Contributing Writer: Jamie Sanders
Getting Started With Freezer Cooking
One of the easiest ways to make dinner preparation a breeze is to have frequently used ingredients pre-cooked and pre-chopped. I try to keep my freezer stocked with recipe basics so when it’s time to start dinner, most of the ingredients are ready to go. This will shave 20 to 25 minutes of prep time off of my dinner making routine.
Some of the easiest ingredients to start with are:
Beans are and easy staple to prepare in a double batch. Once they have cooled, divide them into 1 or 2 cup servings and stick them right into the freezer. Any type of bean works, it just depends on what you use most. I like to keep white and black beans on hand.
I usually buy a large value pack of bone-in split chicken breasts or a whole chicken, (whichever is on sale) and toss it in the crock pot to cook. Once the chicken is done cooking, I remove the meat from the bones, divide it into 1 to 2 cup servings and put into regular sandwich bags. Then I stick the sandwich bags into a Gallon size freezer bag. (I have also done this with pork shoulder roasts when they are on sale, I will season the pork roast with mexican spices when cooking them this way.)
3. Chicken stock.
After I have cooked my chicken, I always toss the leftover bones into a stock pot, season with salt and pepper, cover with water and simmer for a few hours to make chicken stock. I let the stock cool in the fridge overnight and then skim the fat from the top. Once I have portioned the stock into freezer bags, I freeze flat for easy storage.
4. Ground beef. I like to brown a couple of pounds at a time. (Sometimes using two pans at once.) Ground beef is so versatile, I recommend storing it in the freezer unseasoned, that way it can be used in any type of dish.
5. Onions and bell peppers. I chop several at a time and freeze. Chopped onions tend to freeze in clumps. Two tips to help with this are to freeze the onions flat and break them up a little as they are freezing or freeze them into old ice cube trays and transfer to a freezer bag later.
The best part of this freezer cooking method is that you don’t have to do all the cooking at once, just work it into your regular meal preparation.
Here is your challenge: the next time you are grocery shopping, instead of buying cans of beans and the expensive boneless skinless chicken breasts, grab a couple of bags of dried beans and a big value pack of bone in split chicken breasts. (Check your local grocery store sales flyer, these are frequently on sale.)
To get you started with meal ideas, here are a few of my favorite quick dinner recipes that include beans and chicken.
|Pasta with White Beans, Chicken and Spinach|
|Creamy Cajun Pasta with Chicken or Spinach
(When the family size packs of Eckrich Sausage goes on sale, I always buy one and divide into meal size portions and freeze for later.)
|Penne with Chicken, Spinach and Tomatoes|
Happy freezer cooking! Leave me a comment if you have any additional questions.
What are some of your freezer meal favorites?