Freezing Food (AKA: How I Eat Well on Bad Days)

One of the problems I’ve run into as the result of my love of cooking is that recipes rarely have a serving size of one. Even if said recipe is easily divisible, I find it’s often much harder to make one serving than multiple. This means I end up with lots of leftovers. How is this a problem you ask?

Well, I’m only one person, so if it’s a week that I’m cooking a lot, I end up with way more leftovers than I can eat before they go bad and I hate wasting food. I also get incredibly tired of eating the same thing after about three nights. I do occasionally invite my parents over for dinner, which helps with leftover control, but they like different types of food than I do so that’s not always an option. My solution to this absolutely horrible (she said sarcastically) problem? Freeze my leftovers.

Red Silicone Mini Loaf Pans

My favorite way to freeze leftovers is in silicone loaf pans (for soups) and ice cube trays (for sauces, dressings, gravies). I use these two which I purchased from Amazon a few years ago. I’ll ladle soup into the pans (which have been placed on cookie sheets for stability), pop them in the freezer overnight, and in the morning place the now frozen soup-cubes in a labeled and dated plastic freezer bags. I find the rectangular shape of the cubes allows me not only to fit more in a single bag (than say if I had used a muffin tin) but also use my freezer space more efficiently (rectangular items in rectangular spaces). When I’m ready to eat the frozen food I just pull a few cubes out of the bag and either place them in a bowl in the microwave or in a pan on the stove and reheat. Easy peasy, and has seriously cut down on my food waste and food boredom.

I also use freezing as a way to keep ingredients from going bad before I can use them up. I rarely have a recipe that calls for a whole can of tomato paste, so I’ll freeze the rest of an open can in ice cube trays. I try to make tablespoon or teaspoon size cubes so when I go to use it later I can pull out exactly how much the recipe calls for. Other things I’ve frozen this way include: fruit juice, herbs in oil, and chicken broth. Apparently wine can be frozen this way too, but I haven’t tried it.

Frozen cubes of carrot dressing and gravy
Carrot Dressing and Gravy (which I forgot to date, oops) cubes.

Another reason I freeze food is that it gives me a reserve to fall back on when I’m too sick or too tired to cook, which with CFS happens a lot more than I like. This is extra important for me, because my bad-health days are the days that I need to eat nourishing food. In addition to the recipes below I try to always have cooked chicken breast, rice, broccoli florets, and homemade chicken broth in my freezer. There are quite a few ways to combine these items (chicken and rice soup; chicken, broccoli, and rice bowls; etc.) and I find they’re fairly easy on my stomach, which is always appreciated. But this is just me, you may find you have different foods you want to keep in your freezer. The key is finding what types of meals make you feel good.

Now of course, not all meals will freeze and reheat well. Here are a few of my favorites. I usually try to plan meals so I make one of these a week, hold about 2 days worth of leftovers out, and freeze the rest. I’ll then make whatever other recipes I have planned and alternate between the leftovers so I don’t get bored.

Potato-Rosemary Soup – Williams-Sonoma
Caldo Zochitl – Budget Bytes
Taco Chicken Bowls – Budget Bytes (I just freeze the part made in the slow-cooker)
Slow Cooker Black-Eye Pea Soup – Sweet T Makes Three
Arroz Caldo for the Soul – Kitchen Confidante (If I have time I make the weekend version, but the week day version is good as well)

Do you freeze your leftovers? What are your favorite recipes to freeze?

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4 thoughts on “Freezing Food (AKA: How I Eat Well on Bad Days)

  1. There are some great ideas here. I too struggle with the same issues ( not with the CFS, I am really sorry to hear about that), and hate wasting food. I end up with jars and jars of stuff in the fridge, such as green peppercorns, tomato puree, etc, etc and all of them say ” eat within” a time frame which I can never reach. So your ideas about freezing those things are brilliant.
    Because I grow so much produce, I have 3 freezers and I make things like soup, ratatouille and vegetable purees and freeze them in portions for two so that I can eat it up in a couple of days. I cooked a meal for friends the other day and the left overs lasted for 5 days! So I know exactly where you are coming from when you say you get fed up eating the same food day after day!
    Karen

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Karen,

      I can’t exactly claim the idea of freezing ingredients as my own; I saw it somewhere (most likely Pinterest) a few years ago and decided to try it. I hope it works for you.

      Three freezers?! That sounds amazing. Maybe one day I’ll grow enough of my own food and cook enough to warrant that many freezers. Do you ever can your produce? It’s something I hope to learn how to do, mostly because I want to be able to have smaller jars of applesauce. The store-bought jars are just way too big for me to go through before they get moldy.

      Jen

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  2. Share JOYS! Project / Joy Journey 2 Health

    I absolutely freeze leftovers! On the other hand, I haven’t done it in ice cubes. What an interesting idea! This could work well for certain sauces, I imagine, but I don’t have any that come to mind for me just yet. I will keep this idea tucked away though for when I do! 🙂

    I have frozen leftovers such as homemade bone stocks and soups, especially, which I make in big batches. I usually do big batch cooking on Sunday afternoons when I do it. I have also froze excess kale and pumpkin from the garden, surplus u-pick berries (to keep and use for colder months).

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