Thursday, September 14, 2006

The art of freezing

Let's talk about freezing. No, I'm not implying that it has gotten that cold here... I'm talking about filling your freezer with ready made meals. This is a huge help for busy people. What can you freeze? Just about anything. Except potatoes. They go mealy. Uck!! You can, however, freeze mashed potatoes.

Look, it's not that complicated. When you do have the time and energy to cook, make double. Freeze the difference! Pasta will continue to absorb the water in a soup so you may want to freezer a bag of cooked pasta separate from a soup and then add them together before serving. I'm personally not that fussy, I can handle thick soup. But for my clients, I freeze them separately. Barley too will do this. For stew, instead of adding chunks of potato, I make mashed and serve the stew over it. Then I can freeze then separately.

Now you may only think of the obvious things to freeze like soups, stews, chili, casseroles but think about separate courses too. I freeze meatloaf, sauted veggies, taco filling, quesadillas, calzones (yes, we made our own), pasta sauce and even stir-fries. I keep a list outside the freezer so I know what's inside and I cross things off as I take them out. This is not that time consuming, trust me. But the little extra effort goes a looooong way! Doing extra veggie side dishes is great because then you can just bake or grill a piece of fish, chicken or a steak to go with it and dinner is done.

Cooked meals shouldn't be kept in your freezer for longer than 6 months. And for goodness sake, LABEL things. Masking tape works perfectly. And then you aren't taking off lids wondering what in the heck is in the container! I label with content and date. And there is still more evidence that we shouldn't be microwaving in those leftover margarine type containers. Use real tupperware or rubbermaid if you heat in the container. I just store it in those leftover margarine containers and then take it out and put it in a microwave safe container. It only takes a minute under hot running water to loosen up the contents so they pop right out of the freezer container! No problem!

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