Friday, January 10, 2014

Freezer Meals Made Easy: Tips You Should Know

Having a fully stocked freezer is a great feeling.  Especially during winter months when everyone is busy or you just want to snuggle in and stay at home.  I particularly love how a stocked freezer means I can go to the grocery less often!  That is a task I can do without!

I recently did a post on stocking up on freezer meals, so I thought I'd share a few tips I've learned along the way:

 - When filling large freezer baggies with food, fold the top down for easier filling and to keep your bag clean.  No duh, right?  Still, I wiped down many bags before I got into this habit.

 - Place baggies in a dish, such as a pie plate, to hold them up right while you're filling them.

 - Purchase disposable aluminum pans at the dollar store.  Square ones are handy to divide casseroles easily if you have a small family. 

 - Often freezer meals can be placed frozen into a crockpot.  I often do this with great results.  Just don't place a frozen meal into a hot crockpot or it could crack.   

 - Purchase ground beef in bulk.  I like the 5 lb. packages from Costco.  Then cook the whole thing.  Use a ladle to scoop the ground beef evenly into baggies for freezing.  Usually makes 4-5 one pound packages. 

 - Precooked ground beef is great for tacos.  Toss it in the skillet frozen and it'll heat through in a jiffy. Buy taco seasoning in bulk, and keep shells in your pantry.  With a bag of pre-shredded iceberg lettuce, you'll have tacos ridiculously fast.  

 - Purchase 1 or 2 roast chickens (the ones at Costco are huge!) and shred them.  Freeze the shredded chicken ready for adding to soups, enchiladas and casseroles.  Use the chicken bones for making an easy stock and freeze that too!

 - Double your cookie recipes.  Roll cookie dough into log form and freeze for easy slicing and quick homemade cookies later.  

 - I love to have homemade mac and cheese on hand (this recipe in fact, The Lady's Cheesy Mac).  It's particularly handy for quick meals for my daughter.  I would make a large batch and bake it in muffin tins for individual servings.  Then recently I made a 9x13 size dish. It's too much for my family so I cut it into individual servings and froze it.  Ugh!  That's so much simpler!!  From now on, I'll just make a tray and cut it into squares and freeze it.  Pop a serving into the microwave for 1-2 minutes and you're set.

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