{Nourish} Wrangle Your Freezer + One Pot Freezer Fried Rice

Fried rice
 
I tend to have a well stocked freezer which rocks until I forget about those foods that tend to lurk towards the back or are buried below the ingredients we use more often. That is why I try to commit to a monthly freezer inventory. When i keep track of the foods on hand it is less likely anything will go to waste because (reality check!) even frozen foods have a life-span and it may be shorter than you think!

Why do I love my freezer? Frozen fruits and vegetables are often less expensive than their fresh counterparts and some studies have shown that they can be more nutrient dense! I freeze raw nuts and seeds that I purchase in bulk as it prolongs the freshness and keeps the fats stable. I am a huge fan of batch cooking and planning ahead so the freezer comes in handy when I want to store pre-made items like chili, muffins and more. Grains like rice and quinoa store well in the freezer as well and allow for quick and easy meal planning at any time!
 
So…when is the last time you got intimate with your freezer and I am not talking about your weekly post-shopping load up! In the spirit of spring cleaning I challenge yourself to really get in touch with your freezer…and here is where start!
 
Grab a pen, notebook and your trash can (yes, you might have to throw something out!!!)  Start by unloading your entire freezer and arrange the items, in like categories, on your table. At this point you may want to take the opportunity to give your freezer a good ole’ scrub down and don’t skip your ice cube trays which are often filled and re-filled and rarely washed (ick!). 
 
Now that your freezer is sparkling and happy you can start digging into the food! 
  1. Throw away any obvious offenders like freezer burnt foods, unrecognizable and/or expired items.
  2. Arrange the remaining food placing the newer items at the front of the line (they will go back into the freezer first) and the foods that need to be consumed first will go in last so they are in the front (screaming….USE ME!!!)
  3. Make a list of the inventory with the oldest foods being listed first.
  4. Date and label each food item with a USE BY DATE.
  5. Reload in a neat/organized way keeping like items together!

Here is a freezer-life cheat sheet!

  • Chicken & turkey (uncooked): 6-9 months 
  • Chicken & Turkey (cooked): 3 months
  • Fruit: 6 months
  • Steaks (uncooked): 6-9 months
  • Fish: 3-6 months 
  • Shellfish 3-6 months
  • Ice cream- 2 months
  • Frozen vegetables: 1 month

Utilize for Freezer Inventory:

As you plan your meals for the week use your freezer inventory as a starting point. Look at your “USE NOW” list and base your recipes off of these items. This method provides inspiration as well as money savings as you get to use what you have thus reducing your overall food waste.

Here is a simple, one-pot meat I created a few weeks back based on my “USE ME” freezer inventory list! I was able to utilize frozen rice, vegetables and ground chicken to create this family-friendly meal!

One-Pot Freezer Fried Rice
Serves 4
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Ingredients
  1. 1 pound ground chicken (optional)
  2. 1 tbsp grated ginger (i keep peeled ginger in the freezer for anytime use)
  3. 2 cups frozen or fresh cooked brown rice
  4. 2 eggs
  5. 2 cups frozen mixed vegetables (peas, peppers, carrots & corn)
  6. 2 tablespoons Tamari sauce
  7. 1 tablespoon chili garlic sauce
  8. 1 tsp sesame oil
  9. 2 tbsp sesame seeds
  10. 1/2 cup sliced Scallion
Instructions
  1. In a wok or saute pan, heat the sesame oil. Add the chicken and ginger and saute for 5 minutes to brown the chicken, crumbling as it cooks.
  2. Add in frozen rice and vegetables and cook for 2-3 minutes to warm.
  3. Make a well in the middle of the pan. Whisk the eggs then pour them into the well. Cook the eggs, stirring constantly for 1-2 minutes. Once they start to set, stir them into the rice mixture.
  4. Add the chili sauce and tamari. Mix to combine.
  5. Garnish with sesame seeds and sliced scallions
Katie Cavuto http://katiecavuto.com/

 

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