Monday, January 2, 2012

A Little Prep Goes a Long Way

So, I have been trying to cook at home more over the last year and that meant trying to have everything on hand that I would need and easily accessible. (I'm the first to admit that I tend to be lazy...I like it all to be convenient and quick.) This led us to freezing items. The most common things we use that can be frozen for later use are chicken and ground beef. In order to make this as cost effective as possible, we buy in bulk. Each packet of chicken we buy has around 10 boneless, skinless breasts and the ground beef is bought in a 10-pound tube. Unfortunately, a 10-pound tube of beef just doesn't fit anywhere conveniently. It also isn't very convenient to measure out 1 or 2 pounds of meat each time you want to make something.

My solution is to vacuum seal it! Of course, thanks to my dear hubby, I do it a little differently than some might. I first make a few "Food Saver" bags that are the correct size. This took some figuring out when we first started sealing things. Then, I take the tube of beef and portion out 1-pound portions using my food scale. I then take a permanent marker and put the date of freezing and the weight on each package (post-vacuuming, of course).

 Here is what the meat looks like immediately after vacuum sealing. This doesn't freeze quickly. It also doesn't thaw quickly or evenly. Not good.

 Hubby's idea was to mash them flat and make little "meat wafers" to place in the freezer. Here I am making the ground beef flat using a rolling pin. Hubby likes to just use his hands.
 I make sure to get the corners and edges nice and even. Then, I toss them in the freezer.
In this final photo, I have the stack of ground beef packets in my refrigerator freezer. After they are frozen, you can stand them on edge side-by-side! When I need a pound of ground beef for Manwiches or burgers, I just pull out a packet and defrost it! Easy as 1-2-3!

I do usually have a little left over at the end because it's not usually exactly 10 pounds in each tube, so I just save the last packet and put whatever amount is left in that one. So, I'll have 9 packets of 1 pound each and 1 of 1 pound and "x" ounces. Sometimes it ends up being only 14 ounces in the last one. It just depends on each tube of ground beef.

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