Thursday, July 26, 2012

Freezer Tips

If you have been following my grocery trips you know I'm the Queen of meat markdowns! The first thing I look for in the meat section are those little red stickers. BUT pay close attention to the per pound price; sometimes the "markdown" price isn't as good as a regular sale price so it helps to know your price points.

By price point I mean what the lowest price is in YOUR area. For instance chicken breasts go on sale here for $1.99/lb in regular rotation so I will wait and buy in bulk when the are lower than that price, whether it is a sale or a markdown item. If I really need chicken breasts and feel like I can't wait for a better price then I will buy a pack or two at $1.99/lb but that is not my ideal stock up price.

Okay so you've found a great price on meat now what?  I do one of two things - either re-package it into servings & make it freezer ready (I use freezer bags, foil and sometimes cling wrap) *OR* I go ahead and cook it then freeze.

For example if I buy a large package of ground beef then I will go ahead and cook it all at once and then divide it into 2 cup servings (equals to 1 pound cooked...or close enough) using freezer bags and then pop them into the freezer. That way I only dirty one pot/pan and always have cooked hamburger ready to go. Perfect for spaghetti, sloppy joes or even the occasional hamburger helper meal. This is my preferred method of cooking hamburger in bulk, though not for the squeamish. :-]

Sometimes I go ahead and make 2-3 meatloaves at a time, cook one and freeze the others for a later meal. I just put them on a cookie sheet (raw) and package when frozen. Again, I'm only making one mess but I have ready-to-cook meals in my freezer.

Another way that I try and stretch my budget is by buying produce at it's lowest price & freezing it. I don't know about you but I hate the smell of onions on my hands, so my favorite items to have in the freezer are onions and green peppers chopped and ready. Buy when the are at the best price point, clean, chop and freeze. It's that simple! I know some prefer to portion these out but I don't bother with that step because most times I can break off a "chunk" of what I needed and throw them in still frozen.

People are always surprised by what I have in my freezer - butter, cheese, cream cheese, homemade chicken stock, nuts, overripe bananas, etc. I've tried several items and found that while some stuff may not have quite the same consistency, such as cream cheese, it is still usable for most recipes.

Just remember the most important part of freezing is to wrap the food well in order to prevent freezer burn, label it so you know what that "blob" is in a week and to rotate your freezer stock as you would your pantry - First In, First Out.

Here are a few resources to better help you make the most out of your freezer:


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