When clearing the table, I place leftovers into individual freezable plastic lunch containers, put masking tape on the lid, and write on the masking tape with a Sharpie brand of marker what it is & date. This creates my own homemade TV dinners & lunches. It also makes leftovers more appealing because you don't eat the same thing 3days in a row. It also uses up leftovers when you only have a spoon or two of something left. Generally speaking you can freeze all leftovers except salads.
I also buy 93% ground beef on sale for $1.99 lb in bulk, bring it home and freeze some of it raw in one-lb chunks. For the rest I cut up a ton of onion and mince a ton of garlic in the mini food chopper, setting aside a big mixing bowl full of onion. Then I start browning the ground beef in batches: a little onion in the pan, add beef, add garlic, and don't overcook, just cook til no longer pink since you will be cooking it again later. While the beef is browning, stir occasionally so the garlic gets to the bottom but doesn't burn and big chunks are broken up, also label freezer containers with masking tape as to date and contents. Put a bowl under a colander in the sink so you're ready to drain the beef without stopping up the sink.
Use the frozen, browned ground beef for: Spaghetti & pasta dishes Lasagna Soup Tacos Chili Cabbage rolls Pizza etc. Dinner will go so much faster because you'll already have the messy task of browning already done.
The next time you make lasagna, or meatloaf, Shephard's pie, or many dishes, double the recipe and make two. Bake one and freeze the other one raw. This is batch cooking and is a wonderful timesaver. To use the frozen one, remove it from the freezer and let it thaw in the bottom of the fridge 24 hours. So if you plan to have it for Wed night's dinner, remove it by 5pm Tues night.
I don't have a problem with freezer burn. I use Tupperware to freeze in instead of disposable bags (reduce, reuse, recycle, save money). If you use disposable bags (Ziploc etc) be sure to buy FREEZER QUALITY bags, which cost more. NOT storage bags, which are thinner and cheaper.
The type of food being frozen can have a large impact on how long it can safely be frozen. I once froze some cabbage soup, but it only lasted about a week, then it took on a different texture, and did not taste very good after that.
I used to make my own homemade TV dinners, making 3 or 4 varieties a month, so I could just grab a tray and out the door to work but not always get the same meal 2 days in a row. I found that if I was using mashed potatoes, they seemed to become watery when thawed. However, if I mashed the potato without any butter or milk, (I could add that at the time I heated the meal), OR if I left the potato in chunks, they seemed to be fine. I don't make the TV dinners anymore, but I will often make extra entrées and freeze them and all I need to do is add a side or a salad.
Someone mentioned a Food Saver, and I must say I am a huge supporter of that. Foods last much longer when vacuum sealed. Example, it is suggested that you use meat within 3 months, but when I vacuum seal it, it will last easily 6 months or more.
When I freeze berries, I will freeze them separately on a tray, then when frozen I will put them into a food saver bag and suck out the air. The foods do not stick together so I can take out just what I need and reseal the bag.
If I am freezing liquidy things, like spaghetti sauce, casseroles or even lasagna, I will freeze in a regular container and then vacuum seal after it is frozen, this prevents any liquid from coming up into the pump.
If you have a very tiny freezer and cannot store larger quantities, using regular containers is ok, but it is better to use zip lock bags so you can take out as much air as possible.
If you don't have a vacuum sealer but are considering getting one, there are several makes on the market. Some work much better than others and some bags don't hold the seal, so it is a matter of trial and error. Of all the ones I tried, I like my current Food Saver the best.
If it has a creamy sauce – I don’t freeze it – the sauce separates.
If I am making meatballs – I always make extra – cook them about ¾ of the way thru – and then freeze in meal size zip lock bags – say 8 to a bag – then several bags of 8 into 1 larger zip lock bag. I try to get as much air out as I can.
Stew – I fully make it, and then freeze in serving size containers
Casseroles, lasagna – fully cook and then freeze.
I have often bought beef for making stew and will freeze it raw in cut up chunks for when I have time to make the stew. Or I will slice into strips and freeze in pre-weighed batches to make stir fry’s – can just grab a container and don’t have to worry about am I making enough or to much
The other key thing – is label the container – what it is, and when you made it. Some things look different when they are frozen. Plus if I have frozen meatballs a few different times I want to of course use the oldest ones first.
Respect the mountain. Then take it with a Passion!
Movie quote: "Never Surrender, Never say Die" - my diet motto
current weight: 214.4
Fitness Minutes: (30) Posts: 3,225 2/28/10 11:29 A
can someone offer me some advice about freezing. I know about buying meats in bulk, etc. But I want some advice about freezing meals AFTER they are made. Is there anything special that is needed to be done? Anything that should NOT be frozen? Ways to prevent freezer burn, how long can things stay frozen? etc. Any good ideas for meals to freeze? At what part do u freeze? before its cooked, after, how long to u let it cool? I need lots of help as u can see!!!!
SparkPeople, SparkCoach, SparkPages, SparkPoints, SparkDiet, SparkAmerica, SparkRecipes, DailySpark, and other marks are trademarks of SparkPeople, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
SPARKPEOPLE is a registered trademark of SparkPeople, Inc. in the United States, European Union, Canada, and Australia. All rights reserved.