Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Freezer Food

I want to stock my freezer.

I've been thinking about this for ages, but the farthest I've gotten is perhaps freezing a few loaves of homemade bread, or, in one ill-fated attempt, freezing homemade pizza dough. I want to have meals frozen and ready-to-serve, but not store-bought, fake-cheese pizzas and the like. I want to freeze things I've made - lasagna and chili and soup and casseroles.

I just can't ever get my act together enough to actually do it.

Well, my friends, that is about to change! I now have two (count 'em - TWO) days off of work a week. That means I have a whole other day to do all of the things I'm too tired to do after workdays. Like stock my freezer. (I'm wild and crazy, obviously.)

So, despite the fact that I've been cooking and baking since I was pint-sized and despite the fact that I went to culinary school, I've been compiling a little research on the stocked-freezer-plan. I turned to a few different food blogs, a Weight Watchers article and Martha (of course) to come up with my plan. And I think I'm set to get started!

Bread - Oh my, do I love homemade bread. I could sit and eat an entire crusty loaf on my own - especially if it's paired with some sharp cheese or garlic dipping oil. Anyway, I of course needed to have some bread in my freezer plan. I'm going to bake four medium loaves of Italian bread and a batch of all-purpose sandwich/burger rolls. I haven't had a lot of luck with freezing dough, so I'm going to freeze these breads after they're baked.

Entrees - The hardest part of planning my freezer food was trying not to go overboard with the calories. I am trying to follow a healthier diet now, after all, so I didn't want to get too carried away. On that note, I am going to make a spinach lasagna, tamale pie with lean turkey meat, and chicken tetrazzini. On the label, along with the name and date, I'm going to add portion size and Points Plus value.

Soup & Chili - You know that bread-love I was talking about? Well, slice me some bread with a bowl of hot soup and I can subsist on this through the entire fall and winter. Well okay... I'd need some chili, too. For the freezer, I'm planning pasta e fagioli, creamy tomato rice soup, white bean chicken chili, and my award-winning vegetarian chili. I'm getting hungry just thinking about it...

Cookies - I think it's always nice to have some fresh, hot-from-the-oven cookies if a friend is popping in for a visit. Of course, in busy day-to-day life, this isn't always a practical plan. But know what is? Making the cookie dough ahead of time, scooping it into portions and freezing the cookie dough balls. They can be baked straight from the freezer. So I'm going to whip up a batch of chocolate chip cookie dough and oatmeal raisin.

Other ideas for my freezer plan include some homemade marinara sauce, frozen meatballs and having a lot of fresh fruit for smoothies and juice. (This is another dream of mine - to be the type of person who makes smoothies and fresh juice. Sigh.) I think some type of pot pie would be great, too. And I wonder if a shepherd's pie would freeze well? Obviously, I am in super comfort food phase. I guess it's because fall is right around the corner.

Mission Stock the Freezer is set to begin this weekend. Before I get started, I just have to make sure my freezer is big enough to store all of these delicious foods!

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