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Freeze meals to save money

By on October 27, 2008

photo by Athenamama
DEAR SARA: What supplies do I need to freeze meals? I would like to make a bunch of meals on the weekend and freeze them for the week. What type of containers are the best and cheapest for doing this? — M.C., Minnesota

DEAR M.C.: You can find food-grade plastic and quality storage containers at thrift stores and garage sales. It’s worth the investment to buy quality containers if you plan on freezing food often. They last many years, and some come with a lifetime warranty. Square- and rectangle-shaped containers are a good choice because they stack easily. Most often, I use gallon-size freezer bags for meals. I can fit more in the freezer by using bags over plastic containers. I use aluminum foil and freezer wrap and paper, too. Label your containers with the date and what is inside. Food sealers such as Foodsaver are popular among many of my readers. It’s on my wish list, but it isn’t a priority. I’m making do just fine with my freezer bags.

DEAR SARA: How to store fresh garlic? I’ve heard varying ideas about how to best store a whole head of garlic. Store in a cool, dry place is basic enough but a little vague. It stinks up the kitchen if I leave it on the counter or in a cupboard. But if I seal it in a baggie, it gets soft and eventually rots. — kmonokwe, Oklahoma

DEAR KMONOKWE: I just place it in a bowl and set it on my counter. I use garlic so quickly that I haven’t noticed any bad smell from it. I’ve seen ceramic and clay garlic keepers for less than $15. A small terra-cotta pot and saucer makes a cheap homemade version. Place the garlic on the saucer, invert the pot, and place it over your garlic. You can decorate your homemade garlic keeper and give it as a gift, too.

DEAR SARA: Are freezers worth the cost of electricity? Just wondering whether you think it’s worth it to invest in a freezer for stockpiling frozen foods/meats. Two issues: the cost of buying it and the cost of running it. What do you think? — Bethany, e-mail

DEAR BETHANY: My freezer costs very little in electricity — less than $50 per year — to run. I consider it to be one of the best purchases I’ve made. I can stock up during sales. For example, when turkeys go on sale, I could never fit three to five turkeys in my refrigerator’s freezer. I’ve bought a side of beef and a whole hog and had them butchered, and I’ve stocked up on bread, vegetables and even milk. It’s convenient, and saves me money. If you tend to eat out more than you cook at home, it might not be worth it for you. Also, if you’re prone to overspending and would pay full price to fill your freezer, it might be less of a hassle, but it won’t save you much money. They’re great for families, bulk cooking for freezer meals, people who garden or pick their own fresh produce or to store bulk food, such as rice and flour.

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