Cooking Quickly for One or for Many
We seem to have so little time to cook for our families in today's busy world. When our children move away, we empty-nesters must cook for one or two, and we still are too busy to cook. No matter the situation, we eat out too often, spend too much money, and eat too much food that has too many calories with too little nutritional value.
By keeping these six items in your freezer in portion sizes to fit your needs, you can have healthy meals with little waste, that are quick and easy for today's busy lifestyles. Spending a little time each month to prepare will save on time and money later to get a healthy meal on the table in minutes.
Pasta and Pasta Sauce -- Pre-cook pasta (the heavier, thicker pastas like rotini, ziti, etc. work best) to the point of just under al dente. Do not rinse. Store batches of unsauced pasta in freezer containers/bags in portions to suit your needs. Make your tomato-based sauces (marinara, mushroom, roasted garlic, etc.) and freeze in similar sized batches.
Ground Meat -- Whether you prefer beef, chicken, pork or turkey, buying or grinding it yourself and then cooking in batches ahead of time with the vegetables you use most often (onions, garlic, peppers), and freezing in manageable portions, you can add to your sauces, soups, chili, or have a head start on casseroles. My favorite is to heat up tortillas and use the meat as my base for tacos or quesadillas.
Homemade Stock -- A good stock is so much healthier than the store-bought, which is usually high in sodium. Save the carcass from your roasted poultry and put it in a pot with chopped carrots, celery, onions (mirepoix) and a bay leaf, thyme or other herbs. (This is a good way to use up those limp carrots or celery ribs.). Fill the pot halfway with water and simmer, all day if you want. Cool the stock, strain and put in containers or freeze in ice cube trays, then pop out and store the stock cubes in bags for later use. PERFECT for stir-frying vegetables without fat!
Rice and Other Grains -- As with pasta, cooking grains ahead of time, can save time later, especially when needing single portions. Brown rice, red wheat, barley, quinoa are all healthy options that freeze well after cooking. Add to soup, broth, stir-fried dishes, or as a base for other dishes.
Beans and Legumes -- Cook up your favorite beans, lentils, split peas from its dried form and freeze in portion sizes to give any dish a healthy protein-packed, low-fat, high-fiber boost.
Vegetables -- Chopped onions, green and red bell peppers, peas, corn, broccoli, asparagus all are great staple vegetables to keep in your freezer to have on hand to throw a great meal together with the other things you have in your freezer. Before freezing, blanch any vegetables in salted, boiling water for one to three minutes, and put them immediately into an ice bath. Drain/dry well, before storing in airtight freezer bags/containers.
With these few items on-hand in the freezer you can come up with numerous ideas for meals for your family or if you are cooking for one. Save time, save money and save calories on this fast-food!
One word of warning : Make sure you label all your packages with the contents and the date! Otherwise, you will have to deal with "Mystery Freezer Meals"!!
Content migrated from Bubblews. Originally written on 8 Dec 2014, and adapted for republishing.
Coral Levang © 2015 All rights reserved.
Photo credit: Pixabay.com
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