Monday, September 3, 2012

Freezer Cooking

After the sense of relief I felt when maintenance delivered the new refrigerator and I could actually keep dairy again, my next project was stocking the freezer.  The rather shallow freezer, but my roommate says she doesn't use it so I can use what space there is.

I started doing this last year.  Makes my life a little bit easier, to be able to grab lunch on the way out the door or have dinner mostly prepared way ahead of time.  In particular, it helps keep me from being tempted to go get takeout (which is more convenient now than it was in undergrad, except that produces a lot of trash and I have to spend real money and not dining dollars).  Right now, I've got 4 types of pre-prepared foods, plus some ground turkey that I pre-portioned and froze. 

My freezer! Top shelf has pyrex pans holding foil packets of fish and ground turkey.
Muffins in silicone liners on the door, compost bag, containers of soup concentrate and mini burgers.
I've made the first three items before.  Instant vegetable soup concentrate and pumpkin yogurt corn muffins make the base of a simple lunch - I usually add a greek yogurt for protein and maybe some fruit.  The recipe calls for wrapping portions in plastic wrap, but I've found that an ice-cube tray works just as well.  Once the portions of concentrate are frozen, I transfer them to other containers and wash out the ice-cube trays.  The muffins are really tasty; they get even better when made with plain greek yogurt.  Tangier and a little drier, but I like the contrast with the soup.

Mini burgers are delicious, a kind of cross between meatballs and hamburger.  In the past I've used meatloaf mix, but this time I just used ground beef from the Greenmarket: expensive but very good.  Probably higher in fat than your average grocery store ground beef which might be part of it...oh well.  They just need starch (rice, usually) and vegetables to make a meal.  Sometimes I mix them in with sauteed vegetables and marinara sauce to go with pasta.

All three of those recipes come from Just Bento, a website dedicated to healthy and tasty lunches.  Most of the recipes are Japanese or Japan-inspired and require cooking in the morning - I'm lazy and just hunt down the freezer recipes for lunches (occasionally I make one of the other ones for dinner though).  The soup/muffin/yogurt combo in particular is easy to grab out of the freezer/fridge in the morning.

My other recipe is an experiment that thankfully turned out very well.  The basic recipe is Lemon Caper Tilapia Packets from Once a Month Mom.  I didn't have capers and there wasn't any tilapia at the Greenmarket soooo...I bought flounder and just used parsley I had in the fridge.  I froze six prepared fillets and cooked one for dinner.  Turned out alright, a little blander than it's probably intended but still tasty.  The halved cherry tomatoes are my favorite part, I got good fresh red and yellow ones.

So with 12 servings of soup, 6-7 servings of mini-burgers, and 6 servings of flounder, that's at least 24 meals there.  Plus the pound of ground turkey and I'm not buying any more meat this month.  Vegetables are easy to get twice a week, and rice/bread are easily found in my kitchen to complete the meals.  Usually those two things require either a short amount of cooking when I want to eat them, or a long-but-mostly-unattended-time, which amounts to the same thing when I don't have much energy for cooking.

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