The Freezer Cure Week 1: Saturday, February 21
Assignment: Stock your freezer with a few go-to ingredients, and learn our strategies for using your freezer to save money and create faster, better meals.
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You've cleaned out your freezer and organized it (on Valentine's Day, no less), and today we continue our march towards the freezer of your dreams. The next step? Prep. We want to turn your freezer into a lean, mean, well-stocked, meal-inspiring machine. We want it to be so full of smart, neatly-labeled and ready-to-go ingredients that it practically sings you meal ideas every time you open the door.
Does the thought of having a freezer like that excite you? Then read on, because it's within your grasp.
Freezer Cure Assignment Week 3
Estimated time: 3 hours
1. Revisit your freezer organizers: what needs to be filled?
Last week you created labeled organizers for your freezer, both for the foods you already stock on a regular basis as well as foods you'd like to start stocking. Take a look at your organizers now, and note which containers needs filling.
2. Make a list divided into ingredients you plan to buy for the freezer, and those you plan to prepare for the freezer.
Did you set aside a smoothie drawer that now needs to be filled with frozen berries and bananas? A container for bags of vegetables or a few packages of tortillas? Have a box marked for make-ahead meal staples like rice, beans, or caramelized onions (which, yes, you can freeze!)? Write down any foods you've marked for your freezer that you don't have yet.
As you make your list, divide it into ingredients you can buy for the freezer — packages of frozen fruit and vegetables, fish, meat, bread, etc — and ingredients you can prepare for the freezer that'll make cooking quicker and easier, like pesto, caramelized onions, blanched greens, or a batch of beans. We'll start with that list, and fill it out even more in the next step.
3. Check out our list of freezer staples for quick meals, and add what you want to your list!
How's your list? You feel good about it, or is it looking pretty spare? If you're feeling stumped as to what foods or ingredients you really should be stocking in your freezer, we've got some suggestions.
In Christine's post on the 10 Foods to Keep In Your Freezer to Make a Quick Meal, she writes: "Over the years, I've learned through trial-and-error what to always keep in my freezer so that I can, with the help of a few pantry and fridge staples, throw a variety of dishes together quickly with little effort."
Isn't that what we all want? Here's our list of go-to ingredients when we want to stock the freezer. Read it over and then add whatever looks good to your own list!
Ingredients to buy for the freezer
- Meat, including chicken breasts, steak, and sausages
- Bread or baguettes
- Frozen garlic
- Puff pastry
- Phyllo dough
- Frozen fruit — or you could freeze fresh fruit!
- Frozen vegetables, especially broccoli, corn, edamame, peas, chopped spinach, and green beans —and here's how to make them taste good!
Want to know more about freezing seasonal produce? Check out this post → 17 Strategies for Stashing Seasonal Produce in Your Freezer
Ingredients to prepare for the freezer (with freezing instructions)
- Brown rice
- Cauliflower rice
- Grains, including quinoa, millet, and farro (see more freezing instructions)
- Caramelized onions
- Roasted garlic
- Cookie dough
- Pizza dough
- Homemade stock (which you can also freeze in ice cube trays)
- Pasta sauce
- Fresh herbs in olive oil
- Blanched winter greens
- Citrus zest
4. Catch up on freezer expert Jessica Fisher's cost-saving advice for shopping for your freezer.
This week Jessica shared a few of her budget-friendly strategies for shopping and stocking her freezer. Did you read all her posts? Before you go shopping for your freezer, check out her tips:
- Make Costco Work For You: How I Buy and Freeze in Bulk
- How I Save Money on Protein Using My Freezer
- 8 Things That Don't Belong in the Freezer
- How I Stock My Smoothie Drawer
5. Head to the grocery store, then do a little cooking.
With your list in hand, you are now ready to head to the grocery store and buy all the ingredients you need to set your freezer up for success. If you chose a few ingredients from the 'foods to prepare for your freezer" list above (brown rice, for example, or a batch of pesto) set aside an hour or two this weekend to make that item. Don't forget to label it before you put it away!
That's it for today. Come back next weekend!
Only one week left! Next week we'll finish the Freezer Cure by cooking an entire meal (or more!) to stash in your freezer for busy weeknights.
We want to see your newly organized freezer! Post it to your Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, or Facebook account and use the hashtag #freezercure
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