Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Stocking your Freezer with Delicious Home-Made Meals

As we bid farewell to February and usher in March, the long winter days can seem never-ending. So why not take advantage of this extra time to get organized and ahead of the game? Jump-start your year by preparing homemade frozen meals for school lunches, family dinners and entertaining -- you’ll eat healthier, spend less and it’ll reduce a great deal of your day-to-day stress.

Chill Out, Winter is the Perfect Time to Defrost the Freezer.
  • Gradually deplete long-standing frozen food stocks (especially commercially prepared products), a few weeks prior.Place delicate food items in your fridge-freezer, during the thaw.
  • Stack remaining food in coolers or plastic bins, and place inconspicuously outdoors. Secure lids well, so inquisitive critters can’t gain access.
  • Hair dryers, rubber mallets and blunt chisels are great tools to expedite your thawing efforts. Proceed carefully and gently, to avoid accidents or damage.
  • Defrost within twelve hours to minimize spoilage.
  • When finished, restock your freezer in an organized and logical manner…and don’t forget to plug it back in.
Starved for Inspiration?
  • Devote an entire day or weekend to cooking -- and little else.Plan the dishes you’d like to prepare, ahead of time. Include healthy options, personal favourites and a good variety, to stave off boredom.
  • For greater efficiency and cost effectiveness, prepare food in reasonably large batches.
  • Thaw out any meats and stock plenty of fresh vegetables, pulses and starches, the day before your cook off.
  • Have lots of spices, herbs and sauces at the ready, to maximize taste.
  • Sample mains: spaghetti bolognaise, sweet and sour chicken, vegetable curry, lemon trout, peanut pork, mushroom risotto, sweet pepper beef, etc.
  • Sample starches: wild rice, whole wheat pasta, naan bread, rice noodles, spaetzle, polenta, jasmine rice, etc.
  • If need be, refer to library cookbooks, your own stash of recipes, or the internet for further inspiration.
Savvy Storage.
  • Purchase inexpensive, transparent (plastic or glass), stackable, single-portion containers for freezing.
  • Preserve food texture and taste, by placing starches in small separate containers (away from meats/vegetables/sauces). This also allows for different food combinations i.e. curry and rice, curry and naan, etc.
  • Store similar items together to help identify and locate meals, with ease.
  • Colour code or label containers to eliminate potential confusion.
  • Reheat within the same vessel for delicious no fuss meals, in minutes.
Enjoy the Fruits of your Labour.
  • Access whatever you want to eat, whenever you want it, for weeks to come -- without spending a dime.
  • Improve your diet by preparing plenty of healthy, vegetable laden options to choose from.
  • Never get caught off-guard by unexpected company again. Rest easy knowing that you have a wide array of meals available, at a moment’s notice.
  • Avoid wastage by utilizing aging fridge ingredients to create more delicious frozen dishes.
  • Create a never-ending supply of choice meals, by cooking a few additional dishes, every couple of weeks.
By following these simple steps you’ll eat better and stay on budget, with much less fuss. For more great ideas on how to save money and live better, please follow “Leading a Champagne Life on a Beer Budget“.

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