I’m willing to put in the work to put a fresh, home-cooked dinner on the table each night. But, I prefer to take a few time-efficient shortcuts in order to make that happen. These DIY frozen vegetable packs are a simple way to shave a few minutes of hands-on work off of your dinner prep each night.
Think about it: chop once. Wash one knife. Clean one cutting board. That’s what we do every single night anyway. So why not just get it all done once and shave a few minutes of cooking time from our weeknight meals?
I admit, I feel a little silly calling frozen vegetables “homemade” since we’re literally just freezing vegetables! But I promise, if you’re short on time on weeknights, it will make preparing dinner seem like less of a chore.
Here’s how to do it:
Wash and dry vegetables. Then chop, slice or dice according to your preference. This is about creating convenience, so I just chop most vegetables, since it’s typically what my recipes call for.
Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil. This step is super important; sometimes the vegetables will cling to the sheet for dear life, and you’ll have to scrape them off. Lining with foil allows you to gently lift and twist the foil, so those problem pieces pop off easily.
If like me, you’re working with a tiny apartment freezer, use all available containers! I used cake pans when I ran out of room for cookie sheets. They stack nicely, which works well in my small freezer.
Be sure to place the vegetables in a thin, even layer, so the pieces freeze individually, rather than in clumps (though the larger the pieces, the less of a problem this is. I didn’t fuss too much about this with the carrots and the celery, but it’s more important for the onions and peppers).
Then pop in the freezer for two to three hours.
I recommend working one sheet/pan at a time, while keeping the remaining sheets in the freezer. We want the vegetables to remain easily pourable (i.e. recipe-friendly), so moisture is not our friend; thawing can happen quite quickly once removed from the freezer.
Package them however you’d like! You can freeze one large freezer bag per type of vegetable, measuring on-the-spot for recipes. Or, you can pre-measure and package according to the measurements you typically use in recipes, which is what I do.
For easy packaging, here are simple measurements to take into consideration.
- One cup chopped onion = one medium onion
- Half cup sliced celery = one rib
- One cup sliced carrots = two to three carrots
- One cup chopped bell pepper = One medium pepper
Depending on how much you freeze at once, you may be chop-free for a week, two weeks or even a month. High five for efficiency!
Freezing vegetables is as simple as it gets, but sometimes it really is the simple things that make all the difference in making cooking a bit easier when you’re just not in the mood. This is a nice alternative to the recipe kits in the store, and it’s less expensive and offers more flexibility in the amount of vegetables that are included in each baggie.