Time is the one commodity few of us have to spare. In the “hurly burly” of daily life, cooking a healthy, well-balanced meal can easily get pushed to the sidelines. For those married to the military or public safety it tends to be feast or famine. Between deployments, training and long shifts (not counting children who have their own friends and agendas) spouses may or may not be home for meals. And let’s face it, who really wants to cook a whole meal for one…or be told at the last minute they are having unexpected dinner guests and have nothing ready?
Most of us love fast food, but not many of us want to live on it…or serve it to guests. And cooking for one is expensive, while eating out can really burn a whole in the pocket.
But there is a better way. And it works just as well for several as it does for one.
Making double or extra large batches of meals, then freezing means there is always something on hand to eat. Not only can this be a great time saver, but buying in quantity reduces cost. Just pack them up in one to two person portions and defrost as desired:
- Soups, Stews and Broths
- Casseroles and Chilies
- Pasta Sauces – which can turn into pasta dishes, pizzas, etc.
- Meat – cooked, raw meat, ground, shredded
If you know you are going to be using a frozen meal ahead of time, just pull it out of the freezer at least the night before and let it defrost naturally. If you need it quick, you can place it in cold water until it defrosts. And if you are really in a hurry, there’s always the microwave. Soups are the easiest. As long as a little of the water is defrosted it can be put in a pan, covered and set on low heat to fully defrost in a very short amount of time.
Of course, not everything freezes well:
- Bean sprouts
- Raw potatoes
- Hard boiled eggs
- Egg based – will separate and curdle
- Some dairy products, such as cream, might turn watery
And food should be fully cooled or even partially frozen (see vacuum sealer directions if using) before it is packaged and stored:
- Freezer Safe Bags – remove as much air as possible
- Aluminum Foil Pans – cheap and easy to replace
- Glass or metal pans – be sure you have enough for other uses
- Plastic Tupperware with Sealed Lids – great for soups but take up a lot of room
- Vacuum Sealer and Bags – the initial costs quickly repays itself in the extreme reduction of forgotten food that goes bad too quickly using other means
So if you are looking for a time/money saver, pick a Saturday or Sunday, for those who are off, and prep a large batch or two of food. Just pick a personal or family favorite (not recommended to try something new unless you already have tasted the recipe); double, triple or even quadruple the quantities and get cooking. In what will seem like no time at all the freezer will be full of tasty – quick and healthier – meals to eat.
For an easy-to-freeze, healthy yet packed full of flavor meal, try out my Chicken Tortilla Soup. It has even been a big hit with the strictly meat and potatoes friends who have given it a try.