We buy our meat in bulk, so you'll always find some form of meat to turn into dinner in a hurry! :)
This year I spent $78 on 40lbs. of chicken breast and another $125 on the meat processing fees for a deer a friend hunted for us this fall. So for about $200 we have approximately a year's worth of meat stored and ready in the freezer. (At the rate we're going, it may be even longer then that). We have all varieties of choices. Just to give you an idea, we have the chicken, 2-3 kinds of sausages, roasts, steaks, and hamburger. Then, I also bought a ham on sale during the holiday season and prepared it for meals and for lunchmeat. I did the same with a turkey we got for free from my husband's employer the week of Thanksgiving.
Yes, I know. Forget everything anyone ever told you about it being impossible to freeze milk, it's NOT true. There are few tricks to it though. 1. You MUST empty some of the milk before you freeze it. If you do not, then your milk will explode and you'll get the lovely job of cleaning out your entire freezer, wasting your time and your money on the milk you'll need to replace. 2. You have to completely, seriously, totally and completely thaw your milk before drinking any of it. It does separate will freezing, which leads me to number 3. You have to shake it back up after it's thawed to mix it back together (which is why you need to have it all thawed to mix it properly). If you do it correctly, it's very convenient to have an extra gallon or two in the freezer. It's there to keep you from having those "emergency" trips to the store late at night for milk for breakfast that turns into a full on grocery shop and you leave with a cart full of groceries you didn't need to buy! See, this is about SAVING you money and a hassle! ;)
Again, it's there to keep you out of the store. If you have a few extra loafs of bread in the freezer you don't have to go to the store each week for bread. Bread should also be fully thawed before you eat any of it, but it'll thaw just fine and tastes great.
4. Quick meals
I have several meals that I've prepared and frozen in the freezer for a quick dinner fix after a day that just hasn't worked well for a full on cooked dinner. I keep a lot of soups, and dishes like lasagna and a couple of frozen pizzas to keep us from resorting to, "let's just go out to eat." I also have meals that can be fixed really quickly and don't require thawing like raviolis, meatballs, fish sticks/chicken nuggets, that sort of thing.
5. Shredded & String Cheese
Shredded is the one exception I make for freezing cheese that I plan to put in a meal. I know there are some cheeses that freeze well, but I'm not sure what they all are. I just keep a few varieties of cheese in the freezer that are shredded and ready to add to a meal. Since they are melted (usually) on a dish, the texture change isn't a factor. It keeps my prep and cooking time lower and also ensures I have things to turn into a meal on hand.
I also freeze string cheese because they are a great snack to have on hand, but we don't eat them quick enough (I buy the largest bag, it's the cheapest per unit) before they go bad. Since they come individually wrapped, I'll just thaw the number I need for the next few days and leave the rest in the freezer until we need them again.
6. Frozen veggies
If you read this post or this one, then you know all about me any my frozen veggies! ;) I like to stock up through the summer on all kinds of fresh, great produce to use throughout the winter months when produce prices are higher. It's so convenient and cost effective to have a freezer loaded with summer! ;) And, because I love you all so much, I want to share this amazing find with you too. It's the perfect resource for knowing what to freeze from this summer's produce. (I freeze some of the things they say not to bother with, but I'm okay with that, it's working for me!)
What To Freeze
|Food||Freeze||Don’t Freeze||Maybe Freeze||Notes|
|Apricots||X||Good taste, slight change in texture|
|Cantaloupe||X||Making melon balls can be work intensive|
|Honeydew||X||Making melon balls can be work intensive|
|Mangoes||X||Cube to use in smoothies; otherwise try using in salsa or preserving by drying|
|Peaches||X||Good taste, slight change in texture|
|Plums||X||Good taste, slight change in texture|
|Rhubarb||X||Plan to cook with it (like in pie)|
|Sour Cherries||X||Plan to cook with them (like in pie)|
|Oranges||X||Mushy, and citrus lasts long anyway|
|Grapefruit||X||Mushy, and citrus lasts long anyway|
|Lemons||X||Mushy, and citrus lasts long anyway|
|Limes||X||Mushy, and citrus lasts long anyway|
|Tomatoes||X||Hold off unless part of sauce or dish|
|Herbs||X||Try freezing into ice cubes!|
|Sugar Snap Peas||X|
|Asparagus||X||A bit soggy, but will taste good in soup|
|Broccoli||X||Good, but similar to store-bought|
|Cauliflower||X||Good, but similar to store-bought|
|Green Beans||X||Good, but similar to store-bought|
|Spinach||X||Good, but similar to store-bought|
|Beets||X||Not great for freezing; last long anyway|
|Cabbage||X||Soggy and useless; don’t bother|
|Carrots||X||Not great for freezing; last long anyway|
|Celery||X||Gets limp and gross; don’t bother|
|Cucumbers||X||Too weird and mushy; don’t bother|
|Eggplant||X||Cook into a dish and then freeze|
|Onions||X||Last long anyway, not worth it|
|Lettuce||X||Meant to be eaten fresh; don’t bother|
|Potatoes||X||Not great for freezing; last long anyway|
|Radishes||X||Not great for freezing; last long anyway|
|Summer Squash||X||Cook into a dish and then freeze|
|Zucchini||X||Cook into a dish and then freeze|
This handy chart came from LearnVest.
Yes, you can all thank me now (by leaving a totally awesome comment), because this chart has the potential to save you bunches of money this winter at the grocery store. You're SO welcome! :)
What's in your freezer?