Prepping the freezer

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ejagno

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As our temperatures soar between 90º to 100º+ I find myself holed up more than ever in the comfort of my air conditioned home. With Christmas in July winding down my thoughts turn to the grand cleaning plans, school starting, and crazy busy schedules to maintain for the rest of the year which will certainly mean less time inside. So, with that being said I ask myself "What can I do now to lessen the stress and time crunch that we all inevitably endure over the next few months while preparing for our wonderful holidays?"

Over the past few weeks I've made certain to cook extra when preparing our dinner so that I would have extra meals prepared for the freezer. These are already cooked so it's simply a matter of heat and eat. A few meals I simply assembled and froze such as Sheppard's pie, chicken pot pie and lasagna to name a few that will require the full time of baking but the hard part is basically done. This will be such a nice treat after a day of deep cleaning and organizing, decking the halls or even a day of holiday shopping.

I've also focused a lot of attention on "holiday" items that can be made now with a good freezer life of 6 months minimum. My favorite item to make ahead is holiday slice and bake cookies. Tonight I gathered all of my recipes and will hopefully get started on getting all of my cookie dough's made and rolled for the freezer.

And let's not forget those items that we can never have enough of during the holiday season such as butter. Start buying extra and storing it in the freezer. Cranberries can be frozen.

The internet is filled with cook ahead meals and treats. Post your favorite cook ahead, make ahead items.
 
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AuntJamelle

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Excellent points! Freezer cooking, whether a full meal, meal components, appetizers or holiday goodies is a life saver during the latter part of the year! I need to revisit my make ahead meals planning spreadsheet and finalize what I am going to do this year.

But it's never too soon to stock up on butter, you are right!!!

I typically start my freezer cooking around September. We host a holiday dinner party the first Saturday in December that is basically serving a ton of different appetizers and i use the freezer to make that possible. I do some meals as well and have learned over the years which ones work well out of the freezer and which don't, at least for us.

I also try to cook/shred/freeze chicken to jump start meals and cooked ground hamburger is good too.
 

Minta

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Speaking of butter I am heading to BJs tomorrow to pick up some so I may just pick up an extra package and do that for the next few months.

Both of my freezers are pretty full right now as I have 2 turkeys and 2 hams in my chest freezer .. I am thinking about cooking a Turkey in Sept and a ham in Oct. I can freeze a bag or 2 of sliced turkey and gravy for hot turkey sandwiches and a bag of chopped up turkey and veggies for a casserole. The ham bone will be perfect for a ham and bean soup. I think with the next batch of ground hamburger I get I will make large batches of taco meat and maybe a batch of sloppy joes and freeze in quart size bags. I really need to clean out the freezer in the kitchen. I have several resealable bags of veggies that I need to use up or combine.

Sometime soon I will be getting about 50 ears of corn and at least 30 ears will be blanched and cut off the ears so I can bag them up for the holiday dinners and to use for corn chowders over the fall and winter.

Right now with it being summer we always have ice cream in the freezer and its NEVER just one container ... LOL. Its much cheaper to stock up when the ice cream is on sale vs going to the ice cream stand. So once summer is over we wont being buying ice cream so that will give me more room.
 

luludou

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Right now we are emptying the freezer so I can start freezing again in September. I've noticed the time when I would need more freezer meals is mid-october - november.... always so busy!!! so I'll try to cook ahead for those months.
 
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jollykelly

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I made a ton of freezer meals last year, ok that is an exaggeration, but it felt like a ton to me, maybe 30 of them. I found that my picky eaters....DH and DD, did not like most of them and I ended up throwing a lot of food out, plus making them something else because clearly I am also a short order cook. I won't do that again...but what I will do is make ahead and freeze the components of the meals they like and a few complete meals. This should still make life easier for me. For the components I plan on a few batches of taco meat for tacos one night and a taco pie another night, tomato meat sauce for spaghetti, a batch of sloppy joes, shredded pork for BBQ's and fajitas and a few meals that winners....chicken parm, ham and green beans, lasagna, chicken cordon blue, and bacon wrapped chicken. I will start this in September and October.
 

ejagno

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Speaking of butter I am heading to BJs tomorrow to pick up some so I may just pick up an extra package and do that for the next few months.

Both of my freezers are pretty full right now as I have 2 turkeys and 2 hams in my chest freezer .. I am thinking about cooking a Turkey in Sept and a ham in Oct. I can freeze a bag or 2 of sliced turkey and gravy for hot turkey sandwiches and a bag of chopped up turkey and veggies for a casserole. The ham bone will be perfect for a ham and bean soup. I think with the next batch of ground hamburger I get I will make large batches of taco meat and maybe a batch of sloppy joes and freeze in quart size bags. I really need to clean out the freezer in the kitchen. I have several resealable bags of veggies that I need to use up or combine.

Sometime soon I will be getting about 50 ears of corn and at least 30 ears will be blanched and cut off the ears so I can bag them up for the holiday dinners and to use for corn chowders over the fall and winter.

Right now with it being summer we always have ice cream in the freezer and its NEVER just one container ... LOL. Its much cheaper to stock up when the ice cream is on sale vs going to the ice cream stand. So once summer is over we wont being buying ice cream so that will give me more room.
For those of you short on freezer space for items like butter, it's very easy to can in pint jars to store in the pantry. Right now I have approximately 12 pints canned and one always on the counter. Canned butter is so soft and smooth like spreadable butter you pay dearly for and great on toast. It does not require refrigeration since I can mine in such small containers and it's generally used up within a couple of weeks.
 
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Minta

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For those of you short on freezer space for items like butter, it's very easy to can in pint jars to store in the pantry. Right now I have approximately 12 pints canned and one always on the counter. Canned butter is so soft and smooth like spreadable butter you pay dearly for and great on toast. It does not require refrigeration since I can mine in such small containers and it's generally used up within a couple of weeks.
Thanks .. I will always make room for butter LOL. Since we pack lunch everyday for work its easy to pull something out of the freezer to make several lunches with :)

Usually by the end of summer most of my canning jars are used. I can a lot of jams, pie fillings and apple butter
 

luludou

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1st time I hear of canned butter. you just melt it and pour it in?
 
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MinnieCo

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I'm going to look that up..never heard of it either. huh?
 
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sweetpumkinpye

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Thanks Ellen,
My family is actually the opposite. We do not mind cooking in the winter but dislike it in the summer. I am just about to start filling my freezer with all the things we use in the Summer.
I like a stockpile of grilled, shredded chicken that I can use for nachos and enchiladas. I will buy fish that I can just quickly grill and serve with a salad.
I will stock up on Chicken tenders, pizza dough and the like so that when we get home from work in the summer we can prepare a quick healthy meal without heating up the house too much.
 
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FrostyShimmer

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For those of you short on freezer space for items like butter, it's very easy to can in pint jars to store in the pantry. Right now I have approximately 12 pints canned and one always on the counter. Canned butter is so soft and smooth like spreadable butter you pay dearly for and great on toast. It does not require refrigeration since I can mine in such small containers and it's generally used up within a couple of weeks.
Wow, I'd never heard of doing this. We bought 12 blocks of butter the other day, and it is taking up a lot of room in my freezer. Now I want to give this a try.

Around here butter goes on for $2.99 in the summer, but the same butter is usually $5 a block around Christmas time.
 
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sweetpumkinpye

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FS, always wise to stock up when you see things at a great price. The savings are incredible.
 
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Holiday_Mom

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I never heard of canned butter before. Thanks for sharing the idea and link.

Our air conditioner has been broken since May. I've been trying to stay out of the kitchen this summer as a result. Once things cool down, I hope to get some shredded/sliced/cubed chicken cooked and frozen. I'll also make up a few pounds of ground beef for tacos, sloppy joes, homemade "Hamburger Helper" type of meals. I like to cook a huge batch of mixed beans in the crock pot and then freeze it for add-ins to Mexican meals.

Once October hits, I'll go full force into the freeze ahead ideas since we host Thanksgiving and Christmas. Every little bit done ahead is very helpful.
 
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luludou

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I'm like you Holiday Mom.... I'll start freezing come October. chicken & beef for sure...so easy to add to recipes!
 
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tanya

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Because of our weather being opposite to yours... I do prep the freezer but mostly with meat to be taken out for BBQ's. I also have a few loaves of garlic bread done and frozen (Luke likes home made rather than the store bought ones) I also have garlic butter frozen ahead ready to use. It is permanently stocked with a supply of frozen meat for Merlin and Kelso- they go through huge amounts -being 52 and 40 kilos respectively (114 and 80 pounds). There is also a ready supply of frozen treats for the inevitable invasion of the kids that comes with summer. Full meals pre-prepped and frozen do not really work for us at this time of the year. It only takes a split second to decide to stay late at the beach then eat a light salad for dinner or to eat out.
 
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MinnieCo

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I'm working as an election judge again this year so I'll be gone a lot late October into November so I need to get this done sooner than later, so I have even more of a head start for the holidays. Here's a question and issue I"m having. Alot of the time I do marinades and ziploc my meat so it's ready to go when it's thawed out. Well this year we bought half a cow and have our own beef already frozen. I don't know what to do now that it's already frozen??? Anyone have suggestions? I'm having my hubby bring home a ton of ground beef to prep, but I guess I could drop a frozen piece of meat in the bag with the sauce..I just don't know.
 
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Minta

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Picked up 50 ears of fresh local corn yesterday and got about 30 ears blanched and cut off the cob. I have several bags of corn in the freezer for the holiday dinners and to make chowder with this winter. I am debating if I will blanch another dozen for the freezer.
 
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AuntJamelle

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MinneCo I would think that putting the frozen meat in a bag with the sauce would work as long as you thoroughly chill the marinades first and then stick those bags right back in the freezer not too many at one time so they can solidify quickly. The only other thing I can think of is to freeze the marinade separately in their own bags and take them out to thaw one day prior to taking the meat out to thaw then combining them in the fridge the day before you want to make it that way it gives the meat that time to thaw in to the yummy marinades that you make
 
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Holiday_Mom

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Here's a question and issue I"m having. Alot of the time I do marinades and ziploc my meat so it's ready to go when it's thawed out. Well this year we bought half a cow and have our own beef already frozen. I don't know what to do now that it's already frozen??? Anyone have suggestions? I'm having my hubby bring home a ton of ground beef to prep, but I guess I could drop a frozen piece of meat in the bag with the sauce..I just don't know.
Michelle, I tend to just put the meat straight into the freezer when I don't have the block of time to marinade it. I usually let the meat thaw. I tenderize it and then rub olive oil into the meat. After that I add the spices and rub it onto the meat.
 
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