Happy Monday! Another weekend has come and gone, but that just means there are many more weekends to look forward to! We had another wonderful weekend filled with family and friends. I enjoyed my Saturday morning yoga and farmer’s market routine before we celebrated my mom’s birthday at Berryessa Brewing Company. There was a live band, games, beer and delicious barbecue food. Basically everything you need in life. On Sunday we purchased a patio table to get our backyard ready for hopefully many barbecues. We also went on a bike ride and did some meal prep to make our week smoother.
Ok, let’s get to the meal planning part. Today I am here to profess my undeniable love for the freezer to you. I think this obsession started at a young age. You see, I grew up in the middle of nowhere, so the closest grocery store was about 45 minutes away. We only went grocery shopping once or twice a month, since piling kids into the car to go to town was probably not the most fun activity for my mom. But when we shopped, oh did we shop. We piled coolers into the truck then spent hours in town filling those coolers, but always made sure to make it home before the ice cream melted. We always had an extra freezer in the laundry room that was full of meat, bread, leftovers, treats…basically anything you could freeze. It was never fun when you realized you had to get something from the bottom.
You may have noticed that a lot of the meals in my first meal planning post included a few items from the freezer. I no longer live in the middle of nowhere. In fact, there is a grocery store less than ½ mile away that we frequently walk to. However, I still use my childhood lesson in freezer storage today. Is that bread about to go stale? Freeze it. Leftovers? Freeze ‘em. Great meat sale? Buy a ton and freeze it. Mushy avocados? Freeze ‘em. FREEZE EVERYTHING! I actually made wine ice cubes the other day, because I knew, much to Kevin’s dismay, that I wasn’t going to finish the bottle of wine. They were delicious in sparkling water. Bottom line…the freezer is your friend people, use it.
As much as the freezer does reduce food waste and helps you save money, it can be a deep dark hole. It’s very easy to forget what is in their, how long something has been in there and where it is. This is where organization comes in really handy. Here are some tried and true freezer tips and strategies:
- Use clear storage containers to group certain items together, so you can still see through the container and take it out easily when you need to look for something. I use this method for our grain products, leftovers and meats.
- Store things you use frequently or want to remember you have on the door. This is where I keep our veggies, fruit, homemade treats, and random bagged items like leftover sweet potato puree.
- Store leftovers as individual servings in Tupperware containers, for easy and fast meals. I made Kevin his favorite cheeseburger pie a while ago, but he didn’t want to eat all of it as leftovers. He told me he put the last slice in a container and put it in the freezer for later. My heart skipped a beat.
- When you freeze liquid leftovers like soups it helps if you add the contents to the Ziploc bag then lay it flat on baking sheet. Place the baking sheet in the freezer. Take it off the baking sheet once it is frozen and you have flat and skinny bags of soup that are easy to store. The bags fit well vertically in a container.
- Ice cube trays are a great way to keep individual servings of sauces. For example, I make big batches of pesto then freeze it in ice cube trays, so we can just grab a cube when we want to add pesto to something. I also love making huge batches of caramelized onions in the slow cooker and freezing onion ice cubes.
- Keep a list of what you have chillin’ in the freezer. When you do your meal plan, consult the list to see what you can use from the freezer. Also, when someone tells you there’s nothing to eat in the house, tell them to go look at the freezer list. You will likely win that battle.
- Frequently clean your freezer. Not only does this make it nice and shiny, but it induces those “oh yeah, I forgot about this” moments.
Want to know what we are eating from the freezer this week? Here’s our plan:
- Sunday: Spaghetti squash lasagna (sauce from freezer) + arugula salad
- Monday: Sliders (ground beef from freezer) + avocado (freezer) + sweet potato fries (freezer)
- Tuesday: Roasted sausages, cauliflower, mushrooms and potatoes
- Wednesday: Blueberry, walnut and goat cheese salad
- Thursday: Salsa chicken (from the freezer from a slow cooker meal) & veggie quesadillas (tortillas from freezer)
What do you like to freeze? I would love to hear about your freezer obsessions!