Monday, July 30, 2012

Ronda from ~ The Family Table, brings us "Food Saver Cooking"!

Food Saver Cooking

I have a confession. I am a food saver addict :). I know I am probably late on this bandwagon, but I am fully on board now and can’t wait to see how much time this little gadget will save me as I start school again at the end of August. 
I guess I should start the story at the beginning. As some of you may know, I was able to sneak away at the end of June with my husband for a week long vacation in France... without the kids. After fifteen years of marriage, we finally felt comfortable in leaving our three precious ones with dear friends and beloved babysitters. My husband had a business trip and I got to be his lucky companion. It was a trip I just couldn’t pass up!
That doesn’t mean that I was not a nervous wreck about leaving, quite the opposite. And, when I get nervous, I cook. Something about being in the kitchen calms me down. I know I have said it before, but all that chopping, mincing, baking, browning and roasting really gives me peace (along with praying of course!). So, since I had all this nervous cooking energy, I decided to cook all the meals for the entire time I was away and food saver everything! That way, even though I couldn’t be home to be with the kids at meal times, they had my cooking and for some reason that made me feel a little better. 
First I went through all of recipes that I thought would be freezer worthy. Second, I tried to pick some of their favorites. Third, I bought a bunch of the square foil pans that fit perfectly into the food saver bags along with all the groceries. 
Each normal casserole recipe fits into two square pans thus making not one but two meals (thank you Jen for that tip!). For some things, like the mac and cheese, I had enough for two casseroles plus three individual ramekin servings. To be economical in my food saver bags, I put a layer of saran wrap over the casserole then put the directions on a sticky note on top of the wrap. Then, the whole thing went into the freezer bag to sucked clean of air and off it went to the freezer to stack up neatly. 

(Amish breakfast casserole... Different containers to food saver)
In the notes to the babysitter, they knew when to pull the item for thawing then the directions were taped right on top for baking. For the casseroles that required crumb topping, I minced the crumb and put in snack size ziploc bags along with required butter and food savered that right there next to the directions. 

(Mac and cheese food saver style)

(Mini egg frittatas, Mac and cheese and chicken and broccoli casserole)
The night we returned, we enjoyed a casserole for dinner and I must say I was so happy that everything tasted just as fresh as if I had made it that day. Among the items I food saved were many, many casseroles for both breakfast and dinner. Three loaves of homemade sandwich bread, muffins that I had wrapped individually and put in pouches of four, chili, refried beans, and three more mixes of my homemade bread ready to be baked when we return from our family vacation which we are on now:).
I will say that using the foil pans may not be the most economical approach for regular use however since I needed many casseroles of the smaller size, it certainly made easier stacking and freezing. Also, clean up was much easier. 
I will be on the hunt for two square pans that I can line with saran wrap to do a par freeze before I pop it out of the pan and place into the freezer bag sans pan. To bake, I can remove saran and pop into the pan again and go from there. I’ll still get the same stackability and convenience yet it will be more economical. 
Freezer meals never held any appeal to me before now. I used to hate freezer cooking because everything had a flat taste that just didn’t seem like I was eating fresh food. The food saver has changed my opinion on this and will forever change the way I cook food from here on out. I love that I can cook and have healthy meals ready to go for the family on the nights I have my clinical rotations. I also love that the kids can have mini hot meals ready for school lunches at a moments notice.
Would love some of your food saving tips! Please join the conversation and let us know how you have used the food saver to save you time and money in meal preparation. 
Happy Cooking!
love, Ronda from ... The Family Table

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