Tips, Tips, and More Tips
Easy slow cooker cleanup: Spray the inside of your slow cooker with cooking spray before putting food in. You can also line the slow cooker with a disposable cooking bag.
Cool food in a hurry: Fill your sink with enough ice and water to come up the sides of your pot. Set your pot filled with hot food in the sink, and the ice bath will help food cool down quickly.
Easily remove air from a freezer bag: Ever have a hard time getting that last bit of air out of the freezer bag? Leave a small opening at the seal, and stick a small straw inside the bag. Suck out as much air as possible through the straw and quickly seal the bag.
Vacuum sealers: These are a great solution for packaging your frozen foods. If you use one, make sure before vacuum sealing any soft food that you flash freeze the food first. Otherwise your food will become mushy as the air is vacuumed out of the bag.
A mug of soup: Try this tip for making a mug-sized (and shaped!) portion of soup. Allow your soup to cool. Line your favorite mug with a freezer bag and spoon the soup into the bag. Put the mug with soup in the freezer and leave it there until the soup is frozen. Lift the freezer bag out of the mug and seal. Next time you want a mug of soup, take it out of the bag and it will fit perfectly in your favorite mug.
Warning about defrosting in the microwave: The microwave is a great way to quickly defrost food, but be careful about defrosting food while in the plastic bag; not all bags withstand defrosting in the microwave. They may melt or split along the sides as the food defrosts. For best results, transfer to a microwavable dish to defrost.
Casseroles from freezer to oven: One thing to love about freezer cooking is the time it saves in the kitchen. However, defrosting a casserole in the refrigerator usually takes about 24 hours. What about those nights you didn't plan ahead or forgot to defrost it first? If you need to go from the freezer directly to the oven, the general rule is to add 40 minutes–1 hour to the defrosted cooking time.
Labeling freezer bags: When labeling your freezer bags, use a permanent marker and write the name of the dish, the date, and reheating instructions on the bag before you add the food.
Freezing pasta: It is a good idea to undercook pasta before freezing. Because pasta absorbs liquids it is frozen with, it can become soggy when defrosted if it is fully cooked. If adding spaghetti to a soup, there is no need to cook it first; add dry spaghetti to the soup and the pasta will be perfect when you defrost and reheat the soup.
Double the sauce: Different cooks like different amounts of sauce with their food. If you find you enjoy more sauce with your meals, try doubling the sauce before freezing. You also have the option of adding more liquid as the meal is cooking.
How to organize a chest freezer: Try using plastic milk crates to organize your chest freezer. You can use one crate for beef meals, one for chicken meals, etc. The crates can easily be rearranged in your freezer and will save you from a lot of digging!
Neatly fill your freezer bags: Line a large coffee can with a gallon-sized freezer bag. Fold the top of the bag over the side of the can and you can easily fill the bag without making a mess.