Monday, September 1, 2014

Be Prepared ... Bake For Your Freezer

Since I started baking burger/sandwich rolls in advance I haven't needed to purchase them even once!

Several days a week I bake something more than just sandwich bread, and almost always on those days I am baking extra so I can store food away for another day.

Basic muffins are the most obvious; I bake 24 muffins weekly, choosing between banana, applesauce, pear, pumpkin pie, and sweet potato depending on what I have, with banana muffins being made most often. Muffins are great to grab if I need to pack a lunch or want to throw together a quick picnic. They also round out fresh fruit breakfasts and are eaten as a quick pre-breakfast if the guys are riding very early.

I also bake other items ahead.  Cinnamon rolls are wonderful to have fresh, but a family of four doesn't need to eat an entire pan of them in one morning, so I freeze the extras. I do the same with burger/sandwich buns, scones, and anything else leftover from a meal that won't be eaten that day.

Often, I will double a recipe on purpose as doing so increases my yield without increasing my time spent or the clean up involved. If I am making a pan of cornbread to have with beans I will double the recipe and bake the other half in muffin tins, then freeze them. I do this to make a future meal easier; I can put on beans, grab the corn muffins and a frozen vegetable, and serve a meal that took me almost no time to prepare on the day I serve it. I don't like to exercise this option very often, but you never know when an morning invitation will arrive to sit at the park and visit with a friend -- it helps to have a meal I can pull out with ease.

(I will hang my head and admit that in the past I might have accepted an invitation to spend time with a friend and then not cooked our meal, resulting in us getting takeout.)

When the cooler weather arrives I bake my sandwich bread in the oven and make more than one loaf at a time, thus saving me time per the week. A triple batch of dough will make three big loaves; if I bake sandwich bread twice a week I make six loaves. We'll really only eat four or five, so I end up with several extra over the month. This is really helpful when we have a trip planned; I bake as usual and still end up with bread to take with us. (If I don't want extras I can eliminate them by using some of the dough for cinnamon rolls or burger buns.)

Desserts are great to freeze extras of; my brownie recipe makes a 9x13 pan, and again, we don't want to eat a lot of sweets so we each have one and I cut and freeze the extras, individually wrapping them once they are frozen solid. I do the same if I bake cake or cookies. Then if we have a special occasion, plan a picnic, or have drop-in guests I can defrost a few desserts and we are good to go. One of my favorite desserts to bake and freeze is individual pumpkin or sweet potato pies!

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