Party in a moment: Make your own frozen starters
The beauty of cooking in large quantities
By Elaine Magee, MPH, RD
Weight loss clinic WebMD – Column of experts
Reviewed by Kathleen Zelman, MPH, RD / LD
The instinct to nest is not just for birds. At this time of the year, we also feel the need to prepare our "nests" for the long winter that awaits us. And a great way to do that is to cook large quantities of our favorite fall foods, and then freeze portions of them to reheat them easily on busy weekdays (or on quiet and lazy weekends).
Yes, it takes a little planning and a little preparation work (all that cut). But when you cook healthy foods in large quantities, you end up with a freezer full of your own homemade "light" frozen dishes. Whether it is motivated by convenience, economics or health, cooking in large quantities is a great habit.
These freeze better
Some dishes are more suitable than others for cooking in large quantities and freezing in individual portions.
Foods that lend themselves to freezing and overheating include:
Spaghetti Meat Sauce Albondigas Albondigas Soups Stews Stew
The safety of food can be a bit difficult when you cool large quantities of a dish, then freeze, only to thaw it weeks or days later.
What you want to avoid is to keep your food at the temperature where it is vulnerable to the growth of bacteria: the intermediate stage when it is not too hot or too cold. You must go through this stage as quickly as possible by cooling a plate, and omit it completely when defrosting food.
To achieve this:
Thaw your food in the refrigerator. Small items can be thawed overnight in the refrigerator; the biggest ones will take more time. To thaw food quickly, keep it under cool running water (in a tightly sealed bag) or use the defrost setting in your microwave. If you use the microwave, cook or heat the food shortly after it has thawed. This is because the microwave tends to start cooking some areas of food while thawing. Chill food as quickly as possible before placing it in the freezer. First, make sure it is in a shallow container; The larger surface area will disperse heat faster. Keeping the lid out of the container will also help to cool it down faster. Cool your hot food quickly by floating the container in a sink filled with ice water (or in a larger container filled with ice cubes or ice water). If you use ice water, change it frequently to keep it ice cold. Do not overpack your freezer. Cool air will circulate better this way. Check the freezer periodically and discard any old or unused food.
Preparation and storage advice
Here are some more tips to make sure your large batches recipes are safe, healthy and tasty:
Think in advance how you could use these freezer portions. If you are going to serve dinner for two, freeze your plate in a container that contains two servings so you can thaw just what you need. When preparing foods that are sensitive to overcooking, leave them slightly undercooked before freezing. When preparing soups, broths or stews, remove some of the fat from the top before freezing it. Or, freeze partially, then lift the top layer of grease and discard it. You can store some dishes, such as sauces, chili and stew, in freezer bags. Make sure to cool them first. To make sure your food freezes as quickly as possible, use containers with a capacity of no more than 1 quart. Leave as little air as possible in the container, no matter what type of package you use (including freezer bags). But leave some space on top when freezing liquids (such as soups or stews), as they will expand as they freeze. Wrap solid foods, such as meats and baked goods, as tightly as possible to keep the air out. Use a pen or permanent marker to date the bag or container, or label it using a tape that freezes well. It is better to eat your frozen dishes within two months. Place the foods you most recently prepared in the back of the freezer, so you can use the oldest ones first.
The Big Batch Exchange
Would not it be fun to make a big batch of your grandmother's famous spaghetti sauce, and then exchange a couple of servings to friends or neighbors for their specialty of fire-brigade chili or jambalaya chicken? That way, you'll end up with two or three different entries in a single cooking session, and you might discover some new and healthy dishes that your family will love.
Some things to keep in mind when sharing dishes:
Share with friends or neighbors who also agree to eat healthy. This will help ensure that the dishes they make fit into your meal plan with higher fiber content, less fat and fewer calories. If someone in your family has a medical condition or allergy That requires you to avoid certain foods, make sure your friends or neighbors know before they cook your specialty. Ask your friends if there are any ingredients they should avoid. Lower the salt and / or the ingredients that contain sodium. It is easy to add salt to taste, but it is impossible to remove it once it is added.
Recipes from large lots
Here are a couple of warm and toasted dishes that are ideal for preparing ahead and freezing. Just reheat them, then finish them with fresh dressings (make sure you do not freeze them too soon).
Fast Chicken Cassoulet
WebMD Weightloss Members of the clinic: Daily like 1 cup of hearty stew + 1/2 cup of vegetables without added fat
You can serve this as a stew, with rice or as a filling for a quesadilla (that's what I did for lunch the next day with the leftovers). To make the chicken part easier, buy a roast chicken in the supermarket and cut all the meat, discarding the skin. You will have exactly the amount of chicken needed in this recipe!
1 tablespoon of olive oil (or substitute canola oil)
1 pack of Hillshire Farm Turkey Polska Kielbasa (2/3 less fat), approximately 10 oz; cut into 1/4 inch slices
1 large onion, peeled and chopped.
2 cups baby carrots, chopped
4 chicken breasts grilled or roasted (boneless and skinless), cut into pieces
2 cups chicken broth with less sodium
1 teaspoon chopped or chopped garlic
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves (or 1 teaspoon dried thyme)
1 dry bay leaf
2 15-ounce cans of white beans (cannellini or others), rinsed and drained
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley (or 1 1/2 teaspoon parsley flakes)
2 cups of croutons to choose (optional)
Heat a large non-stick pan or saucepan over high heat and add onions, carrots and kielbasa slices. Cook, turning often, until the onion is golden brown and the sausage is lightly browned on both sides. Add the chicken, the broth, the garlic, the thyme, the bay leaf and the beans and stir to mix. Cover and carry a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer about 8 minutes to mix the flavors and heat the chicken and beans in everything. Place the spoon in shallow bowls (or freezer portions). Just before serving, sprinkle a little parsley on each serving along with 1/4 cup of croutons if desired.
Yield: 8 servings.
Per serving: 298 calories, 27.5 g of protein, 31.9 g of carbohydrates, 7 g of fat (2.2 g of saturated fat, monounsaturated fat and polyunsaturated fat are not available), 58 mg of cholesterol, 7 g of fiber, 415 mg of sodium. Calories from fat: 21%.
Awesome turkey and vegetarian chili
Members of the WebMD Weight Loss Clinic: Daily as 1 cup of broth / chili + 1/2 vegetable without added fat
This chili is great on its own, but the dressings make it incredible. So take a few minutes to garnish it with a garnish of grated cheese, green onions, sour cream without fat and diced avocado.
2 tablespoons of canola oil
2 1/2 pounds of turkey without fat (7% fat)
2 packages of taco seasonings (1 oz each)
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon chili flakes (optional)
2 cups chicken broth with less sodium
2 cups of mild sauce
4 cups preserves, mashed tomatoes.
7 ounces of chopped green chilies
1 large onion, finely chopped (about 1 1/4 cups)
2 green peppers, cut in cubes
5 medium courgettes, divided in two lengthwise and sliced (approximately 6 cups)
1 1/4 cups of jack cheese or shredded reduced fat Cheddar cheese
1 bunch of green onions, chopped (the white one and part of the green)
1 1/4 cups of fat-free sour cream
1 large avocado, peeled, chopped and chopped.
Heat the oil in a large non-stick pan over medium-high heat. Add the ground turkey and, while cooking, use a potato masher to chop it into small pieces. After about 4 minutes, add the taco seasoning mixture, cilantro, oregano and chili flakes (if desired). Stir and continue cooking until the turkey is well browned. Add the chicken stock, the sauce, the tomatoes, the green chilies, the onion, the pepper and the zucchini. Bring to a boil, then cover the pan and reduce the heat; Simmer for 10-15 minutes. Serve the chili in individual bowls (or frozen portions). Just before serving (and after heating, if it is frozen), cover each one with grated cheese, green onions, sour cream and avocado, as desired.
Yield: 10 servings.
Per serving: 245 calories, 17 g of protein, 20 g of carbohydrates, 10 g of fat (2.6 g of saturated fat, 4.2 g of monounsaturated fat, 3 g of polyunsaturated fat), 55 mg of cholesterol, 4 , 5 g of fiber, 990 mg of sodium. Calories from fat: 36%.
NOTE: Dressings add (per serving) 100 calories, 6 g of protein, 8 g of carbohydrates, 5.5 g of fat, 2 g of saturated fat, 2.6 g of monounsaturated fat, 0.5 g of polyunsaturated fat , 7 mg of cholesterol, 1 g of fiber, 99 mg of sodium.
Originally published on October 13, 2004.
Medically updated on May 3, 2018.
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