All of the blogs I researched said not to do your cooking/preparing/freezing on the same day that you shop. I’m sort of short on time, so I broke that rule. Big mistake! I didn’t realize the experience had taken so much out of me until I was straight in the middle of putting away my chicken (the last thing on the list). Luckily, Matt was a team player and came to save me, because I was about to throw it all in the trash and walk away! It went much quicker with an extra set of hands.
If you read my shopping post, you remember that I stocked up on hamburger meat that was dated for that day, so I knew I had to cook it quickly. (I’m a stickler for expiration dates, so I was paranoid about acting fast.) We were planning on having tacos that night, so I made 2 lbs into taco meat. We ate some that night and had enough for 2 additional meals to freeze. This worked great because each time we have tacos, we end up throwing away a good bit of meat. This way, we had enough for a third meal! We haven’t tried the frozen taco meat yet, but I’ll report back on how it turns out.
After the tacos, I had 8 lbs of ground beef left, so I took to browning! I browned approximately 3 lbs at a time, drained it, and dumped it in a large storage container. After all the meat was browned, I left it to cool on the counter for a bit. (You shouldn’t put hot foods straight in to the freezer or fridge.) Once it was cool, I sorted the meat into one pound increments. I panicked at first because once the meat was all mixed together, I didn’t know how much a pound was. I don’t have a fancy meat scale. No worries though…I have a handy husband. He said a pound of hamburger meat was about 2 cups. (How does he even know all these random things??!) So, I measured out somewhere between 2-2 1/2 cups and poured into freezer bags. Before adding the meat, I wrote on all the bags and included the date so I would know how long it would be in the freezer. I’m a stickler for dates, remember?
|All bagged and ready to go!|
The most important thing about freezing in freezer bags is to remove every last bit of air that you can. This is what keeps foods from getting freezer burn and ruining.
The next day, I worked on all the other meats. I marinated a few steaks and put in bags of 2. I did the same with pork chops using this recipe. We haven’t tried them yet, but they smelled promising! Finally, it was time to do the chicken…dreadful chicken. As I mentioned before, most of our menu this month was chicken. Here’s a tip: don’t save your biggest task to last. Seriously, if Matt wouldn’t have come to help, I would have thrown the last of that stupid chicken in the yard and went to bed.
I had an assortment of breasts and tenderloins. I washed them all and piled onto a cutting board. I used my kitchen shears to trim them up so there would be less to do before cooking. (If you don’t have kitchen shears…get some!) After trimming all of the yucky stuff off (technical language), I moved them to a second cutting board where I sorted them by what was needed for each recipe. Even though most of the chicken was frozen plain, I still wrote the recipes on each bag. This will keep us from using chicken that was planned for another meal. It will also be easy to just pull out a bag for whichever recipe we want to make…less thinking involved.
Since this was my first experience, I didn’t do quite as much in advance as I could have. I realized when making this Parmesan Chicken, that I could have boiled the chicken before freezing it. Oh well, I’ll pay closer attention next time.
So far, it’s going well. The only major hiccup is that I’m not in the habit of taking the next day’s meal out the night before. Luckily, we have a pretty awesome defrost setting on our new microwave, so we can thaw things that way. But, I plan on getting better at doing it the night before.
All in all, it’s been successful. I can’t really tell a difference in the frozen meats vs fresh…especially if they thaw naturally. The biggest source of convenience is not having to go to the grocery store each week. I feel so relieved! Plus, we’re coming in under our food budget for this month. That’s a nice bonus! I’ll keep everyone updated about new findings and experiences regarding my stocked freezer. I promise my next post won’t be quite so long! There are just too many details for this topic!
I want to thank everyone for caring enough to read (especially these long ones). I’ve had fun sharing my experiences, and it’s so encouraging to have those of you who are wanting to keep up.