Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Freezer Cooking for single gals (and guys)

Freezer cooking is possibly the most useful tool for any one living alone that I have ever found on my way to developing healthy eating habits. The following info will cause many readers to go - well, duh! But it took me a while to figure all this out, and some of you who may have moved out of family homes lately might appreciate it :)

A search on the net for freezer cooking will lead you to many excellent sites with recipes and methods for storing an entire months worth of food in the freezer in one weekend. This is not exactly practical for your average singleton. The recipes can come in handy though.

You can freeze a LOT of stuff. Any meat or chicken will freeze just fine raw, and most casseroles, stews and a bunch of other dishes will freeze in portions for fast and easy meals. The key is having the right storage containers. Many of my friends swear by Tupperware, and who could blame them? Tupperware is awesome! I have a heap of fridgesmarts myself which I love. But let's face it, the stuff is hideously expensive.

For everyday freezing and lunch-packing, I use Decor. You can buy them everywhere - Woolworth's, Kmart and Howard's Storage World spring to mind. I use the 500ml square containers to freeze individual portions of most meals..I have 16 of them at last count. but you can also get away with containers like your Chinese takeaway comes in - you can buy packs of 10 for only a couple of dollars at most supermarkets.

Here's some of the things I freeze...
  • Raw meat and chicken in single serves (divide them up into 120g portions as soon as you get home from the shops, pop them into ziplock bags and store in a large container.
  • Single portions of Spaghetti Bolognaise, soup, casseroles, stews, Apricot chicken, steak in white sauce, fried rice, anything else you can cook in a slow cooker.
  • Beef, vegetable and chicken stock frozen in icecube trays, then stored in medium sized containers
  • White wine frozen in icecube trays, then stored in medium sized containers
  • Quiches and frittatas in single portions, but only if I really have to... They defrost OK but you wouldn't serve then to a guest. Wrap each portion in alfoil prior to freezing.
  • Frozen veg - for nights when I can't be bothered chopping up the fresh ones.
  • Bread, Hamburger buns, foccacias (without fillings) pizza bases, ciabatta rolls, turkish bread etc.

The average singleton can't really justify going out and buying a massive freezer to house a month's worth of food. But anyone can use their freezer to the best of their ability to avoid food wastage, get some variety into their diet and save money. Here's how it works.

  1. Make a meal plan for the next week. Include all your favourite meals that you haven't been making because you couldn't eat a whole batch before it went off. You may want to include one 'extra' meal just to freeze for later. Don't fret if you can't follow your meal plan for the week - it's just a guideline.
  2. Make a shopping list with all the ingredients you'll need for the week and go shopping. Don't forget to put ziploc bags and freezer containers on the list!
  3. While you're shopping, don't stress about how much you're buying and whether it will be wasted - except for fruit and fresh veg that won't keep. Try to buy those in the precise amounts needed.
  4. When you get home from the shops, freeze unneeded portions straight away. If you bought 500g of chicken, but you only need 125g this week, freeze the rest in 125g portions in the ziploc bags. same for unneeded bread rolls etc.
  5. Throughout the week, every time you cook something, freeze the uneaten portions. One night after dinner, you might want to take some time to cook a batch of pasta or whatever your 'standby' meal is to freeze.
  6. The next week, before you make your meal plan, check the freezer. Plan to use a few of your frozen meals during the week, or portions of meat that you've frozen.

So there it is. Some weeks you will have to do big shops, some weeks you may only need to buy fruit and veg. Some weeks you might actually not have to shop at all. Experiment and play around with it, eventually you will have a larger and larger repertoire to call on when making your meal plans.


1 comment:

Suzanne said...

Hi, I've just been reading a couple of posts on your blog. I'm in a similar situation, single and losing weight. One thing I like to keep in the freezer along with frozen veges is I&G Flame Grill fish. They're 390kj (less than 100cal) each serve and I can just put the fish and veges on the same plate in the microwave.