Now the big question: What kind of foods can you freeze?
The good news is that you can freeze almost anything! Just about everything we eat for dinner freezes well for lunch and many of the meals I make for the co-op were meals that I was already making for my family.
Here are a few foods that tend not to freeze well:
-mayonnaise (use salad dressing instead- my friend Sara didn't know this and her awesome chicken salad was ruined!)
-big chunks of potatoes (use small pieces or potatoes from the freezer section)
-fried food (will become soggy)
-large amounts of sour cream (will become runny) (small amounts okay, or add later)
- under cook pasta and rice since it will finish cooking when reheated; if there isn't a lot of sauce in the recipe I tend to add the rice or pasta later since they can become gummy (or something, I just don't like it, BUT under cooking helps a lot; slightly undercooking also works well for veggies too
-some herbs can become stronger or even bitter when frozen, so always use a light hand when seasoning to freeze if you don't know for sure (our co-op once had a very unfortunate incident involving oregano).
-remember that when you're cooking to freeze you are trying to SAVE yourself time, so don't cook everything twice if you don't have too. Many recipes I make call for cooked meat and other ingredients that need to basically be heated, maybe simmered for a few minutes. I simply cook my meat, allow it to cool, then divide it up and add it to the bags. Then I dump cans, and measure spices and veggies right into the bag- how easy!
How long to keep your frozen meals:
soup- 4 months
cooked meats- 2 months
casseroles- 3 months
If you're not interested in a co-op or don't have friends who are, try:
- making a double batch of one of your favorite meals and freeze it for another day
- making burritos, freezing them on a cookie sheet and once they are frozen, stick them in a freezer bag for a quick lunch you can pull out one by one and microwave.
- making a big batch of spaghetti sauce and freeze it into meal size portions. When you want to use it you just have to cook the noodles and reheat the sauce.
I hope you find, too, that your freezer can be a useful, time and money saving tool!
Still have questions? Post a comment with your question and I will post a Q & A post on Saturday!