Foodsaver and deep freeze. Now what?
We spent our Christmas money on a small deep freeze and a food saver. So far I have meat, veggies,pasta sauce and chicken stock. I'm making chili tomorrow. What do you recommend for stocking up our freezer?
I mostly cook Midwest American, Italian and French. No food allergies.
Thanks for your input!
We have a few cooked items in our freezer, in one- or two-portion packages: confit duck legs, duck fat, slow cooked roast pork, soups. I like to keep about 1/4 to 1/3 of the freezer available for seasonal fruits and veg.
If you like to entertain, and cocktails are part of the fun, you may also want to keep a stash of ice handy :)
That's what fills my freezer and keeps my food saver busy!
Really though, be careful what you ask for. When I finally got around to getting a big freezer, I couldn't imagine what I would ever do with all that space. Now, even though I am in dire need of sides of both pork and beef, I can't order either because there's no room!
I always, always freeze bread. Homemade mostly--larger loaves cut in half and individually wrapped because there is only two of us, but I also find it's handy to have a spare loaf of sandwich bread stashed, too. I routinely freeze spare pans of breakfast rolls, quiches and croissants. Cooked meat is an AWESOME thing to have on hand, frozen. Pulled pork is my favorite because it's so versatile, but roast beef is good, too.
A 4x batch of tamales has been serving me well for a while.
splatgirl, that's what happened with me too. It's just two of us and it took a while for me to fill the thing up, thinking I never would. Now I'm considering a second one! I don't know how I ever managed without it.
We use it for many of the things already mentioned. Soups, breads, stock or stock ingredients as they come along, chili, burgers, etc. Any kind of saucy thing. I'm not big on reheated meat unless it is in a sauce or smoked on the grill. It just tastes funny to me. When we fire up the grill I just hate to waste all that heat so we do burgers, chicken, sausage until the fire goes out. Those freeze nicely and reheat well in the toaster oven.
A big portion of the freezer is also devoted to flours (especially whole grains), pasta, corn meal, rice, beans... pretty much anything weevils will eat or hatch from. One bout with those things taught me that.
I like to shop the big box retailers and "family size" sections of the grocery stores and look for things we like/use a lot-whole chickens, center cut pork chops, blocks of good cheese, pounds of butter, expensive cuts of meet when on sale, bagels, etc. I then break them down into sizes that make sense for our family and vacu-seal/freeze.
My son makes himself lot of chili, burritos, tacos etc when he gets home from sports so I also like to get a blocks of good cheddar and colby jack. I then shred it and vacu seal small bags of it. He can then grab a bag out of freezer and have freshly shredded cheese with all the stabilizers, anti-caking agents etc.
I also do a lot of batch cooking so when I make waffles I make triple batches and freeze, same with pancakes. Makes for fast easy breakfast in the AM. When I make cookies I make extra, form into balls and freeze so we (OK my son) can a throw a few in at a time and have freshly make cookies.
I also shop the produce sections and buy fruits and veggies when in season (cheaper). Some need to be prefrozen before vacu-sealing but it is so worth it. We had some local summer corn recently and it was SO good.
I have a second-hand Foodsaver that I use alot. When something like boneless/skinless chickn breasts are on sale, I'll buy a few packages. I'm cooking for one so a package is usually 4 pieces... WAY too much for one meal... would get tired of eating the left-overs. I seal/freeze individual portions. When I get home from school, can plop one (frozen rock hard) into a container of room temp water and it's ready to be cooked in less than half an hour.
Bags can be washed and reused. Have started makiing LONG bags to vac several portions. Then can open, take one out, and reseal.
Since I only have a 7 cu.ft. one, just the sale meat items, frozen vegetables, and a few bread items.
So like when St. Patrick day rolls around, 3-4 corned beef. Thanksgiving, two smaller turkeys, oxtail or beef tongue on reduced quick sale, I pick up a few. It all depends. While my freezer still has some room, not much.
I have to have room for the sale items, but for the most part, by the time those sales swing by, I have used up my stock of the item.
Your kitty is adorable!
Just a couple packaging suggestions rather than specific items. One, it is much easier to defrost/heat up several smaller portions than a big block of something. Also, more likely that those smaller packages will be used as someone's lunch. Two, I find it much easier to use zip-loc freezer bags for stocks and such, cheaper too. Again, smaller packages are easier when it comes to defrosting. A couple tips: use a 2-cup glass measuring cup to hold a quart-size bag, with a bit of the top folded out over the rim, while you pour into it. Then to get the most air out of a zip-loc, immerse (the partially open bag) into a larger container of water up to just below the top and finish sealing once the air is expelled. So much easier to store stacked flat bags than other containers, but you probably already know that.
Stock and sale meat items are most important.
Good stock improves dishes and cooking astronomically. Store your bones in ziploc bags in the freezer until you are ready to make stock. Keep some of your stock in 1 or 2 cup containers for when you just need some for a sauce.
On meat items, analyze what you eat on a regular basis. Become an expert on what is a good price on that meat. When you find it on a great sale, stock up. Every once in a while, you will find an astounding sale. When that happens, load up on it. Buy a 6 month supply. I like to buy whole boneless pork loins on sale and slice them myself.
I don't keep a lot of veggies in the freezer but I do keep chopped red and green bell peppers in one. When peppers are on sale, I buy 5 or 6 and chop them. I store about 3/4 of a pepper in rolled up sandwich bags. I put several of these in a bigger ziploc bag. I keep a bag of red and a bag of green in the freezer. When I need some chopped peppers I go to the freezer and pop one of the little sandwich bags full of chopped peppers out of the ziploc bag.
Buy and use a sharpie pen. Mark the contents and date frozen. You are going to be amazed that you can't exactly identify the contents in a few months.
Consider buying some freezer bins to hold food and organize your freezer. Keep all the chicken in one bin, the beef in another....etc.
Watch the Foodsaver web site for when the plastic rolls go on sale (50% off) with free shipping. Ebay also has some generic rolls that are much longer than the genuine foodsaver bags. I buy those too. If you know of other people using foodsavers, go in with them to purchase larger amounts on the web site.
DON'T use the pre-made bags. They are prohibitively expensive.
Keep the rubber seal on the Foodsaver clean. It will have to work harder to vacuum out the air if you don't.
Check out the Weston brand bags on Amazon. They work great and are much cheaper than Foodsaver brand.
I store my unit with the lid open because the sealing gaskets started sticking together.
One of my favorite things to have on hand is pulled pork. I smoke two butts at a time and portion it to make two servings per bag. Tastes just as good as new.
Spaghetti sauce. Chili. Beef stew (minus potatoes). Chicken stew with tomatoes. Tortillini soup. Ravioli. Chinese dumplings (potstickers, or the type you boil). Curried chickpeas. Chickpea stew. Fried rice (if you do Chinese style, leave the egg out until after re-heating). Rice and beans. Dhal. Home-made pesto. Romesco sauce. Roasted red peppers (really easy to make at home).
Roast meat can freeze well. Slice, and drizzle a bit of gravy or broth over the slices before sealing up, to keep it moist. Try with ham, pork shoulder, beef, or chicken breasts.
Roast vegetables and puree them for quick use in vegetable soups (or just freeze the finished soup).
Roast squash, mash it, and freeze - thaw and eat as a side dish.
The freezer is also great for throwing in small bits fo stuff to save. I have a bag of chicken bits (for stock), stale bread for bread pudding or bread soup, skins of tomatoes and red peppers and mushroom skins for when I make stock, chicken skins (for fried chicken skin), bean broth from cooking beans from dried, and whey from making panee (for soup and bread, respectively).