Mise en Place in your freezer - what are you stocking your freezers with, Chowhounds?
We've all heard of Once a Month Cooking. The horrors of badly reheated meals, the luxury of the occasional no-cook night... it all depends on who you're talking to, and how they're doing it! As chowhounds, we probably love cooking too much to really buy in to only doing it in crazy one-day marathons, but what about those freezer staples that you swear by? For me, I'm talking about the stash of Twice Baked Potatoes (courtesy of A Turtles Life For Me), the blocks of frozen pie dough, and the caramalized onions that are chilling in my freezer, ready to make cooking a little faster and a lot more delicious at a moments notice!
What are your favorite stand-bys to make extra of and freeze?
I make meal kits.
For instance, I bought 5# of frozen crawfish. So I split it up into 4 bags with a quarter of a diced onion, an andouille linked cut up, and small pouch of flat beer. I always have corn on the cob in my freezer so when I feel lazy, I can do crawfish boils very quickly.
Another kit would be my oxtail kit. When I get low I start searching the meat departments and when I see them reduced for quick sell I pick them up and toss them in my freezer which I pair up with round steak also on sale. So when I make my soup, they are bagged together for ease of use.
But mostly it's pre-bagged veggie mixes I blended as I like them.
I like to make marinated or rubbed meats in ziplocs that I can just defrost and cook when ready. They work beautifully as ice blocks in a cooler on camping trips.
I recently have made pork vindaloo package. Fajitas, hamburgers, steaks and ribs have all been frozen with a rub or marinade.
We didn't do it this winter, but my fiance usually adds spices to a few of the venison steaks before they go in the freezer. Usually its just something simple like garlic powder and lemon pepper, but its nice for when he's cooking for himself. Just thaw and throw in the skillet.
Whenever I make manicotti or stuffed shells, I always have extra to put in the freezer. I portion out the stuffed shells into individual portions and freeze them that way, but with the manicotti I do an entire 8x8 foil dish. I've also done mini meatloafs (meatloaves?)
I also freeze leftover wine (I know, a travesty, but I can't drink enough before it goes bad) and pesto into ice cube trays. Once frozen I dump them into ziploc bags. Each cube is about 2 tbsp.
It varies. Always stock of some sort. Right now, in addition to the stock, I have cannelini beans and meal-sized portions of chorizo. With some kale, I'll have easy and good soup.
The only thing I do this with at the moment is bacon. We buy a five pound package, and I separate it out and freeze it. Usually it's about 4 slices to a bag. That way I usually have bacon on hand for a recipe, and it keeps my fiance from frying up a whole pound of bacon for breakfast!
I freeze pesto, garlic confit, tomato paste and chipotles regularly, but when we were doing the October COTM (660 Curries) I also picked up the author's tip about making and freezing caramelized onion paste and ginger paste - they come in very handy for Indian cooking, but for many other non-Indian dishes as well.
I also freeze breadcrumbs (made from homemade loaves that either didn't turn out well or didn't get eaten), buttermilk (in ice cube trays) and yogurt (for starter when I make my own).
The only things that are in the freezer at all times are stocks (always chicken, sometimes beef,) and chipotles in adobo pureed and put in a tight closing container (though I really don't worry about freezer burn because we go through it so fast.)
Meat changes with our moods, we don't really buy frozen veggies or freeze them very often(mild climate, we grow year round and fresh veggies are cheap and easy to get.) We only have the freezer that is part of the refrigerator so space is limited and I work at home so items that take a long time to make like caramelized onions aren't a problem for me. I enjoy having things simmering on the stove all day. There's great info in this thread so far, though- it's great to know what I can freeze if I need to!
Around Thanksgiving time, I go crazy buying whole frozen turkeys when they are on sale for 50 cents a pound. I roast one and then cut it up into portions which I freeze. Having the frozen slices of cooked turkey meat available is a great timesaver for lunches and quick dinners. I still have one 22 pound bird left in my freezer to roast soon.
Yesterday, I made a gallon of black bean chili and froze single serving containers of that, which I can bring to work for lunch.
Our freezer is a hodgepodge of stuff but some of the constants include lobster shells for both stock and bisque, plastic bags with baguette ends, hamburger patties I made from freshly-ground chuck/short rib/brisket, butt ends of Parmigiano Reggiano. I also keep a stash of deep dish pizzas that I order from Lou Malnati's in Chicago. I order 'em six at a time.
Soup / stew - I normally fill my 3 gallon pot with what ever I am making and freeze for the days I don't feel like cooking.
Chicken Bones for making stock.
Sofrito (Daisy Marteniz's recipe) Freezes very well.
Frozen chicken stock in both containers as well as in ice cube trays.
Basque Chorizo - I pick them up or my mom buys them for me back home.
Bacon Ends and Pieces - I just saw off a bit when I need bacon flavor for something... it's a great trick.
Ginger - I rarely use the whole amount I am buying so I find it freezes really well (though soft when thawed in stir fry etc I can't tell the difference in stir fry's etc).
Kaffir Lime Leaf.
Wooster sauce, fish sauce, chilli garlic sauce, several types of hot sauce.
re: c oliver
Yup, I do that with my bone broth. But even so! Someday my large chest freezer will come... (sung to the tune of Someday My Prince Will Come)
Had to edit as I didn't give myself enough credit. Besides the ziplocs of bone broth, I do have ziplocs of mashed avocado (for smoothies) and ziplocs of ham bones and leftover sliced ham waiting to become bean soup. I also have a quart container of the ham juices I saved from baking the aforementioned ham.
Seems like I'm set for some stuff after all!
Stocks: Chicken, beef, mushroom, duck, pho base
Pizza shells - a modified version of Batali's.
Candied cherries and citrus rinds
Duck breasts - I usually butcher 4 at a time, making confit, stock and rendering fat in one fell swoop.
Leftovers that reheat well.
Butter. I buy in bulk when it's on sale.
Ice packs. Good for impulse buys in the warmer weather when a thermal pack is part of the shopping routine.
I like the idea of the onions.
Stock (beef, chicken, and vegetable)
Pounded chicken breasts and hamburger shaped in patties
Big bag of potstickers from Costco
Tub of home made gelato
ziploc of vegetable trimmings to make more stock
Sometimes an extra loaf of bread
How much I have depends a lot on space, but it can include:
Pre-cooked meat (sauteed chicken, roasted pork, stewed beef shanks, bacon, sausages) that can be used as the base of a quick meal. Ditto for cooked chickpeas and beans.
Sauces of various sorts - tomato sauce, bolognese sauce, romesco sauce, pesto sauce.
Flattened baggies of tomato paste, reduced stock, adobe sauce and pesto, so I can easily break off a small amount to toss into another dish.
Roasted red peppers, ready to toss into a pasta (I get the peppers when they're on sale, and roast a batch). Roasted, mashed squash or pumpkin, ready for a side dish, or the base of a soup. Various other roasted and chopped or pureed vegetables that can go into soups or sauces.
Frozen pizza dough, rolled out into individual pizza sides. With a pizza sized portion of sauce frozen in a bag, it makes a quick base for a meal.
For premade, heat and eat stuff - homemade dumplings, perogies and/or ravioli, lasagne, various soups and stews.
Plus bits of leftovers. I'll freeze Thai curry or and coconut milk if I don't want to use a whole container of each, for example, or the end of a loaf of bread, for use in bread soup or bread pudding.
lemon zest, lemon juice - I buy a small bag of lemons and keep 2-3 in the fridge, then zest, juice & freeze the rest.
orange zest (for orange scones when the mood strikes)
sliced raw green peppers - 5/6 slices per chili soup recipe
diced raw red peppers - add color and flavor to anything
raw bacon - slices cut in half and 4 half-slices per package. Just enough for a solo breakfast or one BLT sandwich.
Rice - for stir-fry's, rice pudding;
Wild Rice because it takes just as long to cook the full pound (an hour or more) as it would to make a cup.
I like to make buckets of bolognese sauce and pack them into little containers. Spaghetti one day, lasagna another, use it as bao filling...
I do the same with pomodoro sauce (pasta! Pizza! Soup!) and puréed soups too.