A Simple Way to Feed Your Freezer/do OAMC
Many methods exist for Once a Month Cooking, batch cooking, or feeding your freezer, all of which will make your life easier when it comes time to figure out what on earth you’re going to eat for dinner.
One of my favorite ways to fill my freezer with quick, delicious, nutritious meals is to pick a protein (or, more likely, have it chosen for me when I find a good sale), stock up on it and the other ingredients it will take to turn that protein into finished meals, and then cook and package those meals for the future.
Batch cooking with chicken
For instance, this weekend I roasted several chickens. I ate one chicken leg, packaged and froze the rest of the chicken legs to serve with rice or potatoes at a later date, and I cut all the rest of the meat off of the carcass. At this point I can do one of two things with all that meat. One, I can chop it and package it in standard recipe quantities (two cups seems to work in most recipes) and freeze it as is. This alone is a time saver. Another thing I can do is cook this meat into several of many recipes (tetrazzini, cacciatore, chicken a la king, chicken potpie filling, etc.) that call for cooked chicken, and package those in appropriate serving quantities for my freezer.
Another way to cook chicken for these sorts of recipes without heating your oven (and your entire kitchen, which can be an issue in the summertime) is to cut the raw chicken up into pieces that will fit into your crockpot, perhaps saving the legs or other choice bits for recipes that call for raw chicken, add some raw celery, onions, and perhaps carrots (which are purely for flavoring the chicken, and not for eating themselves) and a little water and/or chicken stock, and cooking the meat on low for 6 hours or so.
Make your own chicken stock the easy way
That’s not the only use for your crockpot when it comes to dealing with those chickens, either. Don’t throw that stripped carcass away, but use it to make stock for many of the recipes that call for cooked chicken also call for. Put all the chicken bones in the crockpot, add that celery and onions, a couple of cups of water and a splash of vinegar (which enriches the stock by helping to extract the goodness from the bones), and cook it all on low all day (8-10 hours) until the bones are crumbly. Strain it, chill it (it will be almost like jelly), if you like skim the fat off of it, and freeze it until you need it. This is much better and more economical than buying stock, and you can add seasoning and salt as you like instead of having to deal with the MSG and other additives in commercial stock. And it’s easy.
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