Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays

Last week for kitchen tips, I asked for opinions about food slicer vs. electric knife. I want to thank everyone for their input. It was greatly appreciated!! I have decided that I am going to keep both of them. I know that I will use the food slicer on a regular basis for doing food prep as I purchase large blocks of cheese and chubs of boneless meat that both can be sliced and frozen. The electric knife will come in handy for loaves of homemade bread and also for those times when I want to quickly slice a roast while making a meal.

I was having a hard time coming up with a tip this week to share. So I headed over to Tammy's Recipes to see what others had posted and saw that she had posted an email from a reader who was wondering about freezing meals for her grandmother. I have done this for my grandmother and I am working on doing this as well for my mother and father. So I decided that I would explain what I have done.

First, I worked at making sure that I had some freezer containers that were acceptable for the freezer and could be used in the microwave. Your best bet is getting some Rubbermaid type containers because those probably will last longer than getting just Gladware or Ziploc brand plastic containers. I would get various sizes and types of containers, so that you can have some for soups, and some for a full meal(maybe look into getting one that is divided into compartments). I would also get some quart size freezer bags for those food items that don't need to go into a plastic container. I would get enough so that you could do a week's worth of dinner meals. Now you have your containers you can fill them!!

What are good things to put in those containers:
  • beef stew
  • chicken noodle soup
  • chicken rice soup
  • spaghetti
  • chili
  • stuffed shells
  • pork chops
  • chicken pot pie
  • salisbury steak
  • Meatballs- either with tomato sauce or with a brown gravy
  • crustless type quiches
  • pot roast with veggies
  • lasagna
  • shepherd's pie

Things with a cream or milk based, I have not had good success with freezing them. Also anything with noodles in it, I don't cook the noodles all the way. That way the dish doesn't end up with mushy, broken down noodles.

Other items that could be put together...

For sloppy joes, and BBQ pork or beef, I put these into individual serving type containers. Then I put the container and a hamburger bun in a ziploc bag so that the person I am making the meals for would know that the two things go together.

For the meatloaf, I make them into individual mini loaves and cook them and then once cooled wrap in foil or plastic wrap and then stick in a freezer bag labeled "meatloaf". That way they could take out the individual loaves and heat up rather than a big loaf. I would also do up some burgers by cooking them and then individually wrapping them and placing them into a quart size ziploc bag.

As for other meals, like breakfast type things, I do up pancakes, french toast, breakfast sandwiches(english muffin or biscuit, cheese, eggs, and a meat), and breakfast burritos. Wrap the sandwiches individually and place in the ziploc bags. For the pancakes and french toast, I would just put wax paper between the layers or flash freeze them and place them in a freezer bag.

Don't forget to add some baked goods to your meals! Homemade breads, quick breads, cookies, coffee cakes, and cakes freeze very well! I even take the time to slice and wrap the breads and cakes into individual servings. Then I put them in a ziploc bag with a label.

The main thing to remember with doing freezer type cooking is that some meals will have a bit of texture change with being frozen compared to being fresh. So I do not make up too many meals ahead of time. Also make sure that you get your containers back so that you can do "refills" for your loved ones!

For more kitchen tips, head over to Tammy's Recipes!!!!


Amanda said...

I've never done this before, but reading this is kinda getting me excited - I'm ready to go in my kitchen and start cooking up things to freeze. How long can you freeze a meal for?

Sonshine said...


Freezer meals should last in the freezer for 6-8 weeks and still have the "fresh" taste to them.

As for baked goods, those can last longer in the freezer, like 3-4 months, and still have a good "fresh" taste to them.

Kirstin said...

Thanks for visiting my site! I loved your tip as well. My MIL uses her electric knife for her homemade bread and loves it!


Mom2fur said...

Aren't freezer meals such a blessing? I tell you, there is nothing like reaching into a freezer for a ready-made meal--or at least a main course--when you are feeling crummy!
As far as baking...when I make cupcakes, I always freeze half in a shoebox or something else that will keep them from getting crushed. It is a nice treat to take them out a month or so later and just have to add icing!

Anonymous said...

I've used those Ziploc containers (and hefty) and reuse them all the time. Never had a problem w/them. I freeze, reheat, store etc in them. I don't think there is much of a difference for me. And you get more for your dollar.