Welcome back! Hope you had a great Memorial Day with your family and friends. We had a great time together, even got a couple of mosquito bites (yay me).
One of the main things my Mom and I absolutely love to use in all of food storage methods is the Food Saver. It’s great for beginners, is easy to use, has been a meat saver, helped us to break down bulky packages from Sam’s Club and Costco, and we even use it to put up everyday items such as glue sticks, pens, markers, and matches. It’s a multipurpose device that you really can’t live without once you start using it. If you really get into vacuum sealing, there are other brands of sealers that are considered heavy duty and will stand up to long sessions of vacuum sealing. We have both a Food Saver and a Weston Vacuum Sealer.
Mom and I love to freeze cooked meat. It makes sense, if you buy a five pound package of hamburger cook it all up in a large pot and store it in one pound storage bags. It cuts down on cooking time in the kitchen on any given night, the bags help to minimize freezer burn and it doesn’t take as long to thaw the meat out. But we didn’t stop there! One of our family’s favorite dishes is a meatball casserole and the meatballs are courtesy of Grandma Moronis Meatballs via Food Network. Mom decided it was silly to just make one pound of meatballs each time we decide to want them. Dad buys five to ten pounds of ground hamburger when we need to make another mess of meatballs! The only thing we changed was that we used dried oregano instead of fresh, reduced the amount and added some basil. Bake them up and freeze 30 meatballs in each Food Saver bag. They last for months and wind up having enough for five to ten meals, this has helped our grocery bill immensely and cuts down on prepackaged frozen foods which are just full of chemicals.
There’s more to freeze….
- Pork Loin/chops
- Hand formed burger patties
- Chicken Thighs/Quarters
- Garden Vegetables
- Bell Peppers
- Hot Peppers
- Uncooked Bacon
- and more
We actually buy meat less often this way when we buy it in bulk, other vegetables such as squash and zucchini are also perfect to freeze. Even better they are great to add to soups right out of the freezer no thawing necessary.
Here’s another tip when storing meat that you intend to cook in your slow cooker:
Prior to freezing go ahead and season the meat (pork loin/chops, chicken, roast), place it in a food saver bag and seal. When you’re ready to use in a crock pot you can either thaw completely or put it right into the slow cooker frozen. Cook on low for 8-10 hours and the meat comes out perfect every time! I love doing this especially with pork loins and chicken thighs. Roasts however I prefer cooking two in a slow cooker with 1/2 cup of water and two packets of lipton onion soup mix. Let it cook all day, eat one for dinner with you favorite sides and store the other on in the freezer with half of the liquid. The next month use the frozen roast in a soup, casserole, in a pseudo philly cheese steak sandwich or as is for another meal! Doesn’t get much easier than that!
Dad likes to buy the Tyson Natural Chicken Breasts from Sam’s Club. It dawned on me to just cook up the entire back in a large stock pot with some veggies to make a light broth. Once the chicken is done chop it up and store it in a freezer bag labeled one pound with the date. The broth is then stored in freezer bags, two cups per bag, and laid out flat on a cookie sheet pan until frozen then transferred to a freezer storage bin. The homemade broth is healthier, less sodium, and you can use it for any dish that may call for water or white wine.
I know what you’re thinking, I don’t have the kind of storage that you do obviously so I can’t do any freezer storage. Yes you can! You don’t have to start on the level that we’re on, keep it small. Freeze any leftovers from dinner in lunch packets (quart size freezer bags properly labeled including date) for the next month, buy extra bell peppers, chop each one up and store in freezer bags, one bell pepper per bag. Buy jumbo mushrooms, slice up, cook with a little olive oil until they have reduced slightly and again store in freezer bags. This what we did for the longest time and it helped to make dinner prepping go by so much faster. Instead of spending 30 minutes in the kitchen you can easily save 10 minutes by prepping your food ahead of time.
My challenge to you: sit down this week and think about where you could start and how you can begin making room for a couple of extra items. Remember, if a college student living in an apartment with a very small freezer can do it then so can you! Start small, take that first step to further cutting your budget and building up your own “store” supply.
- Say “freeze!” All you need to know about Freezer Cooking – recipes and tips for great Freezer Meals (chefandsteward.com)
- My love for freezing – everything! (feelinggreathealth.com)
- Homemade Frozen Food (cansuskitchen.wordpress.com)
- Top ten tips for a thrifty kitchen (thriftlane.wordpress.com)
- Frozen Carrots – for the backyard gourmet (tomatotales.com.au)
- Food Storage Products I Buy (myfoodstoragecookbook.com)
- 13 Delicious Ways to Use Up Leftover Ham (dailysavings.allyou.com)
- Real Food on a Budget: 7 Tips for Eating Well in a Recession (eatdrinkbetter.com)