Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Works For Me Wednesday—Eating Well

With the New Year already running away from me, I’ve been thinking a lot about eating well. Luckily, that’s the topic for today’s WFMW.

I love my freezer. I love OAMC. But it’s not always complete entrees you’ll find in my freezer.

Sometimes I don’t have time to peel and chop an onion. Or maybe I just don’t want to cry and have potent onion-smelling hands. So I gather up my courage, buy the big bag of onions (3 or 5 or 10 pounds), and then peel and chop for about an hour. I freeze them in one cup baggies that are all placed in a big freezer bag. One cup of chopped onion is approximately one medium onion. I usually peel and chop all but one onion. Sometimes you want sliced onion on a burger or in a salad or omelet. Chopped frozen onions wouldn’t work for that. I got this great tip for freezing onions from my mom. She also taught me to . . .

chop and freeze bell peppers when they are on sale—usually in ¾ cup baggies.

When I cook brown rice, I make a full rice pot—about five cups. I reserve the amount I need for my current recipe and freeze the rest. Since brown rice is heartier than white, it doesn’t get too mushy. We use it with legumes like pintos or black beans and eat it with cheese. Or we put it in soups.

I soak, rinse, and cook a couple of crockpots worth of beans at a time and then freeze them in quart containers. We use them with rice and cheese, or in soups, chili, tacos, burritos or salads.

Beans and rice are very, very inexpensive and very versatile.

When overripe bananas are on sale for 25¢ a pound, I buy up as many bags as are decent looking—not bruised beyond recognition. I peel them and put them in baggies to freeze for milkshakes, banana nut bread, or banana muffins.

When strawberries are on sale in the summertime for 99¢ a quart, I buy as many as Danny will let me. I wash, core, and then flash freeze them. They’re great in smoothies and milkshakes and other desserts, or even just plain.

Grapes freeze well too. Rinse, remove stems and flash freeze. They make yummy little frozen treats in the summertime. NOTE: They are a choking hazard for young children.

Orange sections freeze good too. I would only freeze them though if they were in season and on sale. Then I would grind up the orange peel in the garbage disposal.

When your freezer is stocked with healthy options it is a lot easier to eat well.


becky said...

What wonderful tips! Thanks for sharing!

Leslie said...

I love to freeze veggies too, but I didn't know that rice froze that well. I'll have to give it a try. I sure wish we had an extra freezer though - I miss ours. There's only so much I can put in our tiny side by side freezer.

mistihollrah said...

Great tips. I do the onions and peppers for soups, etc to make cooking jobs easier. I too love my OAMC group! It's a huge lifesaver.

Thanks! Check out my Loaded Baked Potatoe Soup for my WFMW.

Susan said...

Some great ideas, Nikki! I love smoothies, but always seem to be out of something, so here I go to freeze my own stuff. I never thought of freezing bananas. Do they turn brown? Thanks for the tips!

Nikki said...

Nope. Bananas will not brown in the freezer. You can even freeze them in their peel. The peel will turn brown, but not the insides. You can refrigerate bananas too to make them last longer. In the refrigerator the banana peel will also turn brown, but not the insides.

sherry said...

These are really awesome tips! I need to hunker down and do the onion and pepper thing again! I got them on a great sale at the end of August and did that -- and it was SO convenient! I will have to do it again!

Rice and beans too :)

Great advice, thank you!


Pam said...

Please tell me what "flash freezing" is.


Nikki said...

Flash freezing refers to the freezing technique where you lay out something individually, usually on a cookie sheet or cooling rack, then once it is frozen, remove from sheet or rack and store in baggies or containers. It freezes things faster and safer than in a big clump or bag. And it makes it easier to remove them one at a time if you wish.

Things I most often flash freeze are: breakfast burritos, fruit & various berries, waffles, and French toast.

MaryRuth said...

Man, you are a wealth of knowledge! Thanks for all the great ideas!! I really want to by a freezer for our garage... maybe one of these days.

Do you know of any good OMAC groups? I noticed one of your commenters mentioned one. I'm in search of a group to belong to.

Thanks again for all your tips! You should write a book!

Christy said...

I like to do "investment cooking" too! Bananas are also put to good use when making banana pancakes. Yum!

What's an OAMC?? Is it a cooking group where you cook together or for each other? I've been toying with trying something like that.

Christy said...

Ahh, just explored your blog further. OAMC = Once A Month Cooking.

I like your blog! Good info.

Nikki said...

So far I have just done Once A Month Cooking by myself or taught others how. But I know people who cook with one or two friends or start group swaps in their neighborhood or with church members. They make rules that I'm sure can vary from group to group. But they are usually rules like:

** Make meals for a family of four and multiply times six dinners (when there are six members).

** Do not add pasta, rice, or potatoes to meal because it is always easier and less mushy to add later (in most cases) and very inexpensive.

** Some groups get together and decide in advance what each person will make so there is variety.

Some groups just share OAMC recipes-- recipes that have passed the "freezing well & still being palatable" test. I'd be interested in starting that type of group.

Mary Ruth- I've searched online before and been able to find OAMC groups located in certain areas. You could probably find one where you are by checking Google. Or ask at church or work or amongst friends if anyone locally is interested.

And investing in a separate freezer has been one of the most profitable investments we have ever made. We started with just a 5.0 cu ft. freezer from Wal*Mart that stored about 50 meals. I promise I will email you the info from my last OAMC class that I promised to you previously.

Leslie- the side-by-side freezer is the hardest to store in. But you can still get 30 entrees in there. Check out and see her side-by-side freezer pics. She also has tons and tons of fabulous kid-friendly, husband-friendly recipes. I learned a lot from her.

Christy- Thanks for the banana pancake tip. I checked out your WFMW and I love your pumpkin pancake tip. I'm definitely making them this weekend!

momanna98 said...

I would love to hear about some recipes for beans. I have been thinking about using them more, but have no clue what to do with them. I make chili and refried beans, and that's about it. I will look around your site and see if you have any recipes anywhere. I just was just looking at the WFMW entries.

Heather said...

Lots of great tips! You can also freeze the bananas with the peels on. When ready to use, cut one end off and squeeze the insiges out like toothpaste. Thanks for sharing!