It’s that time of year when the piano recital is back to back with the hockey game, Aunty Paula and Uncle Joe need to be picked up from the airport and your boss wants that project done “yesterday”. What’s for supper?! Wouldn’t it be nice to have a freezer full of meals to pop in the oven while you toss together a quick salad or side? Red Seal Chef Camille Metcalfe came to rescue the Taste Buds Cook Book Club with tips and tricks on batch cooking a freezer full of meals to pull like a rabbit from a hat.
Using your freezer wisely saves you time and money letting you take advantage of grocery store specials or seasonal produce. Freezing food is a favourite method of preserving because it’s fast and easy and locks in the natural colour, flavour and nutrition of most foods. Vegetables in particular keep their colour and flavour better if they have been blanched in advance.
Here are some other “cool” tips:
- Know what’s freezable and what’s not. Generally, foods with a high moisture content (like watermelon) will turn to mush.
- Choose the right container. Freezer burn can be prevented by choosing packaging that prevents exposure to air.
- Freeze foods flat by pouring into freezer bags. Sealing and laying portion size bags flat until frozen makes them easier to stack.
- Label and date! Labelling containers with a permanent marker and masking tape is key to identifying and dating food. Camille recommended a “first in first out practice” to keep freezer space organized and provided a template to tape to the outside of your freezer to record and date items .
Here are a few of the Taste Buds’ ventures into freezer cook books:
Diane’s Apple Coffee Cake from Taste of Home: Freezer Pleasers
Marion’s Rustic Apple Cheese and Mustard Scones from Freeze & Easy
Melinda’s Italian Sausage and Spinach Pie from Once a Month Cooking: Family Favourites
and from the “gimme some oven” blog, Colleen’s Cheesy Breakfast Casserole
Preparing a batch of freezer meals will help you juggle your busy life and save you time and money. Winnipeg Public Library has plenty of cookbooks to help you master the art of make ahead freezer meals. Getting home at 5 o’clock knowing there’s a meal ready to go will make life a lot easier – so get freezing!