Better Budgeting: How to Prepare and Freeze Food for Busy Nights

How to Prepare and Freeze Food for Busy Nights

Money Saving Tip of the Month (featured column)
submitted by Betsy West of Virginia

I've realized that many meals I make call for some staple ingredients that require some prep work. To save time on cooking and clean up, I watch for sales and then prepare these foods in bulk and freeze them in typical quantities needed for our favorite recipes and meals.

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Here are the bulk foods I prep and freeze frequently:

Ground Beef

I buy 4 pounds at a time and brown it all at once. Typically, I need 1 pound for that night's dinner. So I divide what I've cooked into quarters. I use one immediately. I label 3 freezer bags "1 lb cooked ground beef" with the date, then put one quarter of the beef in each bag.

Rice

I like to use the same technique for rice that I do for ground beef. I usually freeze rice in 2 cup quantities because it's usually the amount I need for a meal.

Chicken

I use chopped and shredded chicken breast in a lot of recipes. I realized buying split chicken breast was cheaper than boneless, skinless breasts. I put as many as will fit in my large Crock Pot. Then I add seasonings (salt, pepper, & garlic) and sometimes carrots and onions. Next, I fill the pot with water until its about an inch from the top. I cook it on low for 6-8 hours. When it's done, I can easily debone the chicken and chop or shred it. I freeze it in 2 cup quantities. Then I strain the liquid and have chicken stock too! I also freeze that in 2 cup bags.

Onions

I used to be famous for buying large bags of onions because it was cheaper per pound. Then, I didn't use them all before they started to rot, and I wasted the food and savings. Now, I buy the bag and slice, chop, and dice the ones I won't be using that week. I measure the quantity in cups and label freezer bags to freeze them. Sometimes I have a 1 cup bag of diced onions and only need half of a cup, so I'll take out half and relabel the bag.

There are other foods you can prep and freeze too, but these are the ones I always use. It saves time and money in the kitchen and keeps me from leaning on take-out for busy nights. Much of the work is already done.

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Copyright © 2014 by Betsy West. All rights reserved.

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