Seems like quarantine’s going to last a while, so stocking your freezer with already prepped ingredients can really help you out! It’ll make meal prep quicker, reduce the waste of produce and greatly reduce those quick trips to the store. Big wins right?!?
Sidenote: All of us at No Qualms Mom would like to acknowledge the many people behind the scenes working as hard as they can to keep the supply lines open! Remember to pass along some extra kindness and gratitude! Without them, our lives would be really challenging and stressful, so big props to all of you out there making it happen: growers, suppliers, truckers, and everyone at the grocery stores! We are so very grateful to you!~ the No Qualms Mom Team
We all started our Covid 19 quarantines at different times, so you may or may not have seen those empty grocery store shelves and limited stock on hand. Yet let’s face it, it’s stressful to not see what you are used to when you step inside the store!
These days our local stores are able to sustain most stock pretty well thank goodness! Plus it makes meal planning a challenge. One way that has helped ease us into our quarantine life is relying heavily on our freezer.
To help you, I’ve made a list of key ingredients to prep and freeze for later use, and here is what I came up with:
- Onions. We go through a lot on onions. Mostly, we use them to cook with rather than eating fresh, so this was an easy enough task to do (minus the onion tears!). First, grab 4-5 onions (we prefer white onions, as they are a little less sweet than yellow), peel them, and chop them up into half inch sized pieces. Try not to use onions that are soft, choose fresh firm ones as they will freeze the best. Once chopped, divide into meal sized portions (usually a cup or so), bag them up, label them and stick them in your freezer to use for sauces, soups, ground meat dishes, and casseroles. Doing this will not only save you time during meal prep, but may save you an unnecessary trip out.
- Shallots. I love shallots! These purple little jewels really liven up a dish, and are one of those ingredients I find myself out of quite frequently. Well, now that I’ve had good luck in freezing them, they always have a spot in my freezer! To freeze these bad boys, slice them into mid-sized slices going crosswise (not lengthwise) trying to keep the sliced chunks together like a coin, and grab an ice cube tray. Stuff the shallot coin slices into an ice cube tray, and gently fill the tray with water. Place the tray into the freezer to freeze the cubes. Once frozen, pop the frozen shallot ice cubes out, and store them in a sealed bag and return to the freezer so you can grab as needed. When you go to use them, thaw the ice cubes and promptly remove the shallots for use in rice dishes, stews, sauces, and dips.
- Ginger. Fresh ginger is one of those essential ingredients that you can’t wing it if you don’t have it. Since ginger has wonderful healing and medicinal properties, always having it on hand provides a wonderful security, and as luck would have it, it freezes beautifully. There are a couple of ways to freeze it I have found, and the easiest way is to get a couple large chunks of fresh ginger root, cut each chunk into three equal pieces, wrap each piece in plastic wrap and store them in a Ziploc bag in the freezer. When I need a knob, I grab a piece and let it thaw a couple minutes before peeling and chopping. Some people peel it before freezing, as it’s one less step to do later, which is also perfectly fine. Another option is to peel your ginger, grate it all up and place tablespoon sized portions onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Place the baking sheet in the freezer, freeze until solid, and store the portions sealed tightly in a Ziploc bag for easy pickings. This way is very handy if you know you will only be using grated ginger for your recipes.
- Garlic. So many dishes use garlic! Since garlic is easy and forgiving to freeze, freezing garlic is a wonderful method to use to always have garlic on hand. You can peel and freeze the cloves whole sealed in a bag, this is the fastest way, but, the way we have found the most useful is to press it first. To do this, press the cloves through a garlic press and place mounds of pressed garlic in 1 tablespoon portions onto a parchment lined baking sheet, much like you do with grated ginger. Place your tray in the freezer and freeze until frozen then store the portions in a sealed Ziploc bag. Voila! You have your garlic stash all ready to go.
- Avocados. For reals?! Yes! You can freeze avocados and have fresh guacamole for dayyys! Now, once frozen they aren’t meant for fresh eating, but, are excellent for making guacamole, spreads, and added to smoothies. To freeze your avocados, make sure they are at the prime of ripeness with no brown spots or stringiness when cut. Cut your avocados in half, remove the pit, and scoop out the middles into a food processor. For each avocado, add one tablespoon of fresh lime or lemon juice to prevent browning and puree until smooth. Transfer into ice cube trays (Good for use in smoothies. Once frozen, pop them out and store in a sealed bag) or, in portion sized Ziploc bags and freeze until ready to use.
I hope these tips help you decide which methods are helpful to use in your households. A little work now will save you time, trips, and later frustrations as we all continue to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Cook on, and be well, my friends!
Feature photo by New Africa Photography