I don't know what I did without my deep freeze (Thanks, Mom, for finally talking me into one!) In addition to storing my breast milk stash, I am able to stock up on sales at the grocery store: frozen veggies, cheese, meat, and I'm also able to do a lot of cooking ahead. Browning and freezing ground beef makes a huge mess and takes a chunk of time, but it's worth it to have packages of meat all ready to pull out and use. Quick and easy!
When I see a good deal on ground beef at the store, I buy a ten pound tube of it and get set for my assembly line. I buy between 3-5 pounds of ground turkey to add to the ground beef (I'm trying a slow integration of this healthier meat). I also add chopped onion for flavor and grated zucchini for a hint of extra veggies in our diet. Sometimes I also add garlic powder or other seasonings.
I start by browning the beef. It goes much quicker if I do it in one or two pound sets instead of all ten pounds at once (I've tried it both ways).
I also brown the turkey. The day I did this I only had 3 pounds of ground turkey.
After each pound or two is browned, it's time to rinse.
I start assembling the bags to freeze. A hefty pound of ground beef is roughly 2 1/3 cups, so I portion the beef and turkey accordingly in each bag. This day I did 1/3 cup of turkey and 2 scant cups of beef. Next I added about 1/3 cup of grated onions and zucchini (those had been mixed together).
My onions and zucchini got a little too grated this time, but it will do!
I let the bags of beef/turkey/onion/zucchini cool before sealing.
Many times, I like to brown a pound of beef, add the ground turkey, and add spaghetti sauce, too. I freeze this mixture and voila! Spaghetti or lasagna is already half prepared.
I also add taco seasoning to a browned pound. (yum, sodium). I can pull a bag of taco meat out of the freezer, warm it in a bowl, and we have nearly instant tacos.
The entire process makes a huge mess in my tiny kitchen. I have a routine down, and this day I made 13 prepared bags in two hours from start to clean up.
Ahhh... I love a clean kitchen. I freeze the bags flat, and then put about three quart freezer bags of meat into a gallon bag for extra freezer burn protection.
I will now use these ground beef/turkey/onion/zucchini pound packages for:
tator tot casserole
chicken gumbo burgers
I'm excited already about the ease of preparing these future meals!
I'm open to suggestions for variations on the plastic bags for freezing to be less wasteful. My plastic ware stash is not currently large enough to use Tupperware or similar containers for freezing. Ideas?