Saturday, September 10, 2011

Q: What are you going to do with 8 pounds of chicken breast? A: Freezer Cooking.

That is the abridged version of a conversation with a neighbor at a neighborhood gathering last Saturday.

I decided to cook both four pound packages of chicken that I picked up last week on sale for $1.99/lb instead of freezing in one pound portions.  I pulled out both of my slow cookers and put four pounds of raw boneless skinless chicken breast in each one.  I added barbecue sauce to one of them to make a batch of chicken barbecue and I added taco seasoning, Ro-tel tomatoes, and some other ingredients to the other one to make a chicken taco or burrito filling.  They both smelled great while they were cooking!

The taco/burrito filling is in the clear dish and the bowl is what I saved out for us for dinner. The chicken barbecue is in the black dish. I placed the bags in these dishes and then filled them with cold water and ice to safely cool them down before placing them in the freezer.

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I had  found some bread on the “stale bread” shelf in MARTIN’s on Tuesday and had about one and one-half loaves left.  I had recently seen this post on Money Saving Mom about making homemade uncrustables for the freezer and making croutons out of the leftover crust.  I already had the Pampered Chef gadget and thought that it would be nice to have some ready made sandwiches for Natalie’s lunch. 

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I tried making the sandwiches in the center of the bread, but because I wanted to save the crust for croutons I found it easier to just cut the bread first then press them together.

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I wrapped the individual sandwiches in plastic wrap and then placed them all in a gallon sized freezer bag.

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Yum! Butter, olive oil, italian seasonings and bread – what could smell better?!? We had a few more croutons before the picture. I had a few “quality control inspectors” passing through the kitchen when these were finished.

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I also had several onions that I received in my produce box from Dominion Harvest that I wanted to chop up and freeze.  I ended up chopping up three and a half large onions and placing them in snack size bags so they are recipe-size portions.  I later wrapped the individual bags in foil, then placed them in a large storage bag and a freezer bag to keep the entire freezer from smelling like onions.

I really don’t like to chop onions so hopefully having this many onions ready in recipe-sized portions will make fixing dinner a lot easier.

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I didn’t get everything finished that day, I had to go out to a parent’s night at school.  I did finally finish the last item on my agenda when I got a chance to cut up some of the beautiful peppers that I got in my produce box from Dominion Harvest.  I still had half of a large onion so I made portion sized bags of red and green peppers with onions for stir fry or fajitas and I chopped up one bag with assorted peppers and the rest of the onion to use for chili.

Cutting peppers is another chore I don’t like to do and hopefully this will make pulling dinner together easier and faster on busy weeknights.

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What do you have stored in your freezer?  What are some ingredients that you keep on hand for quick weeknight meals?  Do you have a favorite fix double, triple, or quadruple and freeze the leftovers recipe?  Please feel free to share. 

Happy Cooking & Freezing!

~Ann

8 comments:

Emily Morgan said...

Love it! SO handy... great idea.

Ann said...

Thanks Emily!

Miriam said...

I have a bucket of onions from my MIL that she gave me a while back. I should freeze some of them since I'm not sure I'll get them all used before they go bad. Freezer cooking is something I always "want" to do and think it would be so easy to have done... but the DOING part never happens. I guess it's not high enough on my priority list yet ;) I should really just start doubling a recipe here and there.

Ann said...

Miriam - I have found that if I utilize things like my slow cookers I can really get some extra dishes for my freezer. I admit it seems like an overwhelming concept sometimes, but I probably spent a max of 2 hours knocking out the things I posted. I would have finished the uncrustables faster, but I had helpers and it took some trial and error to find the best way to have sandwiches and croutons.

My favorite thing about freezer cooking is that I really don't have that much more to clean-up after cooking a bigger batch and it is even less to clean-up when we use one of those meals for dinner. :)

BTW - I have frozen onions and peppers lots of times - we don't really like either of them raw, so freezing them is a great solution to avoid waste and to have something on hand to add to pizza, chili, fajitas, or stir-fry.

WWadeII said...

Ann you might want to be on the lookout this winter for a deal on the Foodsaver vac-sealer. Last year they had the kit on sale for $39 (normally $100) during the holidays. Lets just say it comes in handy for these types of situations.

Ann said...

Actually my husband found the deal last year near Christmas and got it for me. I thought I would love it. I tried it a few times, but I don't love it.

The items have to either be in a second bag or already frozen in order to seal them if they have any liquid such as the barbecue and the burrito filling. It also recommends freezing raw meat or veggies partially before freezing them for the same reason, natural juices and water will be pulled out and prevent the bag from gettng a good seal. It even recommends partially freezing bread before vacuum sealing to keep it from being crushed.

When I have freezer cooking sessions like these I want to get them done and not have to wait for them to freeze then package or seal them. That was my experience - I know lots of people have them and love them. :)

Amara said...

Trying both your slow cooker ideas with my Tom Leonard's chicken. Thanks for reposting the link with this suggestion and for pointing out the TL sale!

Ann said...

Not a problem Amara. I hope you like both of the recipes. Check out allrecipes.com for other slow cooker ideas if you want to make more than barbeque and taco/burrito filling.