Oh, the pure agony. Most of us have been there if we practice freezer cooking. You are standing in the kitchen, you have sweat pouring down your face, you forget which towel you have used to wipe the sweat away, your stove top and oven are working overdrive, you have food, ingredients and a huge mess all over the counters and you aren’t even half through with your freezer cooking session. How do you possibly beat the heat of freezer cooking in Summer months?
It’s too late for me to tell you what I usually do, but for planning for next summer, I have some advice. Plan ahead.
And while I plan to give you some advice on planning ahead, I have some relief for those of you who didn’t realize how bad it would be, and what you can do for the rest of the summer to help aleviate the heat and the long sessions in the kitchen.
Planning Ahead – If you can, plan ahead. During the late Winter months, and all through the Spring – I am usually found making a bit more than I need each time. Rather than doubling or tripling a recipe, sometimes I go further than that. If you have a large spare freezer, this will work for you and don’t hesitate to fill it up. Of course I also recognize that not all of you have a spare freezer, so I have some tips for you and those of you who didn’t plan ahead.
No Storage Room – No Planning Ahead – All hope is not lost for you. There are several options. When you are preparing a nightly meal for your family, double the ingredients or if you are daring – triple them. Then store the second and third meal in the freezer for the following week. Use zip top baggies to store, because they allow for more room and can be stacked easily.
You might also consider meals made up of cold ingredients – cold pasta salads, cold sandwiches, raw veggies and my favorite tip in the summertime – make your meals in the crockpot. That little kitchen appliance doesn’t produce much heat which allows for the use of even multiple crockpots at the same time with no change of temperature.
We use three different crockpots during any one freezer cooking session. It allows me to prepare more meals at one time, and keeps the heat down. Check out garage sales, freecycle and other resources for used crockpots. Clean well and add to your collection. You can use as many crockpots as you have spare outlets in your kitchen. Just be careful not to blow a fuse. Also remember that if you own a toaster oven, it doesn’t produce as much heat as the conventional oven does. Depending on size, you might be able to use it to prepare a meal or two during a freezer cooking session without using up a lot of heat.
If you do decide to use your kitchen oven, try to find a couple of dishes that need to cook at the same temperature, for the same length of time. Put them all in together and add about 15-30 minutes of cook time, checking frequently after its standard cooking time to be sure you don’t overcook. If you precook these meals, they can be reheated in the microwave, even from a frozen state.
One last tip that helps me everytime – if you have extra fans in your house, no matter how small or how large, consider placing them in the kitchen while you are cooking. They will help tremendously and if placed correctly, might help push some of the hot air out of the kitchen.
If you have any tips to share on ways to beat the heat in the kitchen when you are doing a freezer cooking session in the summer, be sure to share.