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Most people think of preparing foods before freezing when they use the phrase “freezer cooking”: this method allows a person to make foods in bulk and then consume smaller portions at later dates without having to duplicate the cooking effort.  My version of freezer cooking follows this rule, but also uses fresh produce that has been frozen for later cooking purposes (note that this does not mean procuring foods that have already been frozen, because many prepackaged frozen ingredients includes extra salt or sugar as a preservative).

My life is so busy these days, much as I’m sure many people’s lives are overly filled.  I froze much of my produce from last week because I knew I would not be able to get more produce for an extra week and I did not have time to cook before freezing.  In an effort to plan my meals out for this week, I just now pulled out some of my frozen ingredients and planned meals for the coming week (the trick is to keep each meal colorful which means it is full of nutrients, and to balance the carbs, sugars, salts, fats, and proteins):

* Some breakfasts will be FlaxPlus pumpkin granola with thawed nonfat yogurt and other breakfasts will be my own special pancakes made with cinnamon, oatmeal and honey (leftovers taste good when toasted, by the way)

* Black bean soup (previously made, just need to thaw a serving for lunch)

* Lemon grass potato soup (also previously made, just need to thaw a serving for lunch)

* Snacks will be pieces of smoked salmon (a good brain food/protein boost for the afternoons) and almonds

* Dinners will consist of pasta topped with my own vegetable sauce and fried yellow squash (my own spin on a fried green tomato recipe)

Below is a rough idea of how I made my pasta and fried yellow squash.  I don’t list quantities because I didn’t measure hardly anything.  I just eyeballed how much I might eat for the week against how much of each ingredient I had available.  When you’ve had enough practice, you will feel more comfortable in gauging your own quantities.

Shells & Sauce
* chopped onions (frozen)
* green beans (frozen)
* yellow beans (frozen)
* diced tomato (frozen)
* diced jalapeno pepper (frozen)
* sesame oil
* sea salt crushed with bay leaves
* diced yellow squash (fresh)
* mixed greens/spinach (fresh)

Cook pasta as you normally would. My pasta of choice right now is miniature shells.

Mix together your frozen ingredients along with your oil (mine happens to be sesame, but you can use whatever you have on hand). Thaw/cook while covered on medium heat. Gather your spices and dice the yellow squash/other fresh veggies. Add spices/fresh veggies when the initial ingredients no longer appear frozen. I added some of my coconut breading to thicken up the sauce, but you might choose flour or simply cook the sauce down to a thicker consistency (a.k.a. reduction method). Serve immediately. Store in individual serving sizes either in your refrigerator or freezer (even if you are serving a group, individual serving sizes give you a flexibility of when/how much to cook at once).

Fried Yellow Squash
* sliced yellow squash (fresh)
* coconut breading (I happened to already have some in the pantry: flour, coconut, sugar, yeast, soybean oil, rosemary extract, salt)
* berbere (if you don’t already know by now, this is my favorite and currently plentiful Ethiopian spice; you can use cayenne or other favorite red spice)
* corn meal
* thawed nonfat yogurt (milk would have been ideal, but this was my substitute from the freezer; watered down mayonnaise or sour cream could have also worked)
* sesame oil
* ketchup, sriracha or other favorite topping

Mix together breading with spices and corn meal in a bowl. Fill a second bowl with yogurt or other milk-based ingredient. Slice yellow squash (or other slice-able fresh veggie: remember that this is based on a fried green tomato recipe). Heat pan with oil in it. Dip veggie slices into milk bowl, then breading mixture bowl before gently dropping the coated veggie into your uncovered, heated pan. Fry on each side for 2-3 minutes until crisp. Drop a bit of ketchup, sriracha or other favorite topping for added flavor. Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator/freezer (without the topping), but taste best when served immediately.

Now that you know my freezer cooking menu for the week: what’s yours?  I would really like to know.

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