This little advice will change your life – cook in advance and then reheat as needed! This is such a time AND money saver. After I cook meat, I bag it in 3 & 4 cup quantities, or one pound amounts if I can figure it, in quart-sized freezer bags and freeze or refrigerate based on when I will need it.
(the USDA recommends freezing cooked poultry for up to 4-5 months and refrigerating for up to 3 to 4 days)
• Bake them in casserole dishes with a little water or reduced sodium chicken broth
• Slow Cook in your crockpot – cook on with a little water or reduced sodium chicken broth on low for 6-8 hours or high for 3-4 hours
• Boil in a large stock pot half filled with water
• While making a recipe that requires chicken, cook double and save half
Note: I cook and then shred half/cube half. Cooking times vary, the internal temperature of a chicken breast should be about 170F and whole chickens, thighs, legs, and wings it should be about 180F.
GROUND BEEF / GROUND TURKEY
(the USDA recommends freezing cooked meat for up to 2-3 months and refrigerating for up to 3 to 4 days)
• Brown meat in a skillet until there is no more pink – drain fat. Typically I try to cook it with diced onion. Since most recipes that call for ground beef typically call for sauteed onion as well, I just do them together from the get-go.
• Boil in a large stock pot – when the water is boiling, add in salt as if you’re cooking pasta. Remember, like pasta, whatever you cook the meat in will be giving it flavor. When the salt has dissolved, break the ground beef up into small pieces and put it in the water. Let it cook, stirring occasionally, until there’s no visible pink. Remove from heat and drain.
• While making a recipe that requires browned beef or turkey , cook double and save half
• Make sure you write the quantity and date on the bag.
• Keep the kinds of meat separated in the freezer in plastic shopping bags. It’s just easier than rifling through the freezer when the time comes. And then you don’t lose any down in the abyss!
• Season lightly so that the meat can be used in a wide variety of recipes
• Do NOT refreeze thawed meats. If you thaw frozen meat, cook it in some form, then it can be refrozen.
• Freeze in smaller portions so the food cools faster and thaws faster for best quality
• It’s best to plan ahead for slow, safe thawing in the refrigerator