There's a thread in my DDC about feeding the freezer. I'm eager to start but I want to make sure I do this the "right" way. Are there any great websites out there with tips and tricks, as well as do's and don'ts? My questions/concerns...
1) I plan on using Ziploc bags for things like soups and chili, because it is fairly easy to squeeze the excess air out. But if I freeze something like meatballs or empanadas, cookie dough balls, etc.. can I keep them in a Ziploc bag without worrying about freezerburn or icy crystals forming on them everywhere? Any way around that?
2) I'm having trouble figuring out what can be put into the freezer "ready to thaw/reheat and eat". Same goes for things that are able to be frozen raw (meatloaf) and cooked later, as well as things that can be cooked but separated, then just thrown together to prepare (shepherd's pie, for instance).
3) Along the lines of the previous question, how do you manage to organize meals that are separated because they aren't prepped yet? Like Shepherd's pie- how do you keep all of the little ziplocs of meat, potatoes, etc. together and prevent them from floating around your freezer? I'm just picturing a bottomless pit of ziploc baggies!
I can answer a couple of your questions... I use containers that go from freezer to micro/oven to table and have bought all of the same ones so that they stack well. I have one that's very large and I actually make an entire shepherd's pie in it, meat, veggies, potatoes and all. Then I just throw it in the micro and have a very quick and healthy meal with only one container.
As for floating bags... I will buy the next size up and put either all the meals worth of baggies into the larger bag so I can just grab or in the case of chicken or steak I will take all the individual portions and throw them into a bigger bag so they are all together but still separate. Also double bagging will help with the freezer burn.
And don't forget to label the bags with what's in it and when you froze it. So many times I have forgotten and pulled out what I thought was spaghetti sauce and it was actually taco meat. Oops!
I love feeding the freezer! We just moved long distance and I had to offload our previously fed freezer onto family.
My rule of cooking is that if I can double or triple the recipe for cheap then I always make one to eat and make one or two to freeze. Less cooking, save more money buying large quantities of meat and save time for those nights you don't want to cook.
Often times I will buy one or two of the large things of ground beef and set up at the stove., While I'm making one thing I might as well brown the meat, using all of the burners at the same time and make 4-8 meals (remember I try and double everything ;) ) in the time it would usually take to make one :)
I hope that helps some. The freezer to micro to table containers are always my first choice and then ziplocs are my second as I refuse to put them in the micro and often times forget to pull them out early enough to all thaw time... (This is where I'm known to cheat and throw them in a sink of warm water for 20 minutes until thawed...)
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For things like meatballs, cookie dough balls, etc. you can flash freeze them before putting them into the baggies. Just lay them out on a cookie sheet and place it in the freezer until they're just solid, then load them up into baggies and put back in the freezer. They won't all stick together then - that way you can pull just what you need out of the bag without having to defrost the whole thing. I do it all the time with berries, home made baby food purees and apple hand pies.
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