People are always asking me how I actually have time to cook my own food. I’ll admit that college life is busy from morning till night, and I’m sure things won’t be any different once I’m out in the real world and working. Still, most of what I eat comes from my own kitchen. Eating out is something I do only when I meet up with friends or have a special occasion… I’ve been known to cook even during times when doing so seems sort of insane and I should just go out to dinner instead.
There are two secrets to being able to do this. The first, is that it is something that I enjoy. Cooking is like a hobby and not a chore. Instead of spending time on Facebook or watching TV I’d rather be at the stove, “up to my elbows in pots and pans” as I recently put it to a friend. The second, and more important reason why I’m able to cook so much is because I freeze what I cook. If you’ve been wondering why I’m always cooking dishes that serve 4-6 people when there just one of me, it’s because I’m saving what I cook.
Think about it this way: it takes almost no extra effort to cook 6 servings of something than it does to cook one serving of something. I freeze what I make into single servings. For the rest of the week I just pull my frozen portions out of the freezer, heat them up and I’m good to go. In fact, my freezer currently has so much variety that I can eat a different dish every night of the week if I like.
Some things lend themselves better to this than others. The dishes that freeze the best are things like stews, soups and sauce (thaw the sauce and make the pasta fresh!). Other ingredients don’t adapt as well. For example, if you freeze potatoes, unless you thaw them very carefully (which I almost never do) they will disappear and thicken your sauce considerably.
Here’s how I make what I cook last:
First, make a yummy pot of food with multiple servings. Eat what you like for dinner and make sure to notice about how many serving spoonfuls you eat (for example, it might be four of five if it’s soup, less if sauce of stew)
Allow the pot to cool. About an hour after dinner, take out your Tupperware and add as many serving spoonfuls as it takes to make a single serving.
Close the Tupperware and place into the fridge. If you’re like me and don’t have a fancy fridge with a really good freezer, you don’t want to put the hot food right into the fridge because it wont be able to handle the temperature change.
Before you go to bed, take the Tupperware out of the fridge and put them into the freezer. If you’re really fancy you can label what the dish is and when it was made with a post it note. This helps because sometimes different dishes can look similar in a freezer.
In a few days (or a week or two) when you’re ready to eat take your Tupperware out. You can let it thaw in the fridge or if you’re like me, just pop it right into a pot and heat it up. If you have a friend coming over, just pull out another serving. Make rice/pasta/other side dish fresh and enjoy!