March 18, 2013
A friend gave me a book about baby food when my first child was at that stage. It talked about cooking, pureeing, and freezing food in ice cube trays so when you need to feed baby, you have the perfect amount. I know a lot of people who do this.
It also talked about when baby is older and you need to freeze larger amounts of food, put the food in baggies (just cheap, sandwich bags) and nestle them in a large freezer bag. That way, they are already in individual portions and the only big expense is the one freezer bag.
I have taken this information and run with it. I never actually used it for baby food but I use it for EVERYTHING else.
BEANS: I do not like buying beans (or anything, for that matter) in a can. There are a LOT of things in the can besides beans. Besides, beans in a bag are way cheaper. Because we eat a mainly vegetarian diet at home, we eat a good number of beans.
So, here’s what I do:
- Soak the beans overnight
- Rinse them the next day
- Put them in a pot of fresh water
- Bring to a boil
- Boil for 30 min or so
- Rinse in a colander w/cold water
- Let them come to room temp
- Scoop 15oz (about 2 cups), which is how much a typical can of beans is, into a cheap sandwich bag (not the zip kind – the kind that fold over)
- Nestle sandwich bags into a gallon freezer bag.
- Place in freezer on ‘beans/meat’ shelf
Now, when you have a recipe where you need a can of beans, take a sandwich bag out of the freezer in the morning to let thaw, and you’re good to go. The only ‘work’ you do is that first day and you have 8-9 cans-worth of beans on hand for a 2lb bag of beans ($1.98). Cheap, easy, AND healthy!
COLESLAW: Shred a whole, medium cabbage ($1.37) and 2 carrots (1lb bag organic is $1.12) w/the food processor. Mix in a big bowl with salt & pepper.
Fill sandwich bags w/coleslaw, nestle in a freezer bag! The bowl is for our dinner tonight of sloppy joes (made with mashed chickpeas and pinto beans instead of meat), roasted potatoes, coleslaw, and creamed kale.
I bought a medium cabbage and filled the bowl and sandwich bags with about 2.5 cups because we like it so much. When I first started making it, I only did a cup & a half. As our taste buds have grown (don’t give up on picky eaters!), the kids have asked for more and more. We are also a family of seven so if you are a smaller family, you could get a lot more than 5 meals out of one cabbage and two carrots. Either way, I spent less than $2 on all of the ingredients and got FIVE meals out of it! Not bad at all!
You only get the food processor messy one time! When you want to have coleslaw, take it out of the freezer in the morning to let it thaw, press it in a sieve (to get excess water out) then add mustard & mayo. Viola! Yummy, easy, cheap, HEALTHY coleslaw! (Just look at the ingredients in a container of coleslaw the next time you’re in the store) 😛
SMOOTHIES (yes, smoothies!): I used to make smoothies every morning for the kids…then I bore the lightest. sleeper. EVER. I make breakfast for the kids before they get up but one little noise and the baby is UP = no more morning smoothies.
Freezing locks all of the nutrients in so all you have to do is make a big batch of smoothies, pour 8oz into a zipping sandwich bag, and nestle those flat into a freezer bag. I have learned 1st hand, if you just stack them like other, dryer food, the bags kind of intertwine and it is difficult to get them apart.
The night before, take the bag out of the freezer and you have your super healthy smoothie on the way to work – it is sometimes more like a slushie but it is still good and nutritious! 😀
We drink such a large amount of smoothie (family of 7 here) that we just stick a huge batch in the gallon freezer bag (w/o portioning it out) but you will have to decide what works for your family.
And the list goes on and on. Pumpkin puree (frozen in 2c portions for pancakes)…Spinach out of the garden (frozen fresh – no need to cook – in portions enough for a smoothie…smoothie is going to be cold anyway – sticking frozen spinach in it is not going to mess anything up!)…
I am linking to Simple Lives Thursday, as this truly can simplify your life! This is once a month freezer cooking minus spending a WHOLE day making casseroles (yuck!)
What food do you freeze? Have you ever tried this? How else do you save money when preserving your harvest?