Thursday, January 29, 2015

Tips for freezing and crock-pot freezing

Tips for freezing and crock-pot freezing

Next time I do this I’ll take pictures to go with the endless tip list below, but for now this is what I have, and my friend Sarah wanted tips ASAP. Also the three posts below this one are some great recipes and a link to my crock-pot Pinterest page. :)  

1. Make out a good detailed grocery list (if possible for what you are freezing only). Make it in order of the store, group together veggies, meats, canned goods, spices, etc., when buying a lot that helps quite a bit. After you make the list double check with your recipes to be sure you won’t be missing anything during the big freeze, also really look through your pantry, it’s amazing what you might find before you buy new. ;)

2. If the recipes you are using call for stock of any kind or a really runny/liquidy sauce freeze it the night before (many people use ice cube trays to do this step).

3. I like putting everything in raw (unless it is beef going into a stew, then sear the outside quick before putting into the bag).  Most of the recipes I made are crock-pot, which is my preference for large freeze days.

4. I know a lot of people do this with just a Freezer Zip-lock bags, or Tupperware. I have tried both of those options, but in my freezer they always end up with a lot of freezer burn or extra frozen water inside. I was lucky enough to get a FoodSaver for an anniversary gift a few years ago, and although the bags are a little more expensive I really think it’s worth it. If you don’t have a FoodSaver ask around, there is almost always someone out there who would love to lend you one. I had a little issue with ours once during a big freeze day and put on Facebook that I needed to borrow one, three people offered theirs up.

5. Before you begin bagging make sure you have a bunch of bowls, knives, cutting boards, bags, and your FoodSaver out for easy access.

6. There are two schools of thought regarding organization when packing meals for freezing. One is to get all the ingredients out for all the meals (except for the meat, you don’t want it sitting around), group all ingredients you need for each meal together in little stations. This option works well if you have a big kitchen/a lot of counter space, but if you have a small area this will just be overwhelming. Also people who try this option often pre-cut all the veggies. Option number two is to get out all the kitchen supplies you’ll need beforehand, and then get the ingredients out for each recipe individually. This option is best if you have a small kitchen. Either way just think out how you work best before you start, whatever form of organization works best for you is great, just make sure you come up with one before you start.

7. If you have helpers (husband, children who are old enough to help out), I find that giving them tasks like cutting up meat or veggies is great, or if you don’t trust them with a knife they can often be in charge of sealing the bags.  However it seems to work best if one person is actually trying to put ingredients into the bags, and that the person doing the bag loading is able to concentrate on putting the right ingredients in. J

8. Empty your trashcan before you start, and move it close to the counter where you’re working.

9. It is often helpful to stand your freezer bags up in a bowl, or have someone hold it open for you.

10. When you go to freeze lay things flat, you can then stand them up later if you want to, it will save space.

11. Since we have a family of two, and I don’t love eating one meal over and over for a week, so I usually take recipes that serve eight and put half in one bag and half in another.

12. If you are freezing a soup, I recommend putting it in a zip-lock bag a little smaller than your FoodSaver bag, freeze it overnight, and then cut the zip-lock bag off, put it in the FoodSaver bag, suck the air out, and put it back in the freezer. This might seem like overkill, but I’ve tried it a few different ways and this really does work the best. Also when you thaw out make sure you do it in the refrigerator the night before, if you think you might be putting a totally frozen soup in a crock-pot or large pan make sure that whatever shape you freeze in will fit in your pot however it really does work out best if you just completely defrost it first.

13. If you are doing a lasagna (which I think is awesome fresh and frozen) I would only cook it half way if you are going to freeze it. All the way cooked, so fine too, but it can get a little crunchy the second baking. I also use those disposable tin-ish 8 by 8 pans, it makes things easier. 

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