Save Time with Big Batch Cooking
Tips for Meal Planning
-- By Laura Bofinger, Staff Writer
(Storage time of 3-4 months)
Spaghetti or rice dishes
Lasagna (with meat or vegetables)
Soups (lentil, split pea, black bean)
Stews (beef, veal, vegetarian)
Chili (lean beef or chicken)
(Storage time of 1-2 months)
Whole Grain Muffins
Whole-wheat waffles or pancakes
Some foods do not freeze well and do not retain good quality after thawing. These include: cabbage, celery, lettuce, parsley, radishes, cooked egg whites, cream or custard fillings, milk sauces, sour cream, cheese or crumb toppings, mayonnaise, salad dressing, gelatin, and fried foods. Depending on the meal you’re freezing, some of these items can be added in fresh after heating up your batch.
Here are some tips to remember as you start implementing your regular Big Batch Weekends.
- Choose recipes that are conducive to cooking in large quantity and freezing.
- Have the right containers on hand that are appropriate for the meal size you'll want later. For example, if you want reheatable single-serve lunches or dinners, choose small plastic containers with lids or resealable baggies.
- Use containers or bags that are easy to label. Write the date on your frozen food portion. You’ll want to reheat most foods by the third or fourth month at the latest.
- Rotate the placement of foods in the freezer so that you’re eating the oldest ones first. First in, first out.
- Always cool foods properly before freezing to help retain flavor and ward off growth of bacteria. Never leave prepared food at room temperature fir longer than two hours. When you defrost, do not leave food at room temperature. This encourages bacteria growth and uneven thawing. Instead, defrost on a tray in the refrigerator or in a microwave on a low power setting.
- Trim the fat from meats and do not season prior to freezing. Seasoning before freezing shortens the storage life. Wrap meats and poultry in aluminum foil, pressing out excess air.