Janice Krako/ October 5, 2015/ busy, family, freezer, healthy, kitchen organization, make ahead, pantry, recipe, storage, working parent/ 0 comments

Are you trying to do it all and over stressing?

Are you trying to be a super woman or superman? All of us lead busier lives than our parents ever did! So how does this affect our home life? Hectic! Feeling stressed out?

It is still possible to plan and cook healthy from scratch meals quickly but it just takes a little more thought, organization and planning ahead. I had the super woman complex for too many years, and quite honestly that is an understatement!  Just a tiny bit about me:  I have run multiple corporations — at the same time, while working on a variety of charity projects and also sat on board of directors (mostly children’s issues). I am the proud Mom of four marvelous children – two human and two furry.

Are you trying to be Wonder Woman or Superman?

Some ideas for planning organization and planning ahead

One of my favorite “kitchen tools” over the years had been a stand alone freezer which I no longer have now that I am living in NYC. The freezing ideas I’m sharing will still work. So many things can be made ahead and even frozen for quick weeknight meals.  I love love love entertaining friends and family!  Drop ins are very happily welcomed! Great food, family, friends sharing time together…does it get any better than that? Always being prepared for the unexpected will help ease the stress levels.

Packaging food correctly for freezing and rotating inventory is the key and will keep you way ahead for quick meal prep.  Healthy foods such as a delicious marinara, bolognese, soups, stocks, cookie dough, pastry for pie shells and bread freeze especially well.  Making dinner, then do a second mac and cheese, lasagne, double the soup and freeze half for another night.  I think you get the picture…planning ahead essential in life and business.

I don’t know about you, but anything I have trouble pronouncing or spelling I really don’t want my family to eat!  Chemicals are yuck!  Our bodies are natural and we should eat healthy non GMO foods to keep up that way. I went mostly organic a few years ago which I will explain in another article.  The difference has been quite amazing in my health and I even look younger now too.

Keep your pantry, fridge and freezer organized!  

Make a list of what you will need  or are running low on. Note: keep the reminder list somewhere where you can find it! Yes I have lost those lists too! When you have some time, reorganize your pantry shelves and keep like items in the same location so you know at a glance what you’ll need to buy again soon.

What do you like to eat? Any food allergies or health problems?  That is the starting point to keep in mind when stocking up!  I have gone organic fully in this past year….but more about that another day!

Stocking the Pantry

Some of my favorite pantry staples are dried pasta, dried beans and lentils, low sodium canned beans, and quality boxed chicken, vegetable and beef stock. I prefer the low salt organic broths for best flavor. Boxed stock will save on available freezer space and is a great time saver!  Once you open the box it will keep a couple of days in the fridge.  Don’t need the rest right away?  Pour into ice cube trays and freeze.  Once frozen, store in a labeled zip bag.  These stock cubes give a quick flavor boost to sauces that only need small amounts. I love home made stock but I’d rather use the space for a finished soup now that I have a just the freezer space in my fridge.

With just little changes in how you approach your cooking and your kitchen will create big benefits in health and save you money. Is there anyone that doesn’t like to save?  You pay for the convenience of pre shredded cheeses (compare the price per ounce) and they have a non-clumping agent on the shreds too,  and prepared dishes. Buy the block of cheese and shred it yourself. Shredding tip: A quick pop in the freezer for 10 minutes makes cheese easier to shred.

You don’t have to be a slave to take out and processed food, you can do this!

Freezing basics:

1-  Label the containers and packages!! No mystery foods please! Just using small white labels works well and are reasonably priced. These labels I love and they come off containers you reuse easily with washing.  I use them for more than just food storage too since they come off with no residue so easily.

2-  Soups or sauces – Use quart and pint containers keep 1/2″ space at the top for expansion as liquids freeze.

3-  Baked Breads, cakes, muffins – it’s best to freeze the same day you bake.  I use heavy plastic storage bags I purchase in bulk from King Arthur Flour*.   Removing excess air from the bag will help discourage freezer burn. Tip: Close the bag snuggly with a drinking straw inserted, then suck the air out the bag and seal tightly. I know that sounds odd but it works!  If you feel the need for a vacuum sealing system those are very nice too.

4- Unbaked bread dough, pizza dough, pastry dough – portion the dough to size you will need, wrap tightly eliminate the air before sealing the packaging. To use the frozen dough I usually defrost overnight in the refrigerator. The day you plan on using the dough let the pizza and bread dough come to room temperature and rise if needed per your recipe.  Pie dough can wait in the fridge until you need to use it.

5- Cookie dough – mix the dough, form long rolls, wrap tightly and freeze. If you only want to make just a few cookies at a time cut the rolls prior to freezing to make just as many cookie slices as you want.  Just pull out what you need, slice and bake per recipe when you want some fresh homemade cookies.  Great for drop in company or play dates.

6-  Chops, steaks, chicken – I love buying larger family sized meat packages especially on sale and breaking them down before freezing.   Wrap individually chops, steaks, chicken breasts, legs in small bags. Zipper sandwich bags are great for small wrapping but be sure to use heavy duty freezer bags to consolidate the individually wrapped pieces. Smaller packages also defrost quicker and you can pull out just the amount you need.

Tip: Defrost the meat on a plate, tray or bowl in the fridge to keep and defrosting juices from soiling the refrigerator. That has saved me from many clean ups!  Great idea to use with fresh meat too….remember low shelve in a bowl or tray with a lip to contain any dripping juices.

You may not have thought of freezing…

7-  Chopped, washed and dried fresh parsley, or peeled sliced fresh ginger root.
Squeeze fresh lemons or limes, freeze the juice in old fashioned ice cube trays.

Single Loaf Bags*

8-  Herb butters….just slice and use for fish, steaks or anything else you like herb butter on.

Keep coming back to Angel’s Food Paradise for plenty of recipes and tips to help simplify your meal prep, entertaining and life, better yet sign up for the newsletter and have it delivered right to you inbox. Any questions….just email me!

King Arthur Flour* has wonderful customer service and products.  Not a paid endorsement!

Double Loaf Bags*
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