If you’re anything like me, sometimes you are just plain fed up with feeding people. Meal planning, grocery shopping, chopping, peeling, roasting, boiling, eating, coercing the children into eating their vegetables, cleaning up the pots and pans only to do the exact same thing again tomorrow.
Getting a nourishing meal on the table at the end of the day is sometimes the last thing you want to worry about. On those days when you’re being pulled into a hundred directions at once, wouldn’t it be great to be able to just take something out of thin air and feed yourself and your family with it?
The closest thing you can come to having a meal simply appear on the table – aside from hiring a live in chef – is to start using your freezer in your meal prep.
Freezer meals can save you a ton of time in the kitchen. And freezer meals can be every bit as impressive as a meal made from freshly purchased ingredients. All you need is a bit of a plan.
Plan around what’s on sale
If you see that ground beef or chicken is on sale, buy a lot of it. Then when you get home, prep it then into a variety of meals to pop into the freezer. Doing the assembly for several meals after you get home from the grocery store (or the next morning) and popping them neatly in the freezer will make your life exponentially easier.
When you’re doing your weekly meal plan you’ll be able to identify which nights are going to be too busy to worry about cooking, so you’ll know which mornings you’ll need to pull one of your freezer meals out to thaw. That evening, you’ll simply have to cook it. No peeling, chopping or other prepping!
Here are 13 general food safety guidelines you’ll need to keep in mind when you’re freezing, thawing and reheating foods:
1. Always wash your hands before and after handling raw food.
2. Thaw your food in the fridge and never at room temperature. To quickly defrost your meal, put it in a water tight bag and place the bag in a bowl of water, changing the water every 30 minutes. Changing the water prohibits any bacterial growth.
3. Don’t use the microwave to thaw food. This may be a fast method of defrosting food but microwave oven power levels vary between different makes and models.
4. Always use the bottom shelf of your fridge to thaw raw meat, poultry and fish or seafood. This will prevent juices from dripping down onto other foods. If you can put the item on a plate, even better.
5. You can refreeze meat, poultry or fish after it’s been defrosted as long as it was defrosted safely.
6. Always keep raw meat, poultry and fish away from other foods.
7. Use separate cutting boards for raw meat, fish and poultry.
8. Store cooked foods in your fridge below 40 degrees F.
9. Foods that are stored in the fridge are safe for up to four days if stored below the recommended temperature. Foods containing seafood can be stored in the fridge up to two days.
10. Foods stored in the freezer are best used within two to four months, but can be stored longer. Please keep in mind that food quality will suffer greatly the longer the item is kept in the freezer.
11. All foods should be reheated to an internal temp of 165F.
12. Allow cooked foods to cool completely before putting them in the freezer.
13. Don’t put glass containers directly from the freezer into the oven.
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