Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Works For Me Wednesday: Cooking Ahead


I don't know what I'd do if I didn't cook ahead a bit and put it in the freezer. I mentioned a few of these tips in a post several months ago, but not as an official WFMW tip and with the holidays approaching, it seemed appropriate.

About every six weeks or so, I buy a couple bags of chicken breasts and10-12 lbs. of ground meat (we use turkey). One bag at a time, I thaw and dice the chicken, and cook it in my big fryer skillet (little or no oil needed, it will kind of poach itself). That goes in freezer bags for soup, stews, quick chicken salad or any other chicken recipe I get inspired to make. A bag lasts our family of two 3-4 weeks usually. On another night, I cook the ground meat. I usually brown three pounds, make meatloaf with a couple pounds and either meatballs or burger patties with the rest. What I brown, I dump into a collander in the sink and run hot water over it to remove any bit of grease (then follow with a bit of dish detergent down the drain!) That goes in 1 qt. freezer bags for adding to spaghetti sauce or whatever.

I know I'm going to be making lots of nut rolls for the holidays so when I see bags of walnuts on sale, I'll buy several and grind them in my food processor as soon as I get home. It saves me from the hassle of the food processor when I'm ready to bake.

Speaking of the holidays, you gotta have gravy. Pretty soon, I'll buy some turkey parts at the store, bring them home, toss 'em in a pot and make stock for the gravy. It's just nice to get that out of the way.

Lastly, we make our stuffing ahead of time and freeze it. Nope, we don't use eggs in ours - just onions, celery, mushrooms and fully cooked sausage with the bread cubes. We stick it in freezer bags and flatten them. Put it in the fridge the night before Thanksgiving and into the bird it goes in the morning. Well, half of it goes in the bird; the other half goes into a buttered casserole dish and gets baked. Some of us like it in the bird - moister, some like it not, so we do it both ways. And then fight over the leftovers -mmmm!

So what are you waiting for? Get cooking! But first get over to Shannon's place at Rocks in My Dryer for a host of other great WFMW ideas.

9 comments:

Jennifer said...

This is all making me hungry. Stuffing. Yum.

It really is better to do it all at one time.

Barb said...

You're right. This really works. I've been doing this forever. I especially like to make two when I make casserole type dishes like lasagna. It a night off from cooking when I can just bring one out and thaw it and heat it up.

I like your idea of freezing stuffing and stock for the holidays. That I've not been doing so I'll be doing it this year. I love cooking holiday meals but I'm always exhausted after a whole day in the kitchen. This would definitely save me some steps on the holiday itself.

Katrina said...

You'd think that since I'm home so much I would do things like this. But I am so bad about it. I occasionally brown ground meat ahead of time, but that's as far as I get. I love your ideas, though and am going to make note of them. Who knows? Maybe this year will be the year I get better about cooking ahead!

Larae said...

Thanks for the tips! =)

Pieces said...

Those are great tips. I always need cooked chicken for things. I never thought about just cooking up a bunch of it at once.

Amy said...

Great ideas! I just joined a freezer cooking group and we exchange five meals each month. It has greatly cut down on our eating out. I just love freezer cooking!!

Jaime said...

YUMMY! I never thought of freezing stuffing. Good idea!

Stacy at Exceedingly Mundane said...

Oh wow, I like to cook, but this is above and beyond what I do. You rock. :)

Blessed Beyond Measure said...

Great ideas - I cook, but rarely batch cook - have to add that to the to do list. It would save so much time even to have the ground beef already browned.