Meal Prepping: Freezer

One of the biggest parts of my meal prepping is frozen items.  I take fresh meat, veggies, and fruits and freeze them for later use.  There are some items that don’t freeze well. The Kitchn has a great list of what NOT to freeze and why.

But on to the interesting stuff.  Generally, I buy chicken, pork, ground beef, ground turkey, and steak in large quantities when I can, portion them out, then put them in freezer safe bags.

0530152019Portioning out is fast.  If you’re using a food saver, cut all your bags at once to the right length for your portions.  I cut all of mine first, seal one side before filling. It eliminates the amount of times I feel the need to wash my hands. You definitely want to wash your hands between different meats. Helps with all that cross contamination stuff (I know I’m just cooking for my family, but I worked in restaurants for years and according to Devin, I’m weird about food safety).  Additionally, make sure you get your meat in an even layer and as thin a layer a possible–it helps with defrosting.

0530152029Once you have everything in the bags, get to sealing and labeling. I put the meat and the date.  Helps me make sure I use the oldest meat first. Sometimes I buy extra meat even if we don’t need it, just because it’s on sale.

Meat is always the fastest to do, and the bulkiest, so I get that out of the way first.  Then I move on to the veggies and fruits.  I really only freeze fruit if I find a good deal.  I LOVE fresh fruit and tend to eat it all right away. Usually I do all my veggies that can be frozen so it’s still good later in the week.  Sometimes, I plan to use them not from frozen and forget so it gets frozen just before it goes bad.

To freeze everything except onions, peppers, and mushrooms, I blanch them.  Onions, peppers, and mushrooms go into resealable ziplock freezer bags so I can pull what I need for each meal. Make sure you slice up the onions and peppers. Helps them from taking up too much space and makes easier for single use.  You can spread them in a single layer and freeze them that way before bagging them but I generally just toss them in a bag.  Mushrooms are the exception. I rinse those then make sure I dry them, lay them flat, and freeze on a pan before putting in a bag.0530152009

If you have never blanched vegetables before, you put the vegetable into boiling water, cook for a few minutes, then plunge it into ice water to stop the cooking process. This helps keep it good longer while in the freezer.

Start out by putting on a pot of water to boil. Make sure the pot isn’t too small or too big for what you are cooking.0530152005

While waiting for the water to boil, slice vegetables.  I cut brussel sprouts in half, slice the ends of asparagus, cut up broccoli crowns, etc.

Once the water is at a rapid boil, place the vegetables in.  Do one type of vegetable per pot and DO NOT overcrowd the pot. Green vegetables will become a really bright, pretty, delicious looking green. Only let them cook 2 minutes or so.  You do not want to cook them too far since you will be cooking them again later on. (See the difference in green below!)PhotoGrid_1433037854804

I throw mine into a strainer. If you would rather use a slotted spoon, those can work as well. I transfer into the strainer, then into a bowl.

0530152009a05301520100530152010a0530152030Once the vegetable are in a bowl, cover them with cool water. Cover the entire top with ice.  I let mine sit until the ice melts, then strain again and pat dry.  After patting the vegetables dry, place on a cookie sheet that will fit in your freezer.  I cover the sheet with tin foil or parchment paper to keep it from sticking and help with the cleanup process later. Let the vegetables sit in the over for a few hours, until it’s completely frozen.  Then place in a freezer bag and seal! (I had blanched and frozen broccoli earlier today, so please excuse the different vegetables.)

 05301519570530151959You can use the vegetables in pretty much any dish.  There are some veggies I buy pre-frozen–corn, peas, & carrots are the main ones. Occasionally if I’m being lazy, I’ll pick up other ones.  Most of my fruits I buy pre-frozen.  The only times I freeze them myself is if I buy them fresh and we haven’t even them fast enough or if they are on sale.

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