Freezing Basics – Cooking for One or Two


We make good use of our freezers when cooking for just one or two.  We find we usually freeze ingredients instead of finished dishes; then you can use them multiple ways to avoid boredom.
We also freeze ingredients so we don’t waste anything…fresh vegetables before they go bad, cheese so it doesn’t get moldy, extra portions of cooked meat and poultry that can be added to casseroles or soups, half cans of beans, vegetables and sauces, canned pie filling, that can be used next time.
1. If you freeze leftovers or small portions, keep track of them in plastic baskets or boxes in your freezer.  Check there first when meal planning.  I keep a large box for my freezer stash.
2. Cook wild rice, regular rice, and dry beans in a larger quantity and freeze in small portions – I usually freeze in 1 cup portions to use in smaller recipes.
3. Chop or slice celery, onions and peppers…freeze in quart freezer bags…they are ready to cook with with no thawing or additional preparation, and you don’t waste any of those expensive vegetables.
4. Freeze salsa or spaghetti sauce for cooked dishes – I get three 1 cup portions from a large purchased jar.
5. Freeze some parts of dishes – filled cheese shells instead of lasagna for example or freezer meat balls, cooked chicken, beef or pork, sliced or cubed (use in casseroles, sandwiches, stir fries, etc.)
6. Freeze baked bacon – lay out on parchment or waxed paper, roll up and store in gallon bag – remove the slices you need and microwave.  To bake, place on a rack in a sheet pan at 400° for 20 minutes.
7. Try freezer mashed potatoes – freeze one or two servings in quart freezer bags, thaw, and cook in a glass measuring cup or small casserole in the microwave.
8. You can freeze cooked mushrooms or the leftovers of canned mushrooms...spread out in a freezer bag so you can break off what you need...add to soups and casseroles, top vegetables, pizzas, and meats with a few mushrooms.
9.  One of Myrna's freezing tricks is freezing popped popcorn if she has too much...it's good thawed or heated in her toaster oven!
Portioning:
1. Portion meat when purchased, package for 1 or two – at our grocery meat counter they will package them for you in small sizes.  You can use more packages if you have company - they often thaw more quickly too.
2. Package large bags of frozen items into portions, place in quart-sized bags and put the bags back into the large bag in the freezer...take out your pre portioned bag to use, this prevents those ice crystals that you get from opening the large bag too often.
3. Use frozen vegetables in a bag – shake out what you need - buy the plain vegetables to save $money$.
4. Freeze cookie dough – either refrigerator dough in rolls, or drop cookies in scoops and freeze – bake from frozen, just a minute or two longer than the recipe, whenever you want.
5. Freeze finished cookies and bars – they will thaw while you make tea or coffee.
6. Freeze breads of all kinds – I usually slice first, then bag the loaves and keep them in their own large plastic freezer box.
7. Freeze pie fillings in small portions, like pumpkin, fruit, etc. – bake later in small pie pans or custard cups (I use quart freezer bags stored flat).  Bonnie says she successfully freezes half cans of pie filling in freezer jars to use later.
8. Freeze pie crusts in individual sizes – about 5 ounces of pie crust works in the small pie pans – I freeze dough in patties this size, let thaw and roll out as usual.  You can also roll out, separate with 2 sheets of waxed paper and freeze flat on a paper plate in a plastic bag.
9. Freeze extra waffles and French toast, toast one or two at a time.
10.  Most lunch meats freeze well, we repackage in meal-size portions; even things like braunschweiger and ham spread and canned Spam slices freeze just fine; we slice these items before freezing.
Notice the freezer thermometers in the picture above...an inexpensive way to keep an eye on your expensive freezer contents.

Freezing Perishable Staples:
1.  We keep extra sale butter in the freezer...move to the refrigerator when needed.
2.  Divided cans of condensed milk can be frozen several months.
3.  Bulk packages of yeast can be frozen several years...move the yeast to the refrigerator in small jars to use.
4.  Hard cheeses can be grated and kept in the freezer to prevent mold.
We package them in small snack or sandwich bags inside a larger freezer bag, in recipe size portions.  We also freeze already grated cheese packages that were on sale...just break off what you need.
5.  I keep dry milk in the freezer and/or refrigerator...it prevents that awful off-taste and color that make dry milk so unpalatable.  I pour my boxes or packages into half gallon or smaller jars so I can see what I have and prevent off-odors and tastes, as well as spillage.
Our motto is:  If we are going to throw it away because we can't use an item in time, but it's still good, why not try freezing it?  We have nothing to lose, and we have found that there are a lot of savings to be found.

4 comments:

  1. I tend to find that I won't end up using most already cooked food either. Exceptions are spaghetti sauce and dressing.

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  2. I am always amazed when I hear news stories of the amount of food waste in the US. I have always needed to be frugal and I have done many of the things listed and learned a few more to try.

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  3. Thank you; I learned a few things from this! I feel terrible when food is wasted at our house. My mom is a "make use of everything" cook and baker. Her mom could whip up a beautiful meal from very little during the depression. Both are better cooks than I am, but I keep working at it!

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