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  • Pinay Mom's Hack To Keep Food Fresh For Longer Can Help Lessen Trips To The Grocery

    by Kitty Elicay .
Pinay Mom's Hack To Keep Food Fresh For Longer Can Help Lessen Trips To The Grocery
PHOTO BY courtesy of Noemi Francisco
  • The enhanced community quarantine means families need to plan their grocery runs and stock up on food as much as they can to avoid the need to go out. But how can you do that if the food you’re purchasing in bulk has shorter shelf life? One mom has a solution: freezer meals.

    Noemi “Mimi” Francisco, 40, tells SmartParenting.com.ph that she has been doing the method even before the community quarantine started so her three older kids — Kyle, 20, Czeska, 18, and Lanze, 13 — can easily cook food even when she’s not around. But because of the quarantine period, the mom of four (her youngest is 5 years old) decided to freeze meals good for 2 to 3 weeks to extend the shelf life of their food.

    It was actually her brother who inspired her. “I was thinking of ways to preserve food and not go out to buy fresh ingredients when I remembered my big brother who had two freezers and a ref full of food back when he still lived in the Philippines,” Mimi tells Smart Parenting. “I asked him why he needs to stock up on frozen food and his answer was ‘to avoid going out all the time.’”

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    Mimi (fourth from left) with her husband Nick, and kids Kyle, Czeska, Lanze, and Athena.
    PHOTO BY courtesy of Noemi Francisco

    She then researched the shelf life of meat and how to make freezer meals. She discovered that Erwan Heussaff also makes the same kind of meals that are ready-made with condiments and which includes liquid for soup. She modified it a bit without the condiments because “I don’t do measurements. I rely on my tastebud.”

    In a Facebook post, Mimi shares how easy it is to make your own freezer meals. “This saves time, energy, and will prolong the shelf life of veggies,” she shares. “Mahilig kami sa gulay kaya [I] need to think of ways on how to continue serving it to my kids.”

    Mimi slices the vegetables first and separates them according to the recipe it will be used for before blanching.
    PHOTO BY courtesy of Noemi Francisco

    Here are the steps:

    1. Wash all ingredients thoroughly.
    2. Divide meat, poultry, or fish and other ingredients into portions according to your needs per recipe.
    3. Blanch (scald in boiling water) the vegetables. Wait for it to cool before you put in a reusable, re-sealable storage bag.
    4. Use a separate storage bag for the meat. Make sure there is no water residue for both meat and veggies.
    5. Make sure to release all air before you lock
    6. Label them accordingly. You can also put a scheduled date or day on when to cook it.
    7. Freeze the meals.
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    Mimi emphasizes that you should always separate the meat and vegetables to avoid contamination. Use individual bags for each kind.
    PHOTO BY courtesy of Noemi Francisco
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    You can invest in sturdy storage bags so you can reuse them and to lessen the use of plastic.
    PHOTO BY courtesy of Noemi Francisco

    Mimi admits that she’s not a professional chef but she does have experience cooking daily for 20 years. In one of the mommy groups where she posted the hack, she shares that the texture of the vegetables will likely change after being thawed. “They will not be as crisp, that is why you have to read up to do proper blanching,” she advises. “Or, for example, for potatoes and carrots in Afritada, I’ll just fry them once thawed because I don’t want it to be mushy.”

    She also shares how she steps for blanching the vegetables:

    1. Prepare a basin or bowl with water and ice (for the ice bath). Set aside.
    2. Boil water in a casserole or pan and put the vegetables (the number of minutes for blanching depends on the vegetable if it's leafy or root crop etc.)
    3. Boil for 1-2 minutes according to the texture that you want. The ones I read on the Internet says 3-4 minutes. I boiled mine as half-cooked.
    4. Remove from boiling water and immediately transfer to the ice bath to stop the cooking process.
    5. Once cold you may strain it. Set aside for a while before you put in a storage bag.
    6. DO NOT OVER BOIL. Remember you will still cook it again after thawing.
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    How "freezer meal sinigang" looks like when cooked.
    PHOTO BY courtesy of Noemi Francisco

    Mimi reminds other moms who want to try her hack to also do their own research, like the proper way of washing vegetables; proper way of freezing meat, poultry, and seafood; whether you need to salt the meat before freezing, among others. For example, “There are veggies that really need blanching and there are some that don't need one. You just have to research which one is which,” she shares.

    Freezer meals not only help preserve meals naturally, but it can also be a lifesaver for busy moms who have less time to prepare and cook meals for their family. So you can definitely keep doing it even after the community quarantine is over. “Hope this helps the kitchen frontliners!” Mimi shares.

    How many dishes can you make using one kilo of meat? Moms share their recipes here.

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