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The Value Guru Chills Out

By Susannah Simone, September 2, 2009  |  Meet the Blogger  |  More Posts by Susannah Simone
Quick Hummus Pitas It's so hot I can barely think. Here in Austin it has been over 100°F every day for weeks on end. All I want to do is crawl into the freezer. So, that's what I'm going to do, virtually, anyway. Maybe just focusing on cool, cold, icy things will lower my body temperature. And in the meantime you can hopefully benefit from climbing in there with me to see why the freezer is my money-saving friend. Here's what's in my freezer right now: 6 Ice Trays Spiced Tea PunchHaving plenty of ice on hand makes it easy to create truly satisfying homemade versions of icy drinks that cost a lot more when you buy them. I make my own smoothies, I mix up cocktails-with or without alcohol, and sparkling fruit juice (mineral water with a little juice) is one of the most refreshing things on a hot afternoon…not to mention a tall glass of ice water. Sausage If you've read my blog a few times, you'll know I rely on sausage for budget meals. Whenever it's on sale I buy a few packages or pounds so I'll always have it on hand for pasta salad, beans, pizza, etc. Veggie Burgers A fast, affordable dinner solution, for sure, but I also take them for lunch. I simply take a veggie burger and a bun to work frozen and put them in the toaster oven together. Another container holds sliced pickle, onion, lettuce and tomato. I always keep mustard and hot sauce at work. Ground Beef, Bison and Turkey I buy ground meat when it's on sale or in a "value pack" and then divide it up into small packages at home before freezing. My method is to wrap tightly in plastic wrap, then in foil, then label each with the date, what it is and about how much it weighs. Hamburger Buns For the aforementioned veggie burgers, or bison, beef or turkey burgers. Whole Wheat Tortillas and Whole Wheat Pita They thaw quickly in the microwave, steamer or skillet and tacos, wrap sandwiches and mini pizzas are always a good way to use up leftovers. I also toast the pita to make pita chips for serving with hummus. Cooked Beans I use the slow cooker to make a big batch, then freeze portions in either empty glass jars or freezer bags. They will thaw in the fridge in a day or faster in the microwave. I'm sure I don't need to expound on the value benefits of beans. Miso SoupShrimp and Scallops IQF (individually quick frozen) shrimp and scallops are one of the best value meal options. You can take out however much you need and leave the rest right there for another meal. You don't need much of these to add a lot of flavor to a rice or pasta dish. You can get cooked shrimp like this, too, and just thaw them to put on a salad. Frozen Fruit Breakfast Blast For those smoothies! And again, they're IQF. I always heat some frozen fruit in a little honey or maple syrup to top waffles (also in my freezer) to get a serving of fruit. Sometimes I'll put a spoonful of yogurt on top. Walnuts & Cranberries I'm a sucker for an entrée salad with these (along with blue cheese crumbles), so I keep them in the freezer and never have to go to a restaurant to get my fix. I sometimes toss these into brown rice to make a simple pilaf. Other nuts are nice to have on hand in the freezer, too. Bacon Fat Bacon eaters know that a teaspoonful of bacon fat transforms a batch of greens into an entirely different type of deliciousness. Whenever I cook bacon, I let the pan cool completely so the fat thickens, then use a rubber spatula to scrape it into a bacon jar and store in the freezer. Other than homegrown pesto in small freezer bags, some IQF frozen veggies and occasional fruit pops (I have vowed to start making those myself, too), that's about it for my summer freezer. What's in yours that helps you in your quest for budget meals?




Peg Graham says ...
I freeze bananas, blueberries, strawberries for smoothies, purees and cobblers and craisins, pecans, almonds and choc. chips for baking. I freeze peas, carrots, potatoes together for soups, stews, etc...and sliced onions and peppers together and zucchihi and squash for sauces and stir fry dishes. I like to bake sweet breads, cookies and muffins in bulk and freeze them for unexpected company or just whenever. My youngest son has Autism and is ona GFC FSF diet, so it helps to have foods he can eat all ready. I like to make GFCF Chicken Nuggets, Fries and GFCF Pizza kits all ready stashed in the freezer.
09/02/2009 11:17:47 AM CDT
Linda says ...
I always have frozen tofu in the freezer. It can be used in a smoothie or once frozen stays together better when marinated and grilled.
09/02/2009 11:53:13 AM CDT
Scargosun says ...
I make 2 turkey meatloves at once, cool them and slice into individual servings. I wrap the slices in foil and then put them in a large freezer bag (which I can reuse each time I cook a batch) and label with a china marker. These slices are great for sandwiches, wraps, omlettes and regular old main courses for dinner. So easy and SO good. I usually cook about 4-6 before summer starts so I don't heat up my kitchen too much. During the fall and winter I'll just do them 2 at a time.
09/02/2009 12:04:41 PM CDT
Louise Ross says ...
I've just sauteed several bunches of red chard, cooled it, then packaged portions into small containers and frozen it. Veggies store well in the freezer if blanched first or gently sauteed. I've also had success freezing herbs like basil, which I whiz up with garlic, olive oil, and parsley thereby creating the base for pesto, tapenade, and salsa verde. I portion out the oily basil/parsley/garlic combo and freeze it in small containers for later use.
09/02/2009 4:15:45 PM CDT
Birgitta Höglund says ...
Hi. Thank's for sharing the idea about freezing bacon fat. In my freezer there's always a lot of berries. It's perfect to take out a small amount and eat for dessert with cream. I also have sourdoughbread in slices, just to take one out and put in the toaster. The taste is so good, and it's much more healthy than regular white toast. I also buy different kind of sausages, with high amount of meat. And some small jars of Sauce Bolognaise, for the days when I don't have time for real cooking. It's such a Fast Food, with some boiled Broccoli.
09/02/2009 4:54:00 PM CDT
Cheryl Miller says ...
I think I have tried to freeze just about everything. A whole avocado freezes well (I have a tree), but you have to defrost in the fridge or it will get watery. Seasonal fruit that I buy in quantity or have harvested from a friends tree gets frozen in individual portions. I buy frozen veggies when they are on sale for those weeks I don't get to the store for fresh rations. But the one thing you will always find in my freezer are soups. I love soups. I make big batches to have to take to work and feed my husband when I am not at home. Some of every batch goes into the freezer in individual portions. In the morning, if there is no leftovers to pack for lunch, I can quickly grab a soup from the freezer and it will be thawed and ready to heat by lunch!
09/02/2009 9:48:41 PM CDT
Kristina Hudson says ...
I have really gotten into making things for my freezer to save money and time. Just today I made a batch of freezer biscuits; flour, baking powder, salt, & buttermilk. I rolled them out, cut them and then froze them. Now all I have to do is bake them from frozen. Had I bought these in the store I would have spent about $4 for a dozen. I made 26 for maybe $2. Beyond that, let's see... I have 3 pounds of Whole Foods pizza dough- it's WAY better than store bought frozen pizzas and we get what we want on it instead of only what's in the freezer section. (That sounds like an advertisement huh? It's not- they are just the best fresh dough I've found!)I make and freeze breakfast burritos, pancakes, sausage patties (from bulk, then cooked & frozen), muffins, cookies, meatloaf, hamburgers, raw meat in marinade in a ziptop bag,and sometimes cakes. There are other things at other times but those are the current residents of my freezer. :.)
09/02/2009 10:18:34 PM CDT
Linda says ...
Finally, someone who is not afraid of cooking with bacon fat! Amen!
09/03/2009 12:42:06 AM CDT