A new year presents opportunity for a fresh beginning so today I offer ways to help you pack your bags and get ready for what lies ahead. I bet you're thinking 'What type of "bags" is she referring to?' No, no! I don't mean pack your mother-in-law and ship her out! Come on! How could you possibly be thinking that? Wow! You're mean! I am referring to resealable bags packed with food that are placed in the freezer. Jeez! Now, I am NOT judging BUT if you did pack grandma away in the freezer, this post may also help you...
Anyway, getting back to packing food, although again, NOT judging... This past weekend I took about an hour and packed up two weeks of chicken dinners for my family to be used as "Emergency Food." Here is how I did it:
Select the size of resealable (zip top) bag that is large enough for the portion of food you are preparing. (I made dinners for two people.)
Open each up by folding the zip top part back onto itself. (Do this to help keep the zip top part of the bag clean and the bag open.)
Fill each bag with a portion of oil (you like to use) and seasoning of your choice. The seasoning could be an herb salt, lemon-pepper blend, a barbecue sauce, a balsamic-based vinaigrette dressing, lemon juice, whatever you like. (I recommend a balsamic-based vinaigrette dressing because the sugar in the dressing will caramelize in the oven. ) I recommend you make several types of chicken and group the bags together.
Place the chicken portions in each bag. Seal the bag. Double bag the sealed bag and seal the outer bag. Label each bag with what it contains and how to cook it. Freeze the bag, lying flat, if space in your freezer will allow.
When you are ready to cook the chicken, select the type of chicken you want for dinner, place it, bag and all in a baking dish and allow it to defrost in the refrigerator while you slave away at work. When you get home, pull out the defrosted chicken, dump into the baking dish, cover the dish with foil and bake it at 350-375 degrees in a preheat oven for 30-40 minutes, depending on the size and type of the chicken. If you like, uncover the chicken just before it finishes cooking to allow the breasts to caramelize.
*NOTE: If you place a cold, glass dish in an oven that is NOT preheated, you will have a lot of broken glass and a huge mess to deal with so DO NOT place the dish in an oven that is not preheated to the appropriate temperature. EVER!
A proportion and cooking guide:
Allow about 1/2 Cup of sauce for two pieces of chicken and 1 Tablespoon of oil (at least) per piece of chicken. The salt and pepper amounts are up to you.
Other ideas of foods that freeze well and are great Emergency foods are Lasagna and Chicken Pot Pie. I always make at least a small additional portion of each to freeze. The Lasagna I do not bake before freezing but the Pot Pie I do.
My husband, Russell, was relieved I did not include "husbands" above but that is a good thought...
Avid home cook and passionate instructor