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FREEZING FOOD - PART I

When I shared few pictures of meal boxes (for freezing) with my friends and in social media, many of them came up with lots of questions about freezing and planning related to what I did.  Freezing food is NOT what I do on regular basis, I only froze the cooked food only when I go for long vacation.  I am writing this post to share my experience with everyone on what I did.  Eating food that is not home cooked, is not healthy for my family especially 3 times a day for one and half months.  This post is NOT intended to discuss on advantages/disadvantages of freezing food also this is not a recipe post.

My friends and followers who follow my blog http://www.dishesfrommykitchen.com, Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/Dishesfrommykitchen/) and Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/dishesfrommykitchen/?hl=en)  knows how I cook fresh and healthy meals almost 3 times a day.  I was brought up with the ideology of cooking healthy and fresh meals.

When I did all these, I did not have an intention to do a blog post on this.  Also amidst planning and preparing the food and getting ready for trip made things very busy that I did not take enough pictures from the standpoint of a blog post.   So, I am sharing whatever pictures I shot using my phone.

I created this blog post by taking all your questions and have answered them to my best in this post.  If there is any question that I have not covered in the post, I have answered it separately at the bottom of the post.  If you still have questions, please do comment in my blog post.

I am by no means saying that you must do it the way I have shown here.  Please try to understand and follow what works for you.  Test in small batches before you do it for large portions.

Disclaimer: I am not an expert on freezing food or a nutritionist.  The outcome of freezing food is dependent on various factors like temperature of the refrigerator, temperature of the house, type of food etc.

Before going into the details of the process, I want to list the steps to prepare frozen food:  
1. Menu Planning
2. Shopping things for Menu
3. Cooking Strategy
      4. Packing and Freezing
      5. Consuming the Food


1)      Menu Planning:

Determine the timeframe: Number of Days
Determine the no of meals: Total of (breakfast/Lunch/Dinner)

Here is how I planned for a month.
Number of Breakfasts
Number of Lunches
Number of Dinners
30
30
30

I planned the meal combinations especially lunch to be healthy, and well balanced.
I decided to prepare each food item so that it could provide five full servings. 
Determining the number of varieties of food to do is based on Total number of days/consumption times.  30/5 gives 6 varieties of food to be prepared.


2)      Shopping things for Cooking:

Prepare the shopping list based on the things you need for cooking the above mentioned items (Grocery and vegetables).

Storage boxes/Freezer bags:
*** I used freezer boxes and heavy-duty freezer Ziploc bags.   The size of the freezer box should be selected in such a way that there is not a lot of empty space in the box after you fill the food in the box (choose shallow container that best fits for the meal). There could be 1 to 1.5-inch space on the top of the box above the filled food (when food freezes it expands and there needs to be space for expansion).  Choose freezer boxes labelled BPA free.

Why I did not use glass?
Many people had asked me on the usage of plastic containers and raved on the usage of plastic.  I am aware of the good and bad of plastic.  In-fact we don’t use plastics and non-stick at home.  My freezer does not have enough space to store 30 glass containers.  Moreover, I don’t have 30 glass containers that would fit for this purpose.  Since I don’t freeze on a regular basis, I went with non-glass freezer boxes which are BPA Free and used it for one-time use only.

Need a marker for labeling the boxes and Ziploc bags.

3)      Cooking Strategy:

Shopping for Vegetables: Do the vegetable shopping the day before you plan on cooking.  The idea is not to store the vegetables for long time before cooking.

Planning the cooking: Based on the time it takes for you to cook, breakdown the items into manageable groups.  Also identify the common things needed for cooking all your dishes and account for those to be done in one shot.  For example, ginger-garlic paste can be prepared in one shot.  I prepared ginger-garlic paste and chutneys before the other cooking. 

Ginger-Garlic-Chilli Paste



Tomato and Cilantro Chutney


I planned my cooking for 2 full days and broke the items accordingly. 



Timing the cooking:  Its best to do the cooking and freezing closer to the date you start your trip, so that it reduces additional days the food is going to be in the freezer.  

Stay tuned for Part II of my freezing series.



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WISHING YOU ALL HAPPY PONGAL 2017 ! GINGER CHUTNEY/PACHADI

" WISHING YOU ALL HAPPY PONGAL "


Chakkara Pongal/ Sweet Pongal, Rich creamy Paal(milk) Pongal with hint of salt is accompanied with Pongal Pulusu/ Kuzhumbu made with country vegetables is always regular and traditional menu on Pongal day.  This time I also made Ginger chutney/pachadi which is a spicy one and a great accompaniment for paal Pongal.  Since both the Pongal are rich and creamy, including more ginger aids in digestion as well.  The pairing recipe for paal pongal which I am sharing today is my husband's maternal grandmother way of making it on Pongal day.  She is such a wonderful person and a great cook as well.  You can also have this chutney for south Indian Delicacies like Idli, Dosa, ven Pongal etc.



Recipes for




Pongal Pulusu/Kuzhambu


GINGER CHUTNEY

Ingredients :

Coconut - 1/2 cup
Ginger - 1 1/2 inch piece
Roasted Gram dhal - 1 1/2 tbsp
Red chillies - 4 to 5
Tamarind pulp - 3/4 tbsp
Turmeric - 1/8 tsp
Salt as needed

For Tadka

Mustard - 1/4 tsp
Oil - 1/4 tsp
Curry leaves - few



Method :

1. Grind all the above ingredients to smooth paste with little water.
2. Heat the oil, add mustard seeds and curry leaves and add to chutney.
3. Enjoy with Pongal or any other South Indian Delicacies.

Note :

This chutney is little bit on spicier side, you can also reduce the chillies according to your spice level.

Some more pictures from today.....

Sweet/Chakkara Pongal 







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