live life, celebrate food, share both with those you love

Monday, 1 August 2011

How many chickens can I squeeze into my freezer?

Last night I got home, cold, hungry and broke.  My only option was to cook but what could I do in hurry? After having a quick look in the freezer I noticed I had some frozen chicken thighs, already cleaned and sliced up, perfect for a 15 minute curry and I knew we'd have enough left over for lunch the next day - two meals covered with half the effort!

When storing food, the best time saving tip I can give you is: store food in a way that is useful for you! Well, preparation is super important too... ok, so maybe that's two tips.

It's essential that you store items in a way that best suits your cooking style.  For example, I have two freezers... hey I'm European; I only know how to feed 20 people at a time!  Unlike me, you might only have a freezer the size of a shoebox, so buying in a large quantity might not be an option.  That's ok, but if you optimise the way you prepare and freeze your meats/meals, you'll maximise your space and save time.

Whenever I buy chicken fillets, I always buy in 2 or 3 kg lots - depending on the storage space left in my freezer and the cash in my purse.  But it's how I prepare and store the chicken that is a real time saver.

To store items in the freezer, I use ziplock bags or good quality, airtight plastic containers.  (Obviously containers are better for the environment, but sometimes I run out)

How can I say 'no' to that face?! :)
Firstly, if you've bought chicken breast fillets with the skin on, you'll need to pull it off... unless of course you're making something that requires you to leave the skin on.  I normally pull it off and give to my very grateful puppies - but not too often or they get fat and the Vet yells at me!

Next, separate the tenderloins - it's the little flappy bit underneath the breast.  Again these should just pull off.  Tenderloins are great in a stir fry, on a skewer or crumbed as quick mini-schnitzels.  They cook very quickly so I normally store them all together in one bag, but store them flat so they'll defrost quickly.

Now, slice up 2 of your chicken breasts into strips... now you have about 500gr of stir-fry strips or taco strips ready to go!

Freeze the rest of your breast fillets as singles or doubles depending on how you normally cook.  Singles fit perfectly in the snack size ziplock bags and you should be able to fit between 2-4 fillets in a sandwich sized bag.
Thigh fillets are great for curries, casseroles, bbqs - anything with a longer cooking time or intense heat.  Chop some fillets into nice, big chunks, great for a curry or casserole.

Lastly - and most importantly - grab a permanent marker and write the contents and date on the bags!!  Or put stickers on your containers.  I also include the approx weight just as a quick reference point.  Oh and don't forget, you can only freeze items for certain periods of time.  (Check out my Freezer Guide)

Can anyone make raw chicken look glamorous?!

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