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Freeze ahead/making single sized meal portions.



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MISSRUTH
Posts: 3,009
4/2/13 6:44 A

There are only 2 of us in the house now, but I rarely cook just enough for 2-- I routinely make enough for 4 or 8 (or more, if I'm using my gigantic crock pot), and then freeze the leftovers. I love having something quick to fix for supper, because it's already cooked.

You've gotten some great suggestions; the only thing I would add is, when you freeze stuff, make sure it's as airtight as possible (air is what causes freezer burn). Sometimes it's easier to ladle soups, stews, chilis etc into ziplock freezer bags, press out all the air, and then freeze them flat-- they stack up in the freezer and take up less space if they're flat. And be sure to label things. I once took what I thought was chili for lunch at work, only to find out when I went to heat it up that it was actually spaghetti sauce. (!!)



IMREITE
SparkPoints: (223,727)
Fitness Minutes: (205,234)
Posts: 11,259
4/1/13 11:40 P

i will make something in my slow cooker or make a little extra of something during the week for supper and then have some leftovers. my coworkers are generally jealous.



NMINDSEYE
Posts: 26
4/1/13 11:18 P

Thanks everyone for all your tips!



NIRERIN
Posts: 11,523
3/31/13 6:19 P

if you're unsure about something, test freeze. yogurt cups are the best containers for freezing a small portion of food and seeing how it thaws and how you like the texture change.
i am single and live alone, so i cook for just me. if i am making something like chili [which i already know freezes well] i will make at least four portions. one for tonight's dinner [because i have to eat something so i may as well eat fresh], one for lunch or dinner in the next few days and the rest to be divided up into portions to be cooled and frozen. i rarely make a meal specifically just for freezing, so for me it is just working recipes that freeze well into the week and making enough to have frozen dinners later.
i've found that some foods [zucchini, potatoes] get mushy if i make them then freeze them. so if i am making a recipe with one of those ingredients then i will actually portion out the containers to be frozen before it's done. and i should note a few things here. i eat a lot of vegetarian meals, so underdone isn't a huge issue. if you were using pork or chicken or seafood this might not be the way to go. but if you are using something that can be eaten raw you can take the freezing portions out to cool 10 minutes into that last 30 minute simmer [so only the portions you are eating now are actually finishing cooking] so that they get their final cook as they reheat after being frozen. i've also found that if i am using greens of any sort, they do much better chopped up and in something somewhat liquidy [like a soup or sauce] because the texture change is a little off. i also make sure that i use them in recipes where they are one of many ingredients so that the difference isn't overwhelming.



SPKRAUSE
Posts: 543
3/31/13 12:06 P

I don't freeze many single servings, but I do make a lot of single-serving dishes, but mostly things I refrigerate and eat through the week.

I make the dishes in a large batch and usually store -- soups, beans -- them in ramekins or custard cups. The servings tend to be about 1/2 cup, though the containers hold 3/4 cup. If I want to do single-servings of casseroles or casserole-like dishes (e.g. baked mac-and-cheese), those custard cups and ramekins come in handy again, and the dishes get made/baked in them. Individual mini-quiches: use a 12-muffin tin, for example.

These are a few things that work for me. I guess I could be more detailed or complicated, but I'm not there yet.



ALGEBRAGIRL
Posts: 1,240
3/31/13 11:35 A

Make a breakfast sandwich with a lightly toasted english muffin, a fried egg (trim the egg to make it fit better on top of the muffin) and some low-fat cheese. I don't add a slice of deli ham, but you could do that. I have cooked some bacon and put a slice of bacon in the sandwich. Wrap in some wax paper and then wrap again in something like saran wrap, more securely (or even aluminum foil). Freeze. You can take it out, pop it in the microwave and have a breakfast sandwich in something like 1.5-2 minutes (play with the time so that you know how long for your microwave, and on what power; I actually unwrap and rewrap with aluminum foil and then heat mine in a conventional oven.

What makes this work for me is double-wrapping the sandwich. I suppose you could put the aluminum foil on the inside and then wrap it all tightly with saran wrap and that makes more sense. It depends on whether you plan to use the microwave or the oven to heat up the sandwich.

I have made a half-dozen of these sandwiches and stacked them in the freezer. The only problem with this sandwich is it is TOO easy to prepare and eat, and actually it is quite a substantial meal if you are on a diet.

Edited by: ALGEBRAGIRL at: 3/31/2013 (11:35)


CMCOLE
Posts: 2,667
3/30/13 12:29 P

I make family-sized things (say shepherds pie) and divide it according to whatever the recipe says it gives for servings, freezing in plastic containers and defrosting when I need them.

You can do the same with casseroles, cabbage rolls, soups.
Also, portion-sized sauces (like spaghetti sauce) are awesome to have on hand.



MUSCATDBQ
SparkPoints: (3,423)
Fitness Minutes: (1,664)
Posts: 214
3/30/13 9:33 A

One thing that I have had success with is making up a big pot of spaghetti sauce and then portioning it into large ice cube trays and freezing. Once frozen, I transfer them to a freezer bag. Then, I can take out exactly how many I want for a meal. I've got 1/4 cup size silicone trays though so that makes it a little easier.

Also, cook up ground meats. Season as you like...I like adding a homemade taco seasoning or garlic and onions, etc. However you normally season your ground meat. Then freeze it in 3 oz (or whatever you generally use) bags.

When it is time to eat and you want something quick, it is easy to grab some cubes of sauce, a bag of meat, and throw it on something...spaghetti squash, soaghetti noodles, baked white or sweet potato, etc. It is also easy to grab a bag of meat and some frozen stir fry veggies and make a quick stir fry.

I also cook and freeze brown rice to have handy for quick meals and will cook a whole chicken in my crock pot and then portion that meat out and freeze as well...great for soups, casseroles, etc.

Lastly, "process" your meat as soon as you buy it and then freeze it so it will be ready to go when you take it out of the freezer. So if you like fajitas, cut up your pound of chicken breasts and add some fajita seasoning. Throw in the freezer in whatever portion size you will use. If you like baked chicken Parmesan or want to make quick chicken sandwiches, cut the chicken into 4 oz serving sizes and then pound it thin so it is ready to go. I usually also cube some and make some into nugget size. Then, all I need to do is throw it in the fridge in the morning, thaw in hot water, or just cook it frozen (depending on what I'm making and how much time I have).



SLIMMERKIWI
SparkPoints: (111,904)
Fitness Minutes: (31,780)
Posts: 20,413
3/30/13 6:33 A

I bulk cook casseroles and soups and freeze in single serve containers. Just make sure that you have enough containers. Most of my containers are margarine containers or those plastic ones from serve-over delis. I generally do at least 10 meals at a time, and have quite a variety in the freezer. It makes life so much easier and saves heaps of money, too! You save on power/gas because it is the one lot of cooking, and you save on the cleaning up. You can also save money on the ingredients by taking good advantage of specials with veges and meats (the cheaper cuts of meat are good for casseroles, just make sure that the fat is removed, or buy lean meat on special.) I weigh all of my ingredients and write them down, then divide each one by the number of servings it has made, and enter that into the Nutrition Tracker in the Groupings section. I name and date each one with a permanent marker (can use methylated spirits to remove after it's used) and enter the name and date in the Groupings title for easy access when I eat them. Then I can keep an accurate tab on my nutrition.

My meat casseroles have loads of finely chopped or pureed veges and lentils in them, and in fact, one 'meat serve' actually has a proper serving of veges in it, too :-)

I can use exactly the same meats/veges and yet have quite a different 'dimension' on them - using red kidney beans and a little chilli gives it a 'Mexican' dimension, or Sweet Basil and extra tomato paste an 'Italian' dimension. Then of course, curry gives it another dimension again.

The beauty of this is that if you are too rushed or tired to cook extra veges (mine are nearly all cooked unpeeled for extra nutrition and saving money), then you can have toast with it and it is still a healthy meal. Otherwise, it really doesn't take anything to wash a few potatoes and carrots, grab some frozen peas and cook, and heat the casserole in the microwave. If you have steaks, then freeze them free-flow style but all in the one bag. You can take out and thaw just the amount you need.

Kris



Edited by: SLIMMERKIWI at: 3/30/2013 (06:36)


MICHELLEXXXX
SparkPoints: (5,406)
Fitness Minutes: (5,730)
Posts: 1,509
3/30/13 5:51 A

My method:
Cook and portion fresh meats into containers. If meat is frozen, leave frozen and portion into containers for the week.
Add 1+ cups frozen veggies as side.
Store in marked airtight freezer-proof container.



NMINDSEYE
Posts: 26
3/30/13 5:30 A

I'm looking for ideas or tips on how to begin doing this. Can any one of you who does this give some pointers? I would like to create portions for about one or two people, but I'm not sure if I should prepare and freeze a meal while raw to cook at a later time or should I cook a bunch of meals and then divide and freeze it? Is there one way that is easier for some?



 
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