Cooking Meat to Freeze for Later

I know that picture has nothing to do with meat or cooking, but it does show what freezing looks like :-)  That was our Mickey head antenna topper last year during the ice storm.

The forecast is for snow here.  I’m writing this post a few days early, so by the time you read this we could have several inches of snow.  My kids have their fingers crossed!

Now, onto cooking.  One of the questions I get asked often is how I cook meat for freezing.  I use a lot of chicken and I like to cook it up and keep it in the freezer for casseroles and soups.  It really speeds things up when I pull fully cooked chicken from the freezer.

Here’s how I do mine.  I usually cook boneless chicken breasts that come frozen in large bags.  I’m in the habit of buying those, so that’s what I use.  I put the chicken, still frozen in a casserole dish, cover it tightly with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 1 1/2 – 2 hours.  Sometimes I put a little water on the chicken before covering it with foil.

I do the same thing with chicken that has bones.  Usually, I buy that fresh and cook it right away instead of freezing it first.  You can use a whole chicken or just chicken pieces.

Once it’s cooked, pull it apart with a fork.  Cool it a bit and freeze it in ziplock bags in 2-3 cup quantities.

For ground meat, like hamburger or sausage, I brown it on the stove top.  Rinse it under very hot water to remove the grease.  Freeze in ziplock bags.  Sometimes I brown diced onion with it.

Here are a few great tutorials from around the blogosphere:

Tami’s Tips and Tricks – Cooking a lot of ground beef at once for the freezer

The Happy Housewife – Cooking a whole chicken in the crockpot

This is Reverb – Bacon – cooking, storing, eating and a fantastic salad recipe

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Comments

  1. I do this quite regularly too. If not I find that it takes much longer to get a meal on the table. Good advice and a great habit to get into.

  2. My favorite thing that I have learned here is your method of cooking chicken. I had tried poaching and baking it uncovered, but it came out dry or tough. I like to add water and season the chicken with salt and pepper. Thanks!!

  3. I find that freezing cooked chicken makes it come out tough, chewey and not very flavorable so I have stuck to ground meat only. Do you find this or am I doing it wrong??

    • Bobbie, I haven’t had a problem with it being tough or chewy. The flavor is better if you cook chicken with bones, but it works fine for boneless too. Probably because it always goes into a soup or casserole.

  4. I cook my chicken breasts in the crockpot, then shred and freeze. I usually don’t precook my ground beef because I like making meatloaf/balls sometimes, so I just separate it into 1 pound chunks and put them in individual freezer bags and flatten it out, for easy storing and quick thawing overnight in the fridge.

  5. I too love to cook a whole chicken in the crockpot all day long (just salt, pepper, garlic and any other seasonings you like on the chicken, then cover in water). Then debone and shred with a fork, like you said, and bag it up for the freezer in individual zippy bags. It is such a lifesaver. And, the chicken is so tender and moist. Never dry.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] then use those and you’re all set.   If not, bake up a bunch of chicken all at once.  (See Cooking Meat to Freeze for Later for tips on [...]

  2. [...] stashed away in your freezer, you’re only minutes away from having this dish oven-ready.  (See this post for tips on cooking and freezing chicken.)  Using left-over or instant mashed potatoes speeds things up even [...]

  3. [...] I’ve got just a couple of notes about this week’s menu.  First, you’ll need to have some cooked chicken on hand for the Chicken Shepherd’s Pie.  Considering buying and cooking more than you need so you’ll have some to stash away in the freezer.  (See Cooking Meat to Freeze for Later.) [...]

  4. [...] freezer stocked with cooked chicken and hamburger helps speed dinner to the [...]

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