Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Saving Money on Busy Days: Freezer Cooking (Guest Post)

Even if you’re committed to frugal living, it can be difficult to stick to your budget when times get busy. There will be days when everyone in your house has somewhere to be, a few of you are sick, someone is crying and laundry and dishes are piling up. When these days come, it can be all too easy to throw caution to the wind and splurge on take-out.

Avoid these setbacks by stocking your freezer with meals you can make in an instant. Whether you freeze entire meals or individual ingredients, cooking a lot and freezing what’s left streamlines the cooking process and gives you more food in less time.

Here are some tips on how to go about it.

Freeze cooked meat. A lot of meals call for chicken or beef, but you don’t always have time to take it out of the freezer, thaw it, cook it, season it, and get it in your recipe. Instead, cook all the meat you buy as soon as you are back from the grocery store. Measure it into usable portions, freeze it, and have it ready to go at a moment’s notice.

Prepare several casseroles for a quick meal. On nights when you have more time, prepare two casseroles instead of one. The added quantity won’t add much time to your dinner preparation but will allow you to freeze an entire casserole for future use. Then when those busy days come, you need only reach in your freezer to get a delicious home-cooked meal.

Freeze dough. You may not have time to make bread or rolls every day, but you probably have time once a month. Prepare a big batch of dough, form the rolls and freeze the dough. You may want to leave the dough on a cookie sheet until it is frozen, then take it off and seal it in freezer-safe bags. An hour or so before dinner, take the rolls out of the freezer and bake.

Let food cool before freezing it. If you put something hot in the freezer, like a recently-cooked casserole or bag of ground beef, it will raise the temperature inside the freezer and cause uneven freezing. Your food may even spoil if it is not frozen within a certain timeframe.

Use bags designed for freezers. If you use bags or wrappings that aren’t specifically intended for use in a freezer, they may allow moisture in your food that will cause it to freeze incorrectly or spoil. Make sure you choose moisture- and vapor-proof bags and wrappings to ensure safe freezing.

J. F. Crook is an experienced online marketer, website owner and consultant. Current projects include PMI Education and complaining about life in general.

image credit:  Flickr user steelasha

1 comment :

  1. I have been learning to use my freezer more for cooking. My favorites include pre-baked meatballs, freezer spaghetti sauce, and pre-cooked chicken. ~ Ellen


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