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 PasteMost 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.
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