This month it is all about Simplicity here at MAK. How to organize and streamline your kitchen, must have kitchen tools, how to use your leftovers. Some pretty fabulous topics.
Today, let us look at things we can and/or should be freezing. I despise waste, especially any coming from the kitchen. As far as food preservation goes, there are lots of options: canning, dehydrating/drying, using a root cellar, and freezing to name a few.
Save Money. Buying things in bulk is usually cheaper. Buy bulk, freeze. When things go on sale, take advantage. Stock up, freeze. One of our contributors waits for raw milk to go on sale from $8.99 to .99 and buys the store out (yes, you can freeze milk)!
Save Time. Below are recipes for several freezer meals/dishes. When you have some extra time, use it to set yourself up when things are busy.
Reduce Waste. Have you seen the documentary about America’s food waste, Dive? People waste and throw away a lot of things, but there is no reason we should throw out food! If you haven’t had those leftovers from Monday night yet, don’t throw them out-freeze them. Produce about to go bad? Freeze it! More tips for reducing food waste here.
Containers to Use
Glass works great for liquids, bulk items like nuts, and homemade things like applesauce or purees. Just be sure to leave 1/2 inch to in inch of “headspace” when freezing liquids–room for expansion to prevent the jar from busting (I’ve made that messy mistake). Mason jars work great, but if you are looking to save money, then save your old salsa, marinara sauce, mayonnaise jars.
Plastic works great as well. Plastic tupperware or old yogurt containers can safely house your liquids or bulk as well. I use these as a last resort, when my glass is gone because you can’t see what’s inside. To help with that, simply use tape or a permanent marker and write on the top and/or side what is inside.
Freezer bags can be used for sliced bread, scraps for veggie broth, breakfast burritos, and bean (or meat) burgers.
Vacuum sealer bags work great for freezing meat. If you buy your meat fresh, freeze it first, then seal it as you don’t want any liquid to get sucked into your vacuum sealer. Label with what the meat is and the date and use within 6-12 months.
Vegetables need to be blanched before they are frozen. Blanching simply scolds the vegetable to prevent the action of enzymes, by doing so the vegetable will retain its texture, flavor, and color. To do this, peel/skin then cut into bite-size pieces, place the vegetables in boiling water for specific amount of time, then immediately move to a bowl/sink of ice water to prevent the vegetable from cooking. If blanching sounds like too much work, check out Joanna’s Lazy Freezing Techniques.
Here are some blanching times for commonly frozen vegetables.
Asparagus, corn (off the cob), carrots, squash, broccoli, cauliflower, sweet peppers: 2-3 minutes.
Potatoes: 6 minutes.
This method allows you to easily remove only part of something that’s frozen. For example, when freezing cooked rice, beans, berries, or other fruit lay flat on a cookie sheet/baking stone and freeze for 2-3 hours. This allows them to freeze individually. Then place them in your container. Now, when you go to get some berries for your smoothie, only what you need will come out.
What You Should/Can Freeze
Most fresh vegetables and fruit, dried fruit
Fresh or frozen meats, cooked or uncooked, (including bacon, sausage, and deli meat for 2-3 months)
Flours (including but not limited to wheat, almond, coconut, rye, ground flaxseed)
Baked goods (muffins, pancakes, french toast, waffles, banana bread)
Pizza dough, pie dough (or a whole pie!)
Homemade or store bought bread, sliced
Raw cookie dough, baked cookies
Cheese (tends to get crumbly, so shred/cube/slice before freezing)
Eggs, cooked or uncooked (raw eggs need to be cracked and placed in container or ice cube trays)
Milk (look for raw to go on sale, stock up, freeze)
Broths (vegetable, chicken, turkey, beef)
Cupcakes (one of our contributors makes a grain-free kind and sends them with her kids to school when someone has a birthday!)
Fore even more delicious, whole food meals to freeze, check out this post. While some freezing takes a little preparation, sometimes you can literally toss goods into the freezer. If you are looking to save money (aren’t we all?) then consider buying in bulk or when things are on sale. The freezer is your friend, he’s happy when he’s full.
Do you freeze anything that wasn’t listed here? Was anything on this list surprising to you?