- Try to think ahead about your meal preparation. One of the most difficult parts is remembering to take frozen meat out of the freezer and thaw it in time for meals!
- Make and freeze stocks and broths ahead of time. These concoctions are the basis of many dishes, adding flavor and nutrition. Freeze in convenient sizes so you don’t have to thaw more than you need at one time.
- Wash, peel, cut up, and package your fruits and veggies in containers or bags as soon as you can after shopping for them. Prepping such fresh produce right away before it has a chance to wilt, rot, or get forgotten not only saves money, but it also makes it much more likely that you and your family will use that nutritious food when preparing other dishes or want a quick, healthful snack.
- Have cans of chicken, tuna, and salmon on hand, as well as eggs and cheese—for emergencies as well as for a quick meal at the end of a long, busy day.
- Make marinades over the weekend or whenever you have some free time, and freeze them in zipper-lock storage bags. Place the frozen bags in the fridge overnight to thaw in time for an evening grill the next day.
- Freeze food in individual portions. It makes for easy, fast thawing and allows for a varied menu on the fly.
- Make batches of condiments and sauces such as tomato sauce, barbecue sauce, compound butter, garlic mayonnaise, and dressings so you have plenty on hand.
- Slow-cook a large beef roast, then slice and freeze it along with its pan juices for serving on busy nights.
- A Crock-Pot or a slow cooker is a wonderful timesaver and is great for making delicious soups, stews, braised meats, and cooked applesauce.
- One-pot meals, soups, and stews, frozen in single portions, are great timesavers and are very versatile. It’s easy to freeze single meals in Pyrex or ovenproof glass dishes for later thawing and heating at home or in a microwave oven at work or school.
- Prepare fresh-herb ice cubes for instant thawing and seasoning. Instead of using dried herbs, which often don’t have very good flavor or aroma, freeze fresh herbs such as basil, dill, parsley, rosemary, sage, savory, tarragon, and thyme. Chop the herbs finely, mix them into a paste using ⅓ cup of olive oil or cooled, melted butter to every 2 cups of herbs, and then freeze the resulting mixture in ice cube trays. To use, simply pop out however many cubes you need into a strainer and let the oil melt away, or just drop them still frozen into sauces or soups.
Serves 6 to 8 as a main dish
You can prepare this simple but delicious winter soup ahead of time and freeze it in individual portions in zipper-lock bags. When you’re ready to eat, just thaw and heat a bagful. Serve it with a green salad, an artisan bread, and good butter. It will thicken on the second day. You can add water to thin it out, or serve it as-is for a side dish.
¼ cup flavorful, extra-virgin olive oil (Greek is good)
¼ to ½ cup chopped Italian or curly leaf parsley
3 large cloves of garlic, minced
1 pound cannellini beans, washed, sorted, soaked, cooked, and drained
Salt and freshly ground white pepper
- Sauté the parsley and garlic in olive oil over medium heat for a few minutes.
- Add the cooked beans and water to cover. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for 6 minutes. Remove from the heat while you mash about a cup of the mixture with a fork, or put in a blender until it is the consistency of mashed potatoes.
- Return the mashed mixture to the pot and cook for 6 more minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve immediately.
— Recipe by Marianne Streich, from Bounty from the Box: The CSA Farm Cookbook