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My husband is not fond of freezer meals. He will put up with spaghetti sauce over fresh cooked noodles or lasagna but when I take it further than that he protests (mainly by refusing to take the leftovers in his lunch the next day).
So to save time in the kitchen I have had to get a bit more creative. One of the biggest ways I have discovered to save time in preparing meals without using freezer meals is to do as much preparation as I can ahead of time. Since we eat a lot of casseroles with meat I found the number one way I can prep ahead of time is to cook up markdown meat finds in large quantities and freeze them in bite size pieces that are perfect for casseroles, toppings for pizza, fillings for sandwich pockets, or to fry up and top salads with.
I do so by cooking up large quantities of meat at once. After the meat has cooled, I then cube it into bite size pieces and place it on cookie sheets.
I place the cookie sheets in the freezer for about 2 to 3 hours. Once the meat has frozen solid I then scoop it into ziplock bags and place it in the freezer until I need it.
I have done this with ham, chicken, turkey, pork and stew meat.
With hamburger I cook it up, adding in the spices needed for the meal it will become as it cooks (taco seasoning for tacos, Italian spices for spaghetti and pizza). Once the hamburger cools I scoop a meal size portion into a ziplock bag and freeze.
Having this cooked up meat available at a moment notice takes a lot of the prep time out of day to day cooking.
I can combine a casserole, or top a pizza, or get a batch of spaghetti sauce going in just a few minutes.
How about you? Do you have any tricks to speed up cooking preparation time?
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Good tips! I usually cook and divide hamburger to store in the freezer, but don’t season it so I can use it for whatever I want to in the future. 🙂