About a week and a half ago I did a ton of grocery shopping and cooking, stocking up on lots of food. So now we are doing what I call "eating down the freezer (or pantry)." This is basically a period of time when we are a little busier than usual and I fill the pantry and freezer to the brim. During this time, my goal is to eat every single edible thing in the home so all I have to do is pick up an occasional half gallon of milk at the store for a week or two!
It took me a while to get good at this process...stock piling then cooking down. And I find that many people don't know or understand the full potential of their freezer. Let me be the one to tell you the good news...YOU CAN FREEZE ALMOST ANYTHING! I love this fact not only for catching a break from being the full time cook in the home, but also because when using my freezer to it's max capacity, I don't waste so much food which means MONEY SAVED!
So for what it is worth...here is my freezer knowledge...
- You can freeze most any vegetable besides lettuce and later use it for soup or a casserole...tomatoes, onions, diced celery, peppers, carrots, etc. I can't tell you how many times I made chicken salad, used two stalks of celery, then threw out the rest. Oh the waste!
- Freeze meat! I almost never pass up a marked down rib-eye. If I don't have plans to work it in my weekly meals, I throw it in the freezer and pull it out later on a Friday night. (Once, on a diaper run, I bought (what seemed like) a 20 lb pork loin because it was $11...so cheap. I froze it, and later fed us and practically the whole neighborhood for days.)
- Also you can freeze meat that has been previously frozen and then COOKED. Freeze, cook, and re-freeze if needed.
- You can freeze butter, cheese, & cream cheese.
- My mom tells she freezes whole tomatoes, then uses them for spaghetti and chili. I usually dice mine first...but if you are pressed for time, just stick the whole thing in there.
- Bread, cakes, bagels, & cookies all freeze well too!
- Oh, and don't forget over ripe bananas for banana bread.
In closing, I will say one very important thing to keep in mind when maximizing your freezer...you must make a policy to plan and eat the food you have frozen. Don't leave stuff in there for months and years. Commit to having "eat down the freezer" weeks! It's fun to do this and get creative. Sure, you will have a night when you are eating thawed out spaghetti sauce on macaroni noodles with previously frozen hotdog buns used for garlic bread. But you will save money, not waste so much food, and spare yourself a night (or many nights) of cooking!