OK – Now we get down to the nitty gritty. I know you all know how to cook, so I am going to just put down some of my Best Practices when it come to Freezer Cooking and preparing all those meals.
Think Assembly Line When you have four recipes that called for chopped onions, get your food processor (or the food processor that you borrowed from your friend at church) and chop all those bad boys at once. (Another little trick that works well with onions: Light a wooden match and then blow it out. Hold the wooden part in your teeth while chopping onions to keep from crying. I don’t know why it works, but it does.)
“I despise chopping onions. I use my food processor on “Pulse”, to chop onions to keep in my freezer, freezing them flat in 1 gallon freezer bags. Whether I need 1 Tablespoon or 2 Cups, I can break off just enough to add to my recipes. It is also a great way to use up a large bag of Costco onions…which is about the same price as a tiny bag from Safeway.”
- Play mix and match – marinade style. When it comes to my marinades, I don’t discriminate on the types of meats I use – If I buy a ½ gallon of Yoshida Sauce (and you all should – it is YUMMY) I will line up my Ziploc bags each filled with a different meat (Chicken Breasts, Flank Steaks, Pork Roast, Pork Chops) and just pour the marinades over the meats. Instantly, I have four different kinds of meals – now all I have to do is come up with side dishes, and that is where I will get a little creative. (For example, with the chicken, I might chop it up after cooking and make rice and mixed Asian veggies for rice bowls. For the pork, I could serve it with veggie kabobs and grilled pineapple.)
Pictured here – Giant Pork Loins that I chop into thirds and get six family-sized meals out of each. For smaller families, your could get up to 12 meals out of these two pork loins.
- Pasta Preparation When I am doing a pasta casserole, I just use up any small pasta I have around – I don’t care if it is penne, macaroni or egg noodle. All of it works. Also, when preparing pasta for freezing, make sure it is al dente so that it doesn’t get mushy in the freezing/cooking process.
- Beg or Borrow Things that will Make Your Life Easier There is no need to chop peppers by hand when your neighbor has a Food Processor that she uses 4x a year. Ask if you can borrow it – and when you bring it back, present her with one of your home cooked meals as a thank you. For years we were frying ground beef and turkey in a stove top pan until I finally invested in a Presto 16″ Electric Skillet. Any step that saves me time (and keeps me encouraged to keep on Freezer Cooking) is worth weighing the costs on!
- Play Lots of Loud, Upbeat Music While Cooking
- Do Categories at Once I usually shop and prepare the marinades on Friday, and then leave the rest of the assembly (casseroles, chilis, soups, etc.) for Saturday.
Label EVERYTHING as it Goes into the Freezer No mysteries allowed. That defeats the whole purpose.