Cooking For Few And Freezing Ideas...

Lounge By TexasSugar Updated 24 Apr 2008 , 2:59am by TexasSugar

TexasSugar Posted 18 Apr 2008 , 6:09pm
post #1 of 13

I live alone and have found it is hard to cook for just one or two people. I think part of this is because most recipes are created to serve 4 to 6 people. Also when I learned to cook from my mom I was cooking for 5 to 6 people and the 'recipes' she taught me were made for those amounts. A lot of those recipes called for a can of this and a can of that, so even if you do half the recipe you still end up with half a can of this and half a can of that sitting around and you either throw it out cause you forget you have it or you freeze it and forget you have it.

I learned with some of the things I grew up making that they froze well. A lot of casserole dishes can be made and frozen in the mini foil tins to be pulled out and baked later. I like this because I can still buy meats in bulk, which is cheaper and can still do the full recipes. Plus you still get a fresh baked taste from the food, easy prep work, and it doesn't feel like you are eating left overs. I cover the tins with foil and put them in a Ziploc bag to store in the fridge.

I recently wanted to make a chicken and spinach enchilada recipe I have and decided to freeze the extras rather than eating them over and over and over for several days. While I love using the foil tins to bake them in (cheap and no clean up) I was short of freezer room and since they don't take up the whole foil container, it felt like wasting already limited space in my freezer. So I got some freezer Ziploc bags in different sizes. I used the pint size for the sauce, then used a quart bag to place the two (serving size) enchiladas inside. I added the zip lock of sauce in the bag, as well as the grated cheese that goes on top.

I also wanted to try a spinach and mushroom manicotti, and did these in the freezer bags as well. The pasta and cheese in a quart bag with the sauce in a pint size tucked in. I did mine in single bags, but if you have a larger family you can pack the parts of them into different Ziploc bags then put all of the parts in a gallon size bag to keep them all together. You can write the directions on the Ziploc on how to put it together, bake time and temp on the Ziploc so it is handy when you are ready to cook. These stack flat in the freezer so they didn't take up a lot of room.

These worked out really great because I had small serving size of a premade meal that I could pull out and actually defrost some in the microwave before baking. When I would freeze the lasagna or chicken pot pies in the metal I would either have to remember to take them out the morning or night before I wanted to use them and put them in the fridge to thaw or it would take 1.5 to 2 hours to bake. With the bag storage I was able to put them on a plate or even a Pyrex dish and thaw some before baking to speed up the time.

I thought I would share this for two reason. There may be others out there like me in the same situation that enjoy cooking, but don't want to eat the same thing 3 or 4 days in a row. Or that may have days that they don't have a lot of time to prep dinner but don't want fast food. You can spend a Sat or Sun making several recipes and freezing them, or when you have time with certain meals to make extra and freeze them at that time. This also helps those moms out there that have busy schedules on some days running kids here and there. One thing about cooking and freezing it yourself is that it always taste better than pre made frozen dinners.

The other reason is that maybe other people will have more suggestions for me on ways to still shop to save money and not have as much left over waste. As I said above, it is cheaper to buy in bulk. I really hate buying a smaller package of ground meat when I can buy a larger one and use it for several recipes and save money in the long run.

Does anyone have...
...any tips on saving money while shopping in bulk?
...any tips or freezing ideas to help save prep/cook time when time is short?
...any recipes or foods that they know freeze well they want to share?
...any other ideas and suggestions on freezing food?

This weekend I am going to make some veggie soup to freeze so that is why this topic was on my mind and thought I'd see what you wonderful ideas you CCers had to share.

In the past I have made lasagna, chicken pot pies, meat loaf, mashed potato casserole, and chicken spaghetti in the mini metal tins. I have also done meatballs that I have frozen and tortilla soup.

12 replies
mkolmar Posted 20 Apr 2008 , 2:16am
post #2 of 13

I cook for a family of 6 or more, but do have some tips because prep. work can get crazy with some items. If you cut up carrots, brocholli, green beans and other veggies and freeze them it helps unless you buy the steam bags of veggies. I make home made spaghetti sauce and cool it some and then store it in Ziplock bags. I buy blueberries when they are in season and cheap put them single layer on a cookie sheets and pop in the freezer for 10 minutes. Then I put them in the Ziplock bag in the freezer.
Some CCers on the What's For Supper Thread cook off hamburger and other meats then freeze.
Hmmm, I don't usually freeze meals because of my families size so I can't help you there.

TexasSugar Posted 21 Apr 2008 , 6:44pm
post #3 of 13

Thank you for your reply. Atleast I got one of them.

I'll check out the thread you mentioned. I never read those and assumed that was another one of the game threads. I didn't know it had ideas in it.

Thanks!

mkolmar Posted 21 Apr 2008 , 8:19pm
post #4 of 13

The What's for supper thread is just a group of people that get around an imaginary dinning table and chat, tell what we had for supper and sometimes we swap recipes too. We just like reading how everyones day went and try to get new ideas for supper and quick fixes also.

dinas27 Posted 21 Apr 2008 , 10:11pm
post #5 of 13

I did that type of stuff a lot when I was in university... cooking for one is tough!

I often made meatballs... I bake mine in the oven about 25mins - less greasy and no cooking splatter from frying. Loosen on the cookie sheet then freeze, pop off the cookie sheet into bags.

I love love love ribs. Cook up a rack then freeze in sauce.

I love french onion soup but very hard to make in small quantities. I would make a batch then line a plastic mug (same size french onion soup pots) with a ziplock container pour in the soup and top with croutons and cheese after frozen). This works with any type of soup, stew or chili.

I girl I work with now makes this yummy veggie curry and freezes it, she also freezes the rice but I would prefer to make fresh.

Cook up a whole package of bacon and freeze. My MIL still does this because she hates her house smelling like bacon. icon_rolleyes.gif

Homemade pizza. we do this for my younger brother who is now in university playing basketball. He just doesnt always have the time to cook - homemade is way better and cheaper. Also love to make calzones.

Cinnamon buns - i remember doing this with my mom when I was very young. Freeze in aluminum pie plates.

Lasagna and moussaka both freeze well.

Taco beef - love tacos! Make up a big batch then freeze individual portions.

One of my roommates in university was in nutrition. As soon as she got home from the grocery store she would wash all her veggies and place them in tupperware. That way she could throw some in a bag for a snack or whip up a quick stir fry.

Food that I found is easy to make for one - quesadillas (I often froze my tortillas) and stirfrys.

Also - I am a big breakfast person anytime of the day. I always have frozen hashbrowns and eggs! I also make this 6 week bran muffin mix- keeps in the fridge for 6 weeks, I would make a half batch and bake some fresh muffins if I had a later class. You make the basic mix then each time can add something different for variety - carrots, apple, rasins, banana, nuts, chocolate chips, coconut

Hope this gives you some ideas, let me know if you want any recipes.

Erin

TexasSugar Posted 22 Apr 2008 , 5:10pm
post #6 of 13

Yes, Yes, Yes! This is the stuff I was looking for. And while alot of it sounds like common sense it always help to hear how everyone else does things. icon_smile.gif

I do have meatballs in the fridge and I forgot about the taco meat I put in there. I think I need to make me a list on the door to keep up with it. That's another problem, remembering what all is in there. icon_wink.gif

My mom had a package of bacon that was going out of date and had a new one, so I took the old one and baked it all then froze it. On the weekends when I have my nephew and we make breakfast we have been crumbling it up in to the scrambled eggs. I like it that way cause I find I eat less of it then I would just eating it in strips. icon_smile.gif

The french onion soup sounds good. icon_smile.gif Would you mind sharing the recipe for it and the muffins?

I've been buying alot of frozen veggies. I love the fresh ones, but when it comes to buying a head of cauliflower or a bag of frozen for cheaper that I can just open and use what I need out of it, well the frozen works well. I do like the frozen over canned for most things and you get more for a better price. Plus now there are small 2 portion ones you can buy that you throw in the microwave and have sauces mixed in. A good way to get a varity of veggies and tastes. I have thought about getting some of those ziplock steam bags, so I could make my own. It would cost more than the already frozen ones, but I could mix and match my own veggies and herbs.

Thanks so much for your information. Anyone else have any suggestions?

Ohara Posted 22 Apr 2008 , 8:36pm
post #7 of 13

Great ideas already posted!! I don't freeze taco meat, just cooked off ground beef in 1-2lb packages. Easy to pull out to make quick sloppy joes, spaghetti, soup, tacos... what ever you use ground beef for.

I put left over veggies from dinner in a freezer bag and keep it in the freezer. Each night when I have just a little bit of veggies left over in the bag they go. When it's time to make vegetable soup, all the veggies are waiting and no waste.

I also make my cookie dough, use a mini scooper, scoop up all the dough. Place each piece on a cookie sheet, not touching each other. Place in the freezer until firm. Then put the scoops of dough in a freezer bag and put in the freezer. When we want cookies, I can bake just a few. Always fresh hot cookies in 10-13 minutes.

Great thread. Thanks

TexasSugar Posted 23 Apr 2008 , 12:45am
post #8 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ohara

I put left over veggies from dinner in a freezer bag and keep it in the freezer. Each night when I have just a little bit of veggies left over in the bag they go. When it's time to make vegetable soup, all the veggies are waiting and no waste.




I'll have to remember this one. Though usually when there are a little bit of veggies left they go to the baby I baby sit the next day. icon_smile.gif

Thanks for sharing, great ideas!

indydebi Posted 23 Apr 2008 , 12:54am
post #9 of 13

I worked with an older lady who lived alone and one day I took over a small container of a new recipe I made. She put it in her freezer and mentioned that a couple of her friends would bring over one-serving leftovers .... too small for them to keep, but perfect size for a single person! I started doing that, too!

So maybe you could do a swap with some other singles .... i.e. you make a small meatloaf, I make my famous green beans with bacon & onion, someone else makes homemade biscuits .... we meet and swap some servings for our freezer. We have full meals in one-serving sizes.

Kinda like a cookie swap!

dinas27 Posted 23 Apr 2008 , 1:22am
post #10 of 13

I forgot to mention pot pies! I get the jumbo tart shells, works great if you roast a chicken. I almost always have pie crust made and in the freezer.

I never measure when making french onion soup...
about 4 cups raw onions (i like mine in rings)
cook slowly in a small amount of butter with salt so that they caramelize
sometimes I cheat and add a little brown sugar, add beef broth, a little wine if you like, splash of worsteshire (sp) sauce. Freeze in bags - I place them in plastic mugs to mold but muffin cups would probably also work, top with crutons or bagette and mozza (or gruyere cheese)

Six Week Bran Muffin Mix
4 c bran flakes
2 c all bran
2 c boiling water
Pour water over brans and let sit 10 min
1 c butter or marg
1 1/2 c sugar
1 1/2 c brown sugar
4 eggs
Cream and add eggs under throughly mixed. Add to bran mixture.
4 c buttermilk
1/2 c molasses
Mix in buttermilk and molasses
5 c flour (i usually use half whole wheat)
2 TBLS baking soda
1 TBLS baking powder
1 tsp salt
Sift all together then add wet ingredients
Store in fridge for up to six weeks in an airtight container. Take out a portion of batter and add extras (grated carrot, apples, raisins, berries, coconut, nuts, chocolate chips, bananas, etc) fill muffin cups and bake approx. 20 min

dinas27 Posted 23 Apr 2008 , 1:23am
post #11 of 13

double post!

cande Posted 23 Apr 2008 , 9:24pm
post #12 of 13

I have been looking at Amazon for recipe books for making large portions and freezing...but I haven't found anything great yet.

Iâve found that I just cook up a bunch of different things, place them in single serving sizes, vacuum seal them, label and freeze. I have an erasable whiteboard on the freezer listing whatâs in there and the quantity and use by date. I update it as I use things.

It has worked OK so far, but I need to get better organized and would like to start using seasonal ingredients only. It just sounds like a lot of work, and I haven't had time to plan it all out yet--but it's a goal.

I really like the cookbook "EatingWell Serves Two: 150 Healthy in a Hurry Suppers." I make them and freeze the second portion or rework it for the next days meal (make the leftovers into a sandwich or salad, etc depending on what it was to begin with.)

TexasSugar Posted 24 Apr 2008 , 2:59am
post #13 of 13

Hmm, I haven't heard of that book. I'll have to see if I can find it.

Dinas27, thank you for the recipes. I do do chicken pot pies. I make them in the mini foil pans and make the crust for them. When I make them to eat I always make extra. Doesn't take too much longer to make more of them than needed at the time. icon_smile.gif

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