Last week, the Tip of the Week and I were on vacation, so this week's post is inspired by my trip.
Here are my top 3 tips on packing your clothes for a trip:
As I was writing about freezer organization last week, I started thinking of some of the many ways you can use your freezer as a shortcut to help with meal preparation. Here are a few ideas.
1. A hot breakfast from your freezer: If your morning is rushed but you like a hot breakfast, create a grab-and-go breakfast area in your freezer. You can freeze oatmeal (with fruit, canned pumpkin, spices, whatever you like already added), breakfast sandwiches or burritos, and mini frittatas or quiches made in muffin tins. Reheat in the microwave for an instant hot breakfast.
2. If you’re a big smoothie drinker, make your own smoothie mixes (fruit, veggies, protein powder, etc.), put single-serve portions in freezer bags, and store them horizontally until they are frozen flat. Once frozen, you can store them vertically like file folders. In the morning, grab a bag, break the frozen food into chunks, pop the pieces in a blender, and add liquid for an instant smoothie.
3. Convenience lunch: My cousin invented this clever idea when she was a busy high school student. Take an entire loaf of bread, make pb&j (or other) sandwiches, wrap each sandwich in wax paper, put them back in the bread bag, and freeze. Pop a sandwich into your bag in the morning and it will be thawed and ready to eat by lunch. Bonus: you won’t need an ice pack to keep the rest of your lunch cool.
4. Dinner: Of course, you can make entire meals and freeze them or make double the amount of one meal and freeze half. But I don’t have a huge freezer to store lots of meals, so what I prefer to do is freeze foods so they are recipe-ready. I freeze meats in marinades so that when I thaw them they can go right into the oven or skillet. I blanche or pre-cook vegetables so they are ready for the next step such as mashing (mashed cauliflower = yum! Potatoes don’t freeze well.) or adding to a soup or casserole.
Your freezer should be set to 0°F.
I once had an argument (spirited discussion?) with someone who insisted that the freezer could be set at 32°F because that’s the temperature at which water freezes. I guess that would be fine if all you stored in your freezer was ice, but the freezing point of many things is lower than 32°F, which is why my ice pops (sugar water) were still liquid in the 32°F freezer.
Even if food freezes solid at a higher temperature, keeping your freezer at 0°F slows the food’s deterioration so much that it can keep for months or even a year (though taste might suffer).
Unlike the fridge, which requires good air circulation to maintain temperature, the freezer likes to be full. All those frozen-solid foods packed together help the freezer stay at temperature more efficiently.
To get the most out of your freezer, you’ll want to create zones for different types of things.