Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Processing Groceries/Shortcuts/Freezing

I thought I would share some things I do before/after grocery shopping to make my week go a little easier. I don't wash and cut everything up but I do try to take the time and process items to make things go smoother or help items last longer.  These tips may not work for everyone, but might for some! (If you use coupons and are good with that, awesome. Don't forget to take them with you, I'm horrible about that.)
  1. Make a menu. For all meals- including lunches to pack, snacks and have a leftover night. When planning a menu, I keep in mind that my family doesn't really like leftovers.  So I plan meals that I can use leftovers in or make extra of items to put in the next nights dinner as a shortcut. Examples- roasting peppers? Roast extra, peel and have ready for the rest of the week. Roasting a chicken? Plan a soup for the leftover meat and bones. That way, you're using the bones for stock right away and you don't have 4 bags of roasted chicken carcasses in your freezer waiting for stock day, not that I know anything about that. Making something with ground beef? Brown a couple extra packages. I did this last night. I browned three packages of ground beef. I made two batches of Red Sauce and one batch of taco meat. We had baked Ziti last night, I froze a batch of sauce for later and tonight we'll have tacos. Grilling chicken or meat? Grill extra for sandwiches/wraps/to top salads. Making a roast? Pork or beef- you can shred the extra meat for burritos or soups. (Anytime I can make extra of something to freeze that won't change the flavor or texture later, I do it. Waffles, pancakes, muffins, flash freezing cookie dough etc. If it won't freeze well but will keep for a couple days, I put it in the fridge until needed.)
  2. Meats- if there is a good deal on meats or family packs, I'll buy them. Make sure you have freezer bags, paper or food sealer bags and a sharpie- I puffy heart sharpies. Today it was chicken. I got 2 huge packs of chicken breasts on sale and 2 packs of drumsticks. I divided them into 6 bags with enough servings for a meal. A couple of the bags I labeled and put in the freezer as is. For the remaining bags, I put marinades into them, labeled them and put them in the freezer. I marinaded some with a quick Sesame Ginger sauce and the others I use Italian dressing and a Tomato basil marinade. For a quick meal, I let a bag of chicken thaw in the fridge overnight, then grill/broil/roast. Easy.  I also got a deal on a meatloaf mixture of veal, pork and beef so I'll make two meat loaves one night for dinner and freeze the other for later. Nothing has to go to waste because if it does you're wasting money! Believe me I know about this, I'm horrible with vegetables going bad.
  3. Vegetables, fruit and herbs. I don't pre cut vegetables for the week. I do find that wrapping my herbs or leafy vegetables like spinach in a paper towel makes them last a lot longer. The only time I cut vegetables is when I have time the night before I need them for a stir fry or  a roast. If certain items are on sale like mushrooms I'll buy them, saute them in butter, freeze in bags and they are ready for a sauce or meal later. One thing that helps me is making a list of what I have and putting it on the fridge. Whatever fresh veggies and fruit I have I make a list and check it through out the week. Because I end up buying extra for snacks and I forget we have them. If you have berries, apples/fruit that is really ripe and you aren't using it freeze it. It can be put in a smoothie later. For berries wash them and lay them on a cookie sheet to freeze. Once frozen put them in a bag to store. Peaches, apples and bigger fruit should be cut up, if you want toss in some lemon juice and water. Freeze like you would the berries. Ripe bananas can be frozen whole and thawed for banana breads/ pancakes/muffins/cakes later, they will be watery when thawed but are perfect for cooking with. Herbs can be cut up and put into an ice cube tray with water and frozen. Throw cubes into sauces when needed. You can also dry herbs if have more than you are going to use. (For a fun snack cut bananas and freeze them with grapes, berries and other fruits in a cookie sheet. Once frozen put them in little bags for a fun frozen treat.) 
  4. I also soak some of my fruit and veggies in a vinegar/water mix, let them dry, then put them away. This helps kills mold spores and everything lasts longer.
  5. If I buy cereal I put it into the containers I have, break down the boxes/bags and recycle. Same for any packaging, flour, sugar etc, there's so much excess!
  6. Use what you have. I'm working on this and getting better. Check the deep freeze and the pantry. Plan meals around what you have, then go BACK and double check to see if you already have lentils, oats or whatever- hiding out somewhere.
  7. KNOW what you have. Make a list of items you have in your freezer. I use a wipe board. List what you have and cross it off/erase it when used. That way it's easy to tell what you have and how much without having to open it up and digging through everything. I also make a list of fresh produce so I know what I need to use. On that list I put snacks for the kids that are in the fridge- carrots, apples, cheese etc. So if they ask for something I have options for them.
  8. Go grocery shopping before the weekly trash/recycling pick up. That way when you repackage items, or take things out of boxes you can clear that clutter and have it curbside right away.
  9. I'm sure I'm missing something but there you go, that's what I do

Thanks for reading Give Peas A Chance!
Find me on
 FacebookTwitter (@peasblog), Instagram (@peasknees), Google+

Pin It!