Menu Planning Monday March 21: Top 10 foods to keep in the freezer for easy meals

1.      Beans: I have posted in the past about my process for cooking and storing beans. Having them in my freezer means that any recipe that starts with “soak the beans overnight” I can skip several steps ahead and make the recipe in much less time.

2.      Ham chunks: I keep small chunks of ham in a few sizes in the freezer because when I plan to make something using ham it can take time to thaw out a solid piece.

3.      Cheese: I keep the majority of the cheese I buy in the freezer. As long as the cheese is going to be melted then it can be frozen. I don’t freeze sliced cheese or feta because it changes the texture but anything else seems to be fine. It helps to reduce waste and it also helps to control portions because there is less cheese going into meals.

4.      Shredded chicken: This is actually the one I struggle to keep up with the most. It seems simple and chicken is very affordable when purchased on sale and of course the cooking process is not the difficult but for whatever reason it seems to leave the freezer quickly. I should make more of an effort here because it really is a time saver.

5.      Marinara sauce: I posted a basic recipe for red sauce and I make a large pot from time to time and freeze the rest in portions that are specific to recipes. Lasagna takes considerably more sauce than spaghetti, I label and date the bag of course and then I am prepared for that meal at a later date. I don’t like jarred purchased sauce partly for the sugar but mostly because of the preservatives and this way I don’t need to.

6.      Tortillas: I always keep tortillas in the freezer because they defrost on the counter in less than 30 minutes. I have different sizes and types around because it allows me to use exactly the ones I need. I usually keep whole wheat tortillas in the fridge for wrap sandwiches or quick quesadillas and everything else is frozen. I buy mine at the bread outlet so we tend to have several packages at once, if I didn’t freezer them they would go bad before they were eaten.

7.      Chopped veggies: I like to chop up extra celery, peppers and zucchini when it’s in season or when I purchase some for a recipe and have no immediate need for the rest, as long as the veggies are going to be cooked then freezing them is fine. If they have been in there for 6 months or so then I will add them to a soup or sauce to make sure they are used.

8.      Cooked bacon: I like to cook an entire package of bacon at once, cut into small pieces and keep in the freezer. Many recipes call for a slice or two of bacon for flavor so this way I can just toss in a handful and be done with it. The cooking and draining process can be time consuming plus you then have bacon grease in the pan you are cooking in. I would rather use a little olive oil and add bacon after the fact.

9.      Stock: This too I have mentioned in the past but I think it’s important to have a variety of stocks in the freezer especially during the winter for making soups and stews. I continue to make them the rest of the year as well because plenty of recipes require stock.

10.   Fruit: I freeze pounds and pounds of fruit during the summer. We drink protein shakes which require a fair amount of frozen fruit and purchasing pre frozen fruit is very expensive. We use them in other recipes as well, anything that will be cooked such as fruit cobbler and of course we use frozen blueberries in things like pancakes and muffins.

Aside from these frozen foods, this week we will be eating…

For other tips and menu plans check out organizing junkie

Much Love, Aislinn and Emily

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