Becky Rosenthal, author of Fast to the Table Freezer Cookbook: Freezer-Friendly Recipes and Frozen Food Shortcuts, joins the Clever Cookstr to share nine quick tips for using your freezer to your advantage.
Using your freezer to help plan meals is a great way to cook smarter, save money, and maximize your efforts in the kitchen. Here are some of Becky Rosenthal's reminders for making the most of your freezer.
1) You don't only have to freeze entire casseroles. Becky uses her freezer to preserve parts of meals to later use in dinnertime shortcuts, allowing you to whip up a fresh meal quickly on a busy weeknight.
2) Freeze cooked meat. Defrosting and cooking raw meat requires more planning ahead, while you can actually defrost cooked meat much closer to dinnertime.
SEE ALSO: Nutrition Diva's How Long Frozen Food Lasts
3) Packing and labeling is key. A freezer full of foil-wrapped mystery packages won't do you much good!
4) Wrap food until it's air tight. Plastic wrap covered in foil does the trick for a one-dish meal, while freezer-safe zip-top bags with the air squeezed out work well to stack flat in your freezer, saving plenty of freezer room for ice cream. Rigid plastic containers and even jars work well also.
Just make sure you leave enough headspace in the top of the jar, as liquids expand when frozen.
5) Clean out your freezer first. Starting with a clean and organized freezer is the best way to ensure that you'll have room to store well-organized foods.
CHECK OUT: Domestic CEO's How to Clean and Organize Your Freezer
6) Team up with a few friends. Get together (safely!) to make foods in batches and organize them for freezing—it's a fun activity, and everyone leaves with meals or ingredients they can freeze and use later on.
7) Freeze items with multiple uses in ice cube trays or muffins tins. Big batches of sauces like tomato sauce or peanut sauce, which can be used for dipping or stir-frys, are worth stocking up on!
Stocks are also great to freeze in various amounts for when you're making soups, sauces, and grains.
8) Avoid cream-based or potato-based soups and sauces. They tend not to freeze as well. Noodles can also tend to get mushy when frozen and defrosted, so in soup, you may want to add them before serving after defrosting the soup.
9) Freeze snacks as well as meals. Berries dipped in yogurt freeze well, and frozen grapes and peaches are delicious.
And just for fun, here's a bonus recipe:
- ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 pound ground beef
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, finely chopped
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon dried basil
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¹⁄8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ½ cup panko breadcrumbs
- 1 large egg
- Pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
- 1 tablespoon water
- 12 small balls mozzarella cheese (about 4 ounces), cut in half (see note)
- 4 tablespoons neutral oil (grapeseed or canola)