Saturday, October 29, 2011

Crock Pot and Meal Freezing Do's & Don'ts

I thought I would be a good idea before I started this crock pot/meal freezing adventure to get some guidelines.  Do I really know what can and cant be frozen?  When do you add pasta or rice?  Should you add pasta and rice?  What about cream cheese and coconut milk?  So I set out to get some answers.  Here is what I can up with after a massive search.

1- If you don't put enough food in the pot you can burn the meal.  Make sure you are using the right size for the amount of people you are cooking for and how much food you are cooking.

2- Browning meat and softening the veggies may take a bit more time, but adds to the flavor.

3- Either spray the pot with nonstick spray or use a crock pot bag.  Makes for easier clean up.

4- Cut root veggies into about 1" squares to insure they are done in the same amount of time as the meat.  Also layer the root veggies on the bottom with the meat on top since they are slower cooking.

5- Put all your solids in first.  Then add your liquid.

6- Check for food doneness so it doesn't overcook.

7- Add the tender veggies, pasta, rice, seafood, dairy and fresh herbs in the last 30-60 minutes.

8- If you are using the herbs for flavor only, put them in a cheesecloth bag for easy retrieval.

9- Pre cook ground meat and sausage to render out most of the fat.

10- Don't preheat until recipe states otherwise.

11- Don't add frozen veggies, it can mess with the temperature

12- Don't fill the pot more then 3/4 full because the contents will expand while cooking.

13- Keep the lid on.

14- Don't reheat in the crock pot, the food could spoil.

15- Don't freeze the following: raw potatoes (can turn black), sour cream, lettuce, mayo and fully cooked pasta (under cook pasta if you are going to freeze it).

16- Label.. Label.. Label

17- Trim the fat off the meat to be frozen

So I hope this helps me and you make better meals.  Now that I have some guidelines, I'm ready to start.

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