Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Why does Dinner time come when I'm too tired to cook?

Seriously. For us at least, it's the meal that has the most prep and work involved. I used to know someone who, without fail, would start to lament about how much chopping she had to do for dinner prep every day at about three in the afternoon. She posted her "woe is me" missives probably about three times a week on Facebook. It was kind of ridiculous.

With a little bit of planning and forethought, you can still make meals containing veggies that need to be chopped and not have to spend hours in the kitchen every day. For instance, I like to add finely chopped carrots to meals because they go with a lot and are an easy way to add nutrition to things like pasta sauce. Unfortunately, I don't do this very often because finely chopping carrots is a big pain in the butt.

Solution? Take your carrots (I bought a big three pound bag when I went grocery shopping), peel, and chop them.

ALL of them. That's a lot of carrots!

Next, spread them out on a baking sheet. Try to get them as close to a single layer as possible.

Now just pop them in the freezer!

The next day, scrape your carrots (with a spatula; they'll probably be slightly frozen to the metal sheet) into a large Ziploc bag.

Stick the bag back into the freezer and you're done!

Now whenever I want to make something that I think should have some finely chopped carrots in it all I have to do is go into the freezer and scoop some out of the bag. Because I freeze them in a single layer on a baking sheet before bagging them, they're nice and loose and scoopable instead of being just a giant lump. So far I've done this for onions and bell peppers too. I still need to get some celery in there and then I'll have mirepoix whenever I want with minimal work. Kick butt.
Last time I was at Dollar Tree I spotted these little collapsible crates so I grabbed a few. My friend Suzy saw my birthday wishlist post about wanting a freezer for the garage, and wouldn't you know? She had a small upright freezer in HER garage that she wasn't using! We gave it a good cleaning and it works great. I put my crates in there tonight and they fit perfectly! They're the exact width of a quart sized Ziploc bag. I freeze my homemade chicken stock in those (flat) and then put the bags in the crate standing upright. This is such an improvement over the stack of baggies sliding around in there I had previously.

You can see that my half sheet pans fit perfectly on the top shelf. I'm going to try to keep that one open so I can freeze stuff on them, as well as having a space to freeze items like broth flat in bags. The next shelf has one crate with chicken stock and other flat-frozen liquids and one with my bags of chopped veggies. I tucked the bags containing the extra tortillas I made on Monday standing vertically between the crates.

The third shelf has one crate with packages of meat standing vertically, and one crate with random packages that aren't able to be stacked flat. Finally, on the very bottom, there is a bag of frozen chicken breasts, a pork butt roast, a spare bag of ice (our icemaker is broken, *sniff*), and the bowl to my ice cream maker. In the door are boxes of extra butter, a bag of shrimp, and some bags of corn on the cob bought when corn was on sale super cheap.

We keep stuff like frozen fruits and veggies, ice cream, and other random meals/meal components in the freezer part of our refrigerator. I love how much more room we have now and how organized it all feels! I think I need to get a couple of those crates for the refrigerator/freezer too now. They're going to make it a snap to do my inventory sheets, you know, when I get around to it.

Organizing is ADDICTING.



Blogger Katy Cameron said...

Yes, it is a PITA sometimes having to chop veggies in the evening, however there are times after a long day in the office that it can be rather therapeutic, what with imagining what else one could be chopping ;o)

5:28 AM  
Blogger Samara Link said...

Awesome idea. Thanks for posting this. I'm taking notes. (And congrats on your freezer. It's lovely!)

12:05 PM  
Blogger Kat said...

umm you are a genius? Yeah, let s go with that one. I need to do with with a lot of veggies instead of buying them frozen cheaper?

8:52 AM  

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