2: 5 Myths of Freezer Cooking
Day 3: 9 Baby Steps to Get You Started Freezer Cooking
Day 4: Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Muffins that Freeze Beautifully!

 
I am sharing this post at some of my favorite linky parties: Serenity Now

3 comments:

  1. I haven't used the ice cube tray method, but I will next summer when the basil and mint in my garden is in full force! I have frozen fresh ginger. You know it comes in a root and you have to chop it really fine (i use a food processor) and you only need a little per recipe. I peel and chop the whole piece and then scoop it into teaspoon size lumps, flash freeze it on a cookie sheet and throw it in the freezer. Then any recipe that calls for fresh ginger is a snap!

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  2. Su: other things I freeze in ice cube trays...

    I never need a whole can of chipotle peppers...so I freeze them individually some of the sauce in the cubes.

    Ro-Tel canned chile peppers/tomato.....again, more often than not, I just want a couple Tbs to "heat" up my portion of a dish (the rest of the family isn't big on spicy), so I freeze that in cubed increments.

    Bacon grease (but NOT in the cube tray). After making bacon, I strain the grease through a fine strainer. I keep a 1/2C or 1C of frozen bacon grease. It does not freeze up truly hard, so you can use the tip of a spoon to "scrape" strips off of it for cooking. I use it as the "oil" for braising meat, I throw a tsp or so into most soups and crock-pot dishes for added flavor, I use it to grease the pan for frying eggs. It just adds a little extra depth of flavor to things.

    Today I finish an experiment and will let you know how it goes. I was given not one, but TWO bags of "Amish Friendship Bread" (sourdough) starter. I usually freeze all but one cup of batter (that cup stays out as an active culture). Each cup of frozen batter can be thawed and treated as the "last step" of making the bread...to produce bread directly. So...at the end of a rotation, you are supposed to take out 4 cups to pass around. I freeze those cups individually and then can thaw them and have fresh loafs of cinnamon (or whatever flavor) bread without waiting 10 days to cycle through.

    Anyway, last night, I decided to try adding all the actual baking ingredients before freezing WITH THE EXCEPTION of b. soda, b. powder, the box of pudding mix, and the 3 eggs (I'm pretty sure I could've actually frozen the egg in it too...but didn't put the rising agents in b/c I figured they might react to early in the thawing process). This should allow me to have to only pull out a bag, thaw, add the rising agents, the eggs (I'll experiment later with mixing those in pre-freezing), and the pack of pudding, and bake.

    Rachel

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  3. I love cooking all my ground beef at once; I even started cooking it with chopped onion in it. Freezer two-for-one! Judy

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