Freezing your leftovers saves time and money -


Freezing your leftovers saves time and money

As the price of groceries goes up, more and more people are looking for ways to save on their weekly grocery bills. 

But how can you take those leftovers and make the most of them? We turned to Fran Scibelli from Fran's Filling Station restaurant in Charlotte, N. C. for the low-down on leftovers.

"I'm know as the Queen of Leftovers," Scibelli said.

To run a successful restaurant, you have to make sure you're not wasting food. The same concept holds true for families. 

Scibelli's freezer is well organized. She says there are three simple steps to preparing your food for the freezer.

The first is cooling your food. 

"If you have something hot, you can leave it on the counter and let it cool for say, 30 minutes to an hour, and then you want to pop it in the refrigerator uncovered," she explained. "You don't want to cover something in the refrigerator until it's completely cool. It will make it spoil if you cover and refrigerate things in there with no air. You get into that danger zone of temperature, which is 60 to 70 degrees."

It takes about three to four hours to get the food at refrigerator temperature, depending on the depth of your dish. Once it's cool, it is time to pack it for the freezer. 

"Air is the enemy of frozen food, that's how freezer burn happens, and air can diminish the quality of the food you are freezing and the taste.  So make sure you get as much air out as possible," says Scibelli.    

She doesn't use a fancy, expensive vacuum sealing machine, but rather what she calls a primitive method. She gets her leftovers in a freezer bag and sucks out as much air as she can with a straw. 

Finally, she says do yourself a favor: Make sure you label your food -- what it is and when you cooked it.  

"I will use my frozen leftovers for up to three months. You can wait a little longer, depending on what you're comfortable with," she said.

She likes the more expensive freezer bags, saying they are easier to work with. And you can always reuse them; just wash and dry them well.  

Also when you are putting leftovers in the freezer, give them room to freeze evenly. Don't stack several containers on top of each other until they are completely frozen. This gives the food inside a chance to freeze throughout at the same rate.

"I save the little outer rims of my brownies. This way if someone comes over unexpected, I can thaw them out, serve them in a nice silver cup and I have something yummy to share," she added.  "Some people will look at a small amount of food and say it's not enough to freeze, but it is. Those small amounts of several delicious dishes make for a great meal on a cold, rainy day when you don't want to go to the store." 

To learn more about Fran and her restaurant Fran's Filling station, click here.

Copyright 2012 America Now. All rights reserved.

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