I was lucky enough to grow up with a mother who, contrary to most in the 80's, was into canning, making bulk purchases, and stocking the pantry. These are things I literally learned at her feet and I was able to take this knowledge with me when I left the nest and started my own home.
Not everyone was so lucky. There was a time when convenience food was all the rage, everyone wanted to get out of the kitchen and doing it yourself was frowned upon. They didn't realize what they were missing so now a whole new generation is lost in the kitchen and the arts of stocking up and bulk purchasing are foreign to them.
Times are changing though and we are relearning the benefits of buying in bulk and stocking the pantry. I've found through conversations that most at least understand the concept of bulk purchasing, but what stops them is they are unsure what to do with their purchases once they get them home.
That's why today I am going to share some tips on repackaging your freezer purchases to store them in a convenient way to make them easier to use later on.
Some of my favorite bulk purchases for the freezer include large 4-5 pound bags of frozen veggies, large bags of shredded cheeses, 10 pound packages of bacon or ground beef, and family sized packages of chicken breasts. I can usually find these at warehouse stores like Sam's Club or restaurant supply stores like GFS. Sometimes special buys can also be found at my local grocery store.
1. Critical step #1. When bringing your purchases home from the store don't wait too long to repackage them. I usually shop one day and repackage the next. Waiting too long could mean that all that food you just bought for your freezer is wasted.
2. Invest in a decent kitchen scale. I would be lost without mine. I use it for everything including repackaging food and weighing out dry goods when they are called for by weight in a recipe. I love this one from Amazon. The price is right and it does a great job.
3. Make space in the freezer before you get started. You don't want to be trying to clear shelf space with your hands covered in raw meat.
4. Give some thought to how you want your bulk food repackaged. Ziploc bags are convenient and so easy to use. I've even been able to find bags labeled BPA free at my local grocery store. If plastic isn't your thing, what would be your choice? Foil trays? Glass jars? Decide now before you get started.
5. Decide how much you are going to want in each package before you start so you can get the right size containers. If you are unsure what a good package size may be, think back to how you normally buy your groceries. Do you buy shredded cheese in 8 oz. bags? Burger in 1 pound packages? Frozen veggies in 16 oz. bags? These are great places to start. You can repackage your bulk purchases into sizes that resemble what you are used to. Once you've done this a few times you will get a feel for how your family eats and can readjust package sizes if you find there is always some left or you need more.
I've found that 8 oz of shredded cheese, 16 oz. of frozen veggies, 1 - 1 1/2 pounds of ground meat and 1 pound of bacon all fit very nicely in quart size freezer ziploc bags.
6. Find a bowl that fits nicely on top of your scale, but still allows you to see the read-out. Place your burger, veggies or other food into the bowl for weighing. Make to sure to zero out your scale so you aren't also counting the weight of the bowl. The bowl makes life so much easier when weighing things like frozen peas and corn.
7. Measuring cups makes great scoops.
8. Flatten those bags! Once you have weighed and bagged your food, squeeze out all the extra air before zipping closed. Flatten the bag. This is especially good for ground meats. They will stack better in the freezer and thaw faster when you are ready to use them.
9. Help your flat bags keep their shape while freezing. Stack your flattened bags onto a baking sheet and then place in the freezer overnight. Once frozen you can store these flat little packages anyway you like in your freezer.
10. Label!! Don't forget to label your bags with the date you packaged them. You don't want to grab that bag of chicken when company comes over and wonder how old it really is.
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I love cooking with real food, knitting with good yarn, sleeping in (when the kids let me), staying up late to finish that last chapter, DIY projects, and most of all enjoying life.
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