I am going to show you how to prepare meat for the freezer, saving you a lot of time and money. Keeping a well-stocked freezer will save you in a pinch and make dinnertime come together much easier. A delicious home-cooked meal that you don’t have to spend hours on is what we are all striving for. Giving you more time to just enjoy, whether it’s more time with family or just relaxing with a good book. My food prep ideas are guaranteed to help on any night.
Prepare Meat for the Freezer
Freezing meat correctly can be a huge game changer in terms of quality, freshness, and above all simplicity. Done correctly it can save you lots of time on those busy nights. I like to buy in bulk when the prices are right. For cuts of meat such as pork chops or steaks, I would remove them from the store wrapper and put the desired quantity in a freezer Ziploc bag. This cuts down on freezer burn and discoloration. Other meats do well pre-cooked. Read on to find out some of the ways I utilize this to make dinnertime a snap.
Ground Beef Food Prep
Think about what your future meals might look like and what you already have in the freezer. Then decide how you want to pre-cook your ground beef. Other suggestions would be hamburger patties, meatballs, or a couple of meatloaves. This time I decide to just cook it all up, and made three pans of lasagna. Check out my homemade lasagna recipe here.
Brown your ground beef in a skillet over medium-high heat until there is no pink color. Drain off the grease into a suitable container. I used a cut-off milk jug and a metal colander. You do not want to put that much grease down your sink drain even if you are using hot water to rinse. It will clog your pipes over time. I am including a photo (yes gross) but I wanted you to see why this step was so important.
Cooling And Weighing
Transfer all the ground beef to a large stainless steel bowl and let it cool down a little. Next, weigh up one-pound bags using a kitchen scale. Let them cool completely, push out any air, flatten, and seal shut. Chill them in the refrigerator before transferring them to the freezer. Freezer quart-size bags are perfect for this. One pound of cooked ground beef is a much bigger quantity than precooked because the fat is cooked off.
Store the cooked ground beef in the freezer and you’ll have an easy ingredient on hand. Use ground beef like this for tacos, soups, spaghetti, stuffed peppers, stroganoff, casseroles, and many other recipes.
Tacos in 5 minutes? Yes, please!
Pork Food Prep
Cooking a pork roast can and should take all day and it’s well worth it. Next time you are going to cook one, why not cook a large one and spend some time prepping meat for the freezer? The leftovers are so versatile and delicious. Check out my pulled pork street taco recipe for a delicious dinner idea. You can use a crock pot, instant-pot, or oven. Personally, I prefer the oven. Something about that “old school” way gives meat so much flavor and tenderness.
After the roast is shredded up by whatever method you choose (I use forks), I used my kitchen scale to weigh up about one-pound bags. Let them cool, flatten, push out any air, and freeze. Pulled Pork is great in stuffed peppers, tacos and fajitas, BBQ sandwiches, or leave as is for an easy tasty protein. It warms up in a flash and tastes like you’ve been cooking for hours.
Precooked pork sausage is also a wonderful meat to have on hand. Just cook it up, let it cool, and then portion it out into freezer bags. Use it to make breakfast burritos, or stuffing, and of course your lasagnas.
Bacon is also a great meat item to make ahead. Take a couple of packs and line them onto a cooking sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 20-30 minutes or until the crispness level you like has been reached. Blot with paper towels to remove excess grease then line onto clean cooking to flash freeze. Once frozen, place into a freezer bag or container and enjoy anytime.
Chicken Food Prep
Chicken is one of the most versatile meats out there. Buying larger quantities of chicken breasts can save you time and money. There are a few simple ways I like to store chicken. As mentioned earlier, taking the meat out of the original wrappings will keep it fresher and make it easier to use.
Take a quart-size freezer bag and put two chicken breasts in it (or however many you desire), press the air out, and freeze. Now, when you want to have baked chicken it is portioned out and easy to thaw.
Grilling chicken breasts ahead of time is also a great way to meal prep. I will grill up four at a time, let them rest for ten minutes, and then slice them up. Arrange sliced chicken on a plate and flash freeze for at least an hour. This allows you to store it without it all sticking together.
After about an hour you can store the slices in a freezer storage bag or container. Use in a variety of dishes such as chicken alfredo, and chicken tikka, or atop of bed of greens for a healthy salad. Thaws up quickly in the microwave or add it directly to whatever meal you are cooking on the stovetop.
Another way I like to prep chicken is to boil it in lightly salted water. Takes about 20-30 minutes to get up to 165 degrees. Take it out and let it cool slightly on a cutting board. Shred it up with two forks and portion it out into freezer bags. SAVE the liquid! What you have created is homemade chicken stock! Pour it through a fine mesh strainer to separate the fats. Store some in a mason jar in the fridge for soups, and gravy or replace the water in rice and pasta.
Shredded chicken is great to have on hand for soups, pot pies, chicken salads, and enchiladas. You can add it to pasta alfredo or whip up a tangy BBQ sauce and serve it on a homemade bun.
Ham Food Prep
Buying ham in bulk saves money. Be sure to select cuts that are nitrate free. Purchase any size ham hunk that you need and decide what sizes you want to store in the freezer. I suggest cutting it into one-inch cubes and slices to be used in a variety of dishes.
Taking a bit of time and putting in the effort to prep meat for the freezer will change the way you do meals. From the meal planning stage to the dinner prep, these techniques will undoubtedly make this process easier and faster. Having a well-balanced home-cooked meal for yourself or your family doesn’t have to be hard or time-consuming. Get some good recipes and some good food prep practices and you’ll have dinner on the table in no time. What are some ways you like to use ground beef or shredded chicken? Let me know in the comments below. Always looking for inspiration. Thanks for stopping by!
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