In the upcoming weeks I will be mentioning freezer meals when posting my weekly menu plans. I thought I would give you an idea of what that looks like for me. Everyone does it a bit different, to suit their own needs and family. That is as it should be. Some people do this as they go. Some do it as once-a-month-cooking (OAMC). Others do it as the desire hits them. Yet others know that a big life event is coming and they need to plan for it.
I currently do it a bit of “as I go” and a bit of “as the fancy strikes me”. I do have to have a plan, and write it on the menu, to do this. If I don’t, then I forget.
Every Friday for the rest of the month, and maybe more, I will be posting something I make ahead and place in the freezer to use in the upcoming months.
Here is my first example. This is a very easy version, which I was doing before I knew it what it was called.
This post is not so much about a meal to make and freeze, as it is about saving time and money with meal preparations. Though I’m talking specifically about onions and peppers, it really can be anything. I often make omelette kits (so I just have to dump them in the pan before adding scrambled eggs), browned meat, cut up toppings for pizza, ready to cook or precooked scones or muffins, cut up meat for a stew, etc.
Last fall I was able to get onions at a good price. It just meant I had 6 or 7 - 10 lb bags of them at one time. A month after getting them I realized they were not keeping in my basement as I had hoped. Ones in the bottom of the bags were starting to go bad. Besides, my basement smelled of onions.
I decided to dice and freeze them. As the winter went on, I pulled out a bag of them as a recipe called for it. They worked well in recipes where they were to be cooked anyway. Using this method I was able to not buy, or chop, onions for almost 5 months.
I have also done this when I find peppers on sale. Recently I was able to get red peppers for a price that worked out to be 3 for $1. They needed to be used up fairly quickly, but that was okay with me. I took them home, chopped them up and placed them in baggies to put in the freezer. They are still waiting to have a chopped onion added to each bag before being frozen. The plan is to use these in chili or meatloaf recipes within the next month or two.
The regular sale price for the peppers that week? 2 for $3. That means I saved over $1 per pepper. I picked up all they had when I was there, which came out to 3 bags of 3, or 9 peppers.
This also is an easy activity to do as time allows. I can do one pepper at a time or stop when needed. Actually, I did one pepper, then had to leave home. Came back an hour later and did another while supper was in the oven. Did a third and fourth while the kids were playing after supper. The last ones I did while dealing with a child who disagreed that it was bed time. It was easy to put down the knife, clean my hands off and place said child back in bed. I was then able to pick the knife back up and keep going. No worries about forgetting ingredients or something burning.
My experience has shown that they will keep for several months. Mine tend to have ice crystals form on them, but that is because I do not dry them before putting them into the freezer. I can live with this, but just have to be aware of what I add them to, as it could potentially make a dish a bit watery (like scrambled eggs). If that is the case, then I thaw and dry them off, or add them to the pan first and let the excess liquid cook off.
I was in high school when I first cut a pepper. I had no idea at that time of what I was doing. It was actually a former exchange student who taught me, as we were visiting at the time. She couldn’t believe I didn’t know what to do. Since then, I have had lots of experience with these and am no longer intimidated by their shape. Sounds a bit silly now, but it didn’t that first time.
In case you have never dealt with peppers before, here is a brief description of how I chop them up.
Step 1. Wash and dry.
Step 2. Cut out the stem.
Step 3. Cut in half, or more if needed.
Step 4. Cut out the ‘ribs’. (This is easiest when you have cut the pepper into sections along the ‘ribs’.) Wash out the insides to help get rid of seeds.
Step 5. Cut into slices.
Step 6. Bunch up the slices, or as many as you feel comfortable doing. Cut perpendicular to the slices to dice or chop the peppers.
Step 7. Add to bags and label.
I linked up at Raising Olives with “4 Moms Freezer Meal Recipe: Link-up”.
Also over at LifeAsMom, where she talks about Mini Mini Freezer Cooking Sessions. She makes the same points that I tried to make, it doesn’t have to take a long time and a little here and there helps.
Do you have a recipe or tip you would like to share? Add a link to your post below. Please remember to mention or link back here, and please keep it all family friendly.