Tuesday, January 17, 2012

When you're freezing and its a good thing...

Today we will be focusing on purchasing and prefreezing meats & meals.  The first thing you need to do is get your shopping on.  I have a large deep freeze so I was able to hit up the local grocery store  and purchase some pretty good deals.  I came home with 20 lbs of ground beef, 2 boston butt roasts, 2 beef roasts, 2 packs of chicken quarters, 2 packs of pork chops a rack of ribs.

I focused on a different type of meat each day to prep and freeze.  I did not do all this in one day, it was over the course of a week.


My favorite product of recent is the 10 lb+ chubs of ground beef my local store has been carrying.   You can go with their special sale ground beef which is $5 for less than 2 lbs of meat or you can pay $22.58 for 10.31 lbs. That's only $2.19 per lb, whereas the other is an average $2.50+ a lb or go to other stores and pay $2.99 a lb.  I think not. I happened to come across two of these lovely money saving chubs on my last shopping trip and yes I snatched them both up.

They are restaurant quality meat and have less fat than your normal ground beef but a little more than the lean, but its way cheaper.

Once home, I separated each of the  ground beef chubs into 8 equal chunks, about 1.2  lbs each, which gave me 16 equal pieces. 9 of those chunks went into quart ziplock bags to be frozen for later use.

1 1/2 chunks were sliced into 6 hamburger patties for premade burgers.    I placed one patty on a piece of wax paper, covered it with another, used a rolling pin to flatten it a bit, then placed the 2nd patty on top of the wax paper, covered it with another piece and rolled it.  They were all then placed in a gallon ziplock back for freezing.

2 1/2 chunks went into the Ice Queen for that nights dinner of  meatloaf.   The remaining 3 chunks were used  to prep two different tomato sauces and stuffed pepper filling for freezing.

For the first sauce, I borrowed a recipe from my friend Kristin and it was made especially for me, as she uses bell pepper and onions.  My husband will not eat either of those, hence why its labeled "Kristin's Sauce for Lesha."
  • Sweet Sausage
  • Powdered Italian Dressing mix
  • Garlic cloves 
  • Diced Onion 
  • Diced bell pepper 
  • a can of tomato paste
  • 2 big cans of crushed tomatoes 
  • honey 

There isn't really any measurement to this which made quite easy for me as I just tossed things in as I went along.   I didn't have any sweet sausage, so I used ground beef instead and compensated by using atleast 2-3 tbs of honey to make it sweet.   

Cook the sausage/beef  and when its half way done add the garlic, onion, pepper and dressing mix. Cook until done, then drain off the fat before adding the other ingredients.  I let this simmer for a few hours before bagging it to freeze.

 In the future I plan to try the sweet sausage as this sauce was fantastic, the sweet with the veggies made it delicious.  I will admit I ate some of it while it was cooking....just sauce by itself, it was that good!

Visit Survivor Mom for more recipes from Kristin and some helpful couponing advice. 

My second sauce was also borrowed from a friend.  Dana's recipe will be used for the husband and children who just don't appreciate the art of a sauce with veggies.
  • 1 lb ground beef 
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 onion (omitted by me)
  • 1 tb basil 
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 2 tbs brown sugar 
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt 
  • 1 can (29 oz) diced tomatoes
  • 2 (6 oz) cans of tomato paste 

Brown the meat with the garlic, drain fat.  Add in the rest of the ingredients and simmer for atleast 45 minutes.  Again I let this simmer for hours before bagging it.  Another fantastic sauce that I will definitely  be using again!

Obviously the stuffed peppers are for me as well, since my family wont eat peppers or onions in anything they certainly wont eat anything out of them.   I made up a good amount of filling and prefroze two stuffed peppers just as an experiment to see if they freeze well.

My Stuffing
  • 1 lb of ground beef 
  • 1/2 chopped onion
  • 1 cup cooked brown rice 
  • 1 cup of tomato sauce 
  • 2 tsps Worcestershire sauce 
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp basil 
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper 
  • cheddar cheese

The first thing I did was blanch the peppers.  Drop them into a pot of boiling water for about 2 minutes, making sure they remain firm.  Pull them out and let cool on paper towels.

Cook the ground beef and onion until done, drain fat.  Add in the cooked rice and seasonings.   After the mixture cooled, I added in some cheddar cheese then stuff the bell peppers.

I bagged the remaining mixture in a quart ziplock bag, then let the stuffed peppers stand in the freezer on a cookie sheet to freeze slightly.  Then I wrapped the peppers individually in plastic wrap, the prefreezing makes it so none of the mixture sticks to the plastic wrap.  Then I stored each of them in a separate ziplock in the freezer.

For reheating, I will let thaw at room temperature, then warm in the oven, adding some tomato sauce and cheddar cheese to the top.


I placed a pack of thawed chicken quarters in a pot of boiling water and another pack in the crock pot covered in water.  I added in some seasonings (weber's garlic & herb) and let both simmer all day until the chicken fell off the bone.  

Strain the chicken, reserving the broth and pull the skin and bones out.  I tossed the chicken pieces into The Ice Queen and using the dough hook, I let it shred.  I was able to get 4 quart bags of shredded chicken and two gallon bags of broth out of those two packs of chicken quarters (4 lbs each).   I have used the shredded chicken for salads, soups,  quesadillas, chicken salad sandwiches, and Chinese potstickers.  The uses are unlimited.


For the pork, I did our usual BBQ rub, consisting of two things.  Dry BBQ powder (Rendezvous seasoning)  and mustard.  Plain old yellow Mustard.   First you rub the pork with the mustard then sprinkle on the seasoning. (We prep ribs the same way!)

Wrap the roast in foil and cook in a 200 degree oven for hours until the meat is cooked and fall apart tender.  (usually 6-8)  I usually do two roasts.  One I shred and freeze and the other we have for that night's dinner.   I freeze it alone and add homemade BBQ sauce (a la the Husband) to it when its served.

With the pork chops, I just freeze 4 chops in a gallon ziplock bags for easy thawing for a future night's dinner.  Usually I end up with 4 packs of 4 from 2 large packs of chops.


With the beef roast, I just crock pot it and cook it.  Usually we eat the entire thing in one meal, Ive never prefroze any, though it would probably make for great stew meat for later use.

I do however save the broth for the purpose of soup or stew.   Using two ice cube trays, I freeze individual cubes of broth, then store them in quart ziplock bags to add to soup stocks later on.


Using 2 bags of potatoes (3 lbs each), I decided to make up a few things for later use.  My first experiment was Twice Baked Potatoes.  Using my normal baked potato process, I drizzled olive oil on 12 potatoes, sprinkled on some kosher salt, wrapped in foil and baked at 200 degrees for about an hour.   When the potatoes were done and cooled, I sliced each of them and spooned out the insides, tossing it into the Ice Queen.   To the potatoes I added,
  • 4 oz cream cheese
  • ranch dressing 
  • salt n pepper
  • milk
  • green onions
Mix it all up real good, then using a frosting bag, I piped the filling into the potato halves and topped several of them with a slice of cheddar cheese & bacon bits.  I placed all of them on a cookie sheet and stuck them in the freezer for about 30-45 minutes until the mixture and cheese was solid, then wrapped each half individually in plastic wrap before placing them in gallon ziplock bags.

These are great snacks and can be heated easily in the microwave.  They are perfect for my potato loving boy, Mason.  He believes they are all his.

Next I decided to make some hashbrowns.  I had done this before but it turned out horrid.  Apparently  you are supposed to cook the potatoes before you shred them, who knew?    So I tossed 10 potatoes into a casserole dish with a lid and baked them for about an hour, then let them cool.   After cooling, I peeled the skins off (quite easily!) and then using a cheese grater, shredded them up.  It was so easy I couldn't believe I hadn't done it before...

I cooked some up for breakfast that morning and  bagged up 3 more servings (for a family of 4) in quart ziplock bags. The process was the same as the twice baked.  I spread the hashbrowns out on a cookie sheet and froze them first before putting them in the bags so that they didn't stick together.

That is all the freezing experimenting Ive done for now, but I do plan on doing more in the future.  My next goal is to prep some casseroles to freeze as I am expecting a little one in June and  I think already having meals on hand would be a blessing for me and a great help for the Husband.

Thanks for taking the time to read this entry, please comment and let me know some of the prefrozen meals you have prepared and link me to any blog entries you may have on the subject.   We always give credit to any outside information we use in our blog here.   Thanks so much!