May 25, 2011
SHORT CUT 5 – Prep Ahead Proteins
This post is a re-run from last summer, but it bears repeating – it’s perfect for the theme of ‘Short Cuts’. About once a month or so, I do a few prepping techniques to stock my freezer with proteins that I can use to make mealtime go a bit smoother. I went to Costco yesterday and stocked up on a few proteins. While the kids were napping, I went to work.
Here are the proteins that I purchased – two rotisserie chickens, chicken tenderloins (6 pounds), and 3 pounds of ground beef. ($38.41 total)
Here’s my start time:
And my end time ( I did field 3 phone calls during this time, so it could have been a bit quicker).
First I started by browning up all the hamburger in a big pan.
While the hamburger was browning up, I mixed up my favorite chicken marinade, substituting dried herbs for fresh because it’s going to be frozen anyway. Here’s a printable of this recipe – it is so good. Did you know you can put raw meat in a marinade and freeze it? When you are ready to use it, let it thaw in the refrigerator overnight and you have a meal ready to be cooked.
I split the 6 pounds of chicken tenderloins into 3 large zip top freezer bags.
I poured the marinade over the chicken and sealed the bags, squeezing out any air in the bag.
After the marinated chicken was done and in the freezer, I cut up the chicken from the rotisserie chickens and put it into zip top bags – I saved out about a cup for our chicken salad tonight.
By this time, the ground beef was done and cooled slightly, I added salt and pepper to taste and portioned it into three freezer containers.
So in a little over an hour, here’s what I prepped for the freezer:
3 bags of marinated chicken = 6 meals
4 bags of rotisserie chicken = 4 + meals
3 pounds of browned beef = 6 meals
3 pounds of browned beef = 6 meals
- marinated chicken for eating plain as grilled chicken or in chicken fajitas
- rotisserie chicken for quesadillas, tacos, salads
- browned beef for pasta sauces, tacos, taco salads
So about an hour in the kitchen and at least 16 meal starters ($2.40 a meal for 4 people).
What’s your favorite prep-ahead freezer food?
What kind of herbs do you use in your marinade? And how much dried herbs can you substitute?
Handy Man, Crafty Woman Says
Great plan, you’re going to be saving yourself so much time later!
Great idea! I need to get better at this. Sometimes I do prep extra ground beef when I’m making some, but I could save so much more time if I made it a habit!
Wow, I’m always amazed at how inexpensive American food is! When I was shopping at the grocery store today, chicken was $7.99/lb (even at Costco, each breast tends to cost $2.60-$3) and x-lean ground beef $4.99/lb. Rotisserie chickens are $11.99.
Great tips! I really like using marinade in the freezer.
Becky@Organizing Made Fun Says
This is amazingly simple and yet such a great reminder..my mom was a school teacher and every summer she would cook up meats like that, but enough to stock the freezer for the rest of the school year. That way she had something easy to grab after coming home from working all day! Thanks for the timely post – even if it was from last summer 🙂
Organizing Made Fun
What a great time saver. I read a report from one mom that she pre-cuts her chicken in cubes and cooks it. She uses it in salads and dishes like fajitas or tacos. A similar idea to yours. Planning ahead.
Jenny (The Housewife Project) Says
I never thought to marinade meat and then freeze. Great idea!
I read your posts on the Idea Room and really enjoyed them. It’s high time that I subscribed to your RSS feed directly. Thanks for the tips and the printables.
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Ellen - SkoMomma Says
I have the same question as jennymartin116. That recipe looks awesome.
Clean Mama Says
Hi Ellen and Jenny!
Fresh herbs I use a handful (sorry to be ambiguous, but I just go out to the garden, grab a handful, cut them up and toss in) of assorted herbs from the garden – basil, oregano, thyme, sage.
If I am using dried herbs, I use at least a tablespoon or 2 of whatever sounds good – Italian Herb blend, Parisien Herbs (with tarragon – really good with chicken), or sometimes I’ll use a Greek Herb blend. I love Penzeys spices – so I have lots of herb blends from them that I choose from.
Hope this helps!
such a great idea. i need to start doing more of this.. i buy in bulk and freeze but never precooked…
I brown ground beef in quantity, as well – particularly when I find it on special!(Sadly, where I live there is no COSCO within an hour’s drive.)I also chop up several pounds of onion, spread on a jelly roll pan, freeze, then put into a big bag in the freezer. By freezing on the sheet, the onions stay separated enough that you can just take out as many as you need.
Alia Dalwai Says
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Could you please stop by my blog too?
I buy my chicken breasts when they’re on sale really cheap (I drive 40 minutes to get them for $1.79/lb) and I buy like 18 pounds. I trim them all up really good, pound some into cutlets, some into strips, some into bite size pieces, and some as whole breasts. Almost everything get a marinade (some homemade, some bought On sale with coupons) and freeze them in baggies. I freeze them flat so they stack nicely. It takes me a couple of hours, but I literally only do it once every 2-3 months.