Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Frozen Assets – Part 6: Store It Up – Meal Preps

Today is the last segment of our Frozen Assets series. If you have missed any of the previous segments, here is a quick recap:

Part 1 – Using Up Fruit

Now, let’s look at ways to save time in the kitchen by preparing ingredients in advance and storing them in the freezer.

Ground Beef – The Diva family eats a lot of ground beef. This year, we purchased ½ of a cow from a local farm, which included 60+ pounds of ground beef. Whenever we brown ground beef for a recipe, rather than just browning one pound, we brown two or three pounds. Then we use the beef we need for the recipe, and the rest goes back into the freezer. With precooked ground beef on hand, we can quickly reheat it and have tacos on the table in less than 5 minutes.

Beans – Thanks to my favorite crockpot blog, I recently learned how to cook dry beans in the crockpot. When they are cooked and cooled, I package them in sandwich-sized bags in one-cup servings, and then I put them into a large freezer bag. When I’m heating up tacos, I can grab a cup of precooked beans from the freezer, and toss it in. Beans are a great way to add fiber to a meal and to stretch a pound of ground beef.

Chicken – I buy the 3 pound packages of frozen boneless, skinless chicken. Rather than cooking one chicken breast here for one recipe and another there for another recipe, I cook the whole package at once in my crockpot. I use what I need for the recipe I am preparing that night, and then I shred and package the rest into meal-sized servings and store it in the freezer. Having shredded cooked chicken on hand, we can quickly reheat it and toss it into stir fry, wraps, or salads for a meal in minutes.

I hope this series has inspired you to think about ways you can use your freezer to extend the life of your food, save money, and stretch your grocery budget. With a little planning and creativity, there are many ways to make mealtime easier, less stressful, and more nutritious by having meals on-hand rather than eating out.

Now it’s your turn. Leave a comment and tell us what your favorite way is to use your freezer. What do you freeze, and how has it helped you to save money?

1 comment:

Melinda said...

We (okay, husband)raise beef cattle so we usually butcher once a year.

I also use it to store my stockpile items. I always buy several bags of shredded cheese when it hits rock bottom prices in my area.

I have also been buying tons of frozen vegtables with those Green Giant $1.00 coupons, making them almost free! :)

And chicken when it goes on sale.

I've enjoyed your series. Lots of great ideas!