We spent our weekend on Oahu (post to come!) so I haven’t meal planned or shopped for this week. I did prepare ahead of time by making extras of several meals over the last two weeks for the freezer. We’ll be good to go for the first few days of the week while I get my act together. In the meanwhile, this seems like a good time to share my tips on freezing foods. So, straight from a cabana in Waikiki, here’s how I make my freezer work for me:
Foods That Freeze Well
- Breakfast casseroles that are egg based freeze great. I typically bake, slice into single servings, wrap in aluminum foil, and toss in the freezer. (Disclaimer: After recently studying the mineral module for my NTP certification, I’m looking for a new alternative to the aluminum foil solution.) I try to plan ahead and defrost in the fridge, which leads to a much better texture than nuking in the microwave from frozen.
- Mealballs are so easy to make in bulk and then freeze, it’s a no brainer.
- Salmon cakes freeze well! This is a recent discovery for me and I’m excited. Since I prefer to eat my salmon cakes room temp, I let them defrost first. If you prefer them warm/hot, you could try heating from frozen.
- Ground meat is a freezer staple of mine. Often times when I’m making taco meat or another seasoned ground meat, I will double and freeze one pound. It’s an easy way to get a stash of meals going in your freezer without a lot of extra work.
- Stews and chili taste great post-freeze. I hadn’t thought of this rule of thumb before, but I’m thinking that if you can make it in the crockpot, you can likely freeze it. These meals typically don’t loose their texture once defrosted. I like to reheat on the stovetop as that helps with some of the liquid that seems to accumulate while frozen.
- Soup is souper (ha!) easy to freeze. I try to always double a batch of soup and freeze half for later. Such an easy vegetable side for dinner and usually has the added bonus of bone broth.
- Speaking of, bone broth! Keep a freezer stash full and you will never again have to use store bought broth with it’s long list of ingredients.
- Vegetables are more tricky (for me at least). Grated sweet potato is about all I freeze. Suggestions? Leave ’em in the comments, please!
Crockpot Freezer Meals
I wish I had a long list of ideas for you here. Crockpot ready frozen meals seem awesome in theory and I love the idea of once-a-month cooking. Salsa chicken verde (there are a million recipes out there) is the only idea I’ve had that meets my ingredient requirements and doesn’t turn out mushy. I start by tossing all the ingredients in a freezer bag (make as many freezer bags/meals as you have space to freeze!). The night before I want to cook it, I toss it in the fridge to defrost. You could skip this, but it might be hard to get the food out of the freezer bag if it’s rock solid. Then I toss it in the crockpot to cook. If you have other ideas, I’d love to hear them.
Tips for freezing food
- Follow safety standards. I’m not an expert here so read up on your own and do what you need to do. I always make sure to let food cool before putting it in the freezer. I buy the freezer safe glass jars and never fill past the indicated max fill line.
- Label your food. I know you think you will know what it is, but I promise you won’t remember. I use either painters tape or masking tape to write on with a sharpie. Include the item, the date, and the number of servings or amount.
- Buy smaller glass freeze ware. I find that freezing and defrosting single (I do double as well since there are two of us in the house) portions is the most likely way for me to actually make it through my food stash without wasting. I like knowing I can defrost one or two meals worth of something and not be eating a stew for the next six nights in a row.
- Freezer friendly mason jars are great as well, I’ve been using them for everything lately (both in the freezer and just as tupperware now that I’ve thrown out almost all of our plastic). I use both the pint and the two pint sizes.
- Also freeze non-meal food in different quantities so you don’t have to defrost more than you need. I try to have varying amounts of bone broth frozen (ice cube sized, 1 cup, and 2 cup). For shredded sweet potatoes I often do a few 1 cup and a few 2 cup portions.
- If space is a concern, try freezing soups, stews, chili, and broth in freezer bags, laying them flat. Once frozen they will be nice and flat and you can stack several on top of each other, or “file” them standing upright.
Enjoy your week!