Thursday, March 10, 2011

Menu Planning with the MARTIN’S Ad–Kind of

Have you tried any of the recipes that I have posted?  Do you have a family favorite that you would like to share?  I made the Asian Lettuce Wraps (or at least a version that my family would like) last week.  I didn’t buy the sesame oil and I checked to see how much it was to have on hand for the next time I make the lettuce wraps – it was $5 for a 10oz bottle!  I will have to look in an Asian market.  They were really good and I definitely see us eating them again. 

I was really uninspired by this week’s MARTIN’S ad for recipes and thought that I would take the time to instead talk about freezer cooking.  I have talked about it several times in the past and I spent about 3 days working on preparing and freezing foods about 2 weeks before Michael was born this past summer.  I love having a freezer full of goodies that I can always go to and pull stuff together for a meal for us or someone else.  It is because I have a stockpile of frozen meat, vegetables, and even fruit among other items in my freezer that I can have shopping weeks like I had last week.  I want to share some of the things that I keep in my freezer and then a few recipes.

I actually have 3 freezers.  We have a refrigerator in our kitchen and one in our garage, it came with the house and after a year of me complaining about it I convinced Steve to get me a nice side by side during a tax-free weekend for my everyday use.  I also have a chest freezer in the garage.  I lose a chunk of space in that freezer for long-term storage of things like sliced peaches and apples I froze in the summer and fall, and baking ingredients like nuts and coconut.  I keep frozen vegetables, and frozen products like waffles, Texas toast, frozen pasta, and rolls in that freezer.  I keep most of my frozen meat, casseroles, sauces, and cheese in the refrigerator freezer outside.  I keep items that are getting ready to be used in the freezer inside.  Right now I have homemade baby food, and opened packages of things like frozen fruit, pasta, or waffles. 

I mentioned that I have casseroles in my freezer.  I know some people cringe when they hear the word casserole.  Yes, I did freeze a chicken casserole, but it is usually various pasta dishes that I have made.  When I buy large packages of meat I will routinely divide them into close to one pound portions and freeze them individually.  I also make things up to a certain point and then freeze them like meatloaf, meatballs, and sausage.  I like to keep things on hand like cooked chopped chicken breast, diced onions, and chicken broth.  Some family favorites that I either double when I am making them or they make so much I freeze the leftovers for quick meals are pork or chicken BBQ, pizza sauce, chili, and taco meat.

Pizza Sauce:

I enjoy making pizza at home.  My girls always want to help when I make homemade pizza and enjoy taking ownership in the part of the pizza they got to help with.  I found this recipe for pizza sauce or breadsticks dipping sauce and I try to double it because it is so good and easy to make and then pour the leftovers into a freezer bag for the next time.  It is something you can easily play around with and adjust to what you and your family like.  I freeze these flat so that after they freeze I can easily sit them upright in the freezer to conserve space.  If you want to make your own pizza dough try out this recipe it is really good and you can also bake just the crust and then freeze that for a quick meal.  It will taste better and is better for you than a DiGiorno pizza. :)

Chicken Broth:

I call it broth, but after looking for an on-line recipe I discovered that really I am making Chicken Stock.  (That explains the really rich flavor!)  I will freeze chicken bones from cooking bone-in chicken or if we have a rotisserie chicken.  When I have two “carcasses” I will add whatever vegetables I have on hand usually carrots and onions in addition to celery leaves and a few bay leaves.  I make mine overnight in the crock-pot and strain it and pour it into zip-top freezer bags the next morning.  Here is a link to a post I wrote about a year and a half ago about how I transfer the chicken stock to the individual bags.

How about you – do you have any family favorites you like to keep prepped and on hand in your freezer?  Do you have multiple freezers?  Do you like to save space for things like meat in your freezer so you avoid buying things like frozen pizzas and waffles?  Do you have any meals that are easy to make ahead or double and keep in the freezer for busy nights?  Feel free to share.  :)

Happy Cooking (and freezing)!



Judi B said...

I took your advice and made pork BBQ. That's what we're having tonight and the rest is being divided to go into the freezer! YUM. I will have to try the pizza sauce. I have had good luck with a whole wheat pizza crust recipe I found in Everyday Food magazine - here is the link:
I freeze a lot of soups too. I will make a whole crockpot full of soup (even for just the two of us) and put at least one meal away in the freezer for another night or even divide it into single serve lunches since I'm not a big sandwich eater. My homemade soups have far less sodium than the can of soup I can eat on the quick from the grocery store.

Ann said...

Judi - I like the idea of freezing soup. That is a great idea for a quick, easy, and healthy lunch. Steve likes creamier soups and I haven't tried to freeze that before. What type of soups are you freezing - tomato, vegetable, chicken noodle?