1. Freeze cheese. Cheese will last 6 months in the freezer but if it is a block of cheese you have frozen, it will come out crumbly. I always buy a large bag of shredded cheese from Costco and divide it up into smaller zip top bags. This saves on time and money because there are less trips to the store and the cheese doesn’t get moldy. Sliced cheeses also defrost without crumbling.
2. Freeze meat. If meat is raw, always freeze it in a marinade. It can be a store bought marinade or even something as simple as salty water (brine) or soy sauce, baking soda and rice wine vinegar. This will give the meat more flavor and will tenderize it as well. Every time you defrost, food looses moisture. Marinades actually make the meat taste better then if you were to cook it fresh from the store. I stock my freezer with browned ground beef, shredded cooked turkey and chicken, cubed ham, etc… for quick easy meals you can put together in minutes.
3. Freshen a freezer meal with fresh herbs. You can buy “Living Herbs” at your grocery store and plant them in a pot in your kitchen. My favorites are fresh basil, green onion, rosemary and sage. These add so much flavor to the meal and make the presentation absolutely beautiful.
4. Freezing a whole orange, lime or lemon is a huge time saver. Again it saves you from another trip to the store. You can pull out a frozen orange, let it sit for 10 minutes on your counter and zest it. Place it back in a zip top bag and freeze it for later. You can also just freeze the peel, but I find it easier to zest when it is whole. Also, if you decide not to plant your fresh herbs, you can freeze them. They will turn a dark brown, but still add so much flavor to the meal. One more tip: Freezing heavy cream in its carton will not alter the cream and allows you to stock up when they are on sale.
5. Organizing your freezer: Always label food with a permanent marker, it all turns the same color in the freezer. I label my food with the name and cooking time and temperature. Example: Lasagna 350 2 hours. I also bought myself a few wire office desk shelves to organize the meats into one side of the freezer and soups and sauces and jam into the other side. Personally I don’t have a large deep freezer. I just lay my food flat to freeze it so it will stack like bricks and use it up within 3 -6 months. Remember that your freezer works best when it is 75% full.
For more information go to www.freezerdinner.com