Over the last few weeks we have all been trying to figure out how to stock up on the necessary foods in order to limit going out. For some of you this may be your norm and for some this is a huge change in storage techniques. The best thing you can do to minimize waste of the larger than normal amount of foods bought is to make your freezer your new favorite appliance. There are not that many regulations on how long you can keep frozen food. I personally put a 3 month limit on anything in the freezer but since the food is frozen some people can say up to 6 months in the freezer as long as it has not been de-thawed in that time.
Best Foods to Freeze:
All vegetables can be frozen and reheated pretty well. Unfortunately, once produce is frozen it wont be able to return to a “crisp” state. The exceptions to this are going to be frozen sweet potato and potato since they do retain their consistency even if frozen. Freeze in individual portions and cut to desired size of intent or food. The best methods of cooking frozen vegetables:
- Put in soups or stews
- Use in Smoothies
All fruits can also be frozen to use for a later date. Normally what I do is I buy plenty of fruit at the beginning of the week and if anything is about to go bad I freeze those leftovers to use in my morning smoothies. So these fruits usually include some berries, a banana or two and possibly an exotic fruit like mango. Just like vegetables, fruits won’t return to the same consistency once frozen. When they are thawed fruits can be utilized many ways:
Cut the fruit into the desired size. EX: slice banana into slices or halves before freezing. Slices can be used for oatmeal. The fruits will not freeze into chunks if you first freeze the fruit laid out on a sheet pan (covered in parchment paper) and frozen spread out. You can then package in individual bags and portions.
- Thawed and put in Greek yogurt or oatmeal
- Juice from thawed fruit can be used to flavor water
- Put in high protein pancake mixes
- Remain frozen and put in smoothies
- Made into preserves
All meats can be frozen and thawed easily. I recommend freezing uncooked meat that can be grabbed easily. If you shop at Sam’s Club or Costco you can buy large quantities of protein and freeze in individual portions. When your favorite cuts of meat are on sale feel free to stock up. you will want to portion, trim and prep the meat before freezing. Freezer burn can ruin these cuts of meat though! So please wrap tightly and try and remove as much moisture and air as possible before freezing.
- Pre-form ground turkey or chicken into 3 to 5 ounce patties then wrap each patty in plastic wrap. Put all of those patties in an air tight Ziploc bag with air removed to prevent freezer burn.
- Take cut pork chops, chicken breast or thighs, 3 to 5 ounce steaks and individually wrap in plastic wrap (like mentioned above), put all the meat in a Ziploc bag with air removed and store.
- If you are freezing meat for stews please cut into desired sized chinks of meat before freezing.
Products to help you freeze your food!
These can help you prevent freezer burn by reducing water and air exposure to the food. This is best used for your frozen meat or prepared meals. Prices can range from 25-200$ for vacuum sealers. Some brands will have you use special bags and others allow multiple brands of bags to be used. They are sold in multiple places ranging from walmart to online stores.
Ice trays are a great way to freeze sauces and juices in individual servings to use later. If you have oranges, lemon or limes that are about to go bad you can juice them and then freeze that juice in ice trays.
If you make sauces or pastes in bulk you can freeze these in ice trays to drop into sauce pans later down the road.
Sharpies and Sticker Labels:
Always label and date your frozen food. Write a description of the food, number of servings, date packaged. This helps you stay organized and helps keep foods from staying in the freezer for too long.
I hope you are able to put these tips into practice!