Kaylor: Dinner’s in the Freezer!
Preparing freezer meals can help you stretch your budget and your time. You can make
your own convenience foods with your favorite ingredients that are on sale at the grocery store. If you are on a special diet, you can adjust the recipes to fit your needs. Later, all you do is thaw and cook.
Making Freezer Meals
Try making several recipes on a “cooking day” with family or friends. Keep things moving smoothly with these tips:
Be sure you have space in your freezer before you begin. You may need to reorganize your storage area.
Gather freezer containers or freezer bags, marking pens and other supplies you need. You might prefer to use disposable foil pans, especially if you are exchanging meals with other people.
Check which ingredients you already have, and then create a detailed shopping list that combines the ingredient amounts from all your recipes. For speedy shopping, organize your list according to the layout of your favorite grocery store.
Organize your workspace and assemble the tools and equipment you need.
Combine similar tasks. If several recipes require chopped onions, chop them all at once.
When using zip-top freezer bags, squeeze out as much air as possible. Flatten the bags to stack easily.
Thaw frozen food in the refrigerator.
These are some “make-ahead” meals that you can prepare and freeze in meal-size portions. Simply thaw in your refrigerator or microwave oven. Don’t thaw foods on a countertop or sink because bacteria can grow and produce toxins that can survive cooking.
Barbecued pulled pork or beef
Chili (see the recipe on the back)
From: Julie Garden-Robinson, Food and Nutrition Specialist, NDSU Extension Service
1 pound lean ground beef, cooked
1 medium onion, diced
1 (14.5-ounce) can corn, drained and rinsed
1 (14.5-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 (14.5-ounce) can navy beans, drained and rinsed
1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
2 (14-ounce) cans diced tomatoes
1 (4.5-ounce) chopped green chilies
1 package taco seasoning, reduced sodium
To freeze: Place all ingredients in a gallon-size zip-top bag and put in the freezer. When ready to make, thaw in a refrigerator for 24 hours.
To cook: Place in a slow cooker on low for four to six hours. Heat to an internal temperature of at least 165 F. Serve with shredded cheese and tortilla chips.
Makes six servings. Each serving has 300 calories, 4 grams (g) fat, 25 g protein, 44 g carbohydrate, 10 g fiber and 450 milligrams sodium.
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