KITCHEN & COOKING Department
I work part-time and have kids involved in various after school activities, so it’s kind of nice to be able to come home and quickly throw something together for dinner. Or, if I’m really thinking ahead, I can toss some stuff in the crock pot and it’ll be ready by the time we get home.
I purchase hamburger in the big economy six pound packages. I brown all of it at the same time (in one pound units) and then put the browned meat in small Ziploc freezer bags. Then, when we’re making something for dinner that requires browned hamburger, like tacos, that eliminates a whole step. It’s super easy to drop a bag of meat in spaghetti sauce, and I do the same with packages of Italian sausage, too. (we like italian sausage and ground beef in our spaghetti sauce).
Not only does this make future meal preparation quick, but it also makes it easier (and safer) if my kids want to make dinner (say if we have a date-nite) like (I know this goes counter to all that good cooks hold dear) Hamburger Helper. I don’t have to worry about them pouring off the grease, getting burned, etc.
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To make good beef stew in the crock pot, ideally, the meat should be browned first. I purchase a large inexpensive cut of beef, trim off the excess fat, cut it into small chunks, and then brown it along with garlic, seasonings, mushrooms, diced onion, then a bit of red wine to finish it off.
Put all in small Ziploc freezer bags, and pop in the freezer. This makes beef stew preparation so easy in the future because all that trimming and browning is time consuming!
–both submitted by Kimberly
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Tim says: If you are single or a couple, cooking-once-and-using-many-times is the only way to go. Invest in reusable, dishwasher-safe storage containers of every size. I prefer smaller, square or rectangular containers because they stack better and take up less space than circular ones. I also pre-seal each container by pushing a layer of plastic wrap into the food before lid placement and freezing. I wrap smaller portions of cooked food (like chili for hot dogs) separately in single-size servings, before placing them in the same storage container. I use torn-off pieces of 2-inch wide blue, hardware-store “painter’s tape” for labeling all food containers — “What I am” and “When I was put here“. The tape can be used several times and is easily removed. If I don’t label what I put my freezer, anthropologists centuries from now will have a heyday.
Did you know? “Heyday: ORIGIN late 16th century. (denoting good spirits or passion): from archaic heyday!, an exclamation of joy, surprise, etc.”
For years I thought the word was “hayday”, meaning the hay was ready to harvest — an important day culminating a lengthy process with reason to celebrate. A red-letter day.