17 Jan2007

time1

One of my pet peeves is wasted effort in the kitchen or grocery. If you spend enough time in there, you realize a lot of the activity can be done far more efficiently. When we first moved back to the Philippines, I realized we were going to the grocery almost every other day…I was so exasperated that I went into our home pantry and fridge and like the anal retentive consultant that I am, figured out our top 100 items in stock and made a computerized shopping checklist that was arranged by the AISLES of the local grocery we used to go to. That way, the cook would just tick off what she needed from pre-printed lists (with room for other items), then I would go off to the grocery and zoom down the aisles in a pre-determined traffic pattern, get everything we needed, avoided impulse purchases, never backtracked on aisles, and saved over 50% of the time we normally wasted in the grocery! That system worked fine for a month until the grocery started changing the location of their goods…which they do often…precisely because of folks like me! At any rate, this is an illustrative example of wasted effort…

Another pet peeve is when I buy a tray of meat (say 8 chicken breasts or a kilo of sirloin steaks) and it is just stuck into the freezer, regardless of weight or number of pieces. Then, when we need to cook a meal, the entire tray is taken out to defrost, a few pieces time2pried away when soft enough and the remainder is re-frozen again. Sometimes this is repeated 2-3 times if the tray is large enough. This practice is horrible for the food itself, potentially attracts the cooties, wastes electricity as the freezer has to freeze the meat again, and just offends my sense of “you could have avoided this with a little planning” gene. So that was a long introduction to a little kitchen tip that might help some of you. As soon as you get back from the grocery, take apart your large trays of meat and pre-portion them into re-usable ziplock bags. If there are typically two of us for lunch, then two chicken breasts or four if you are big eaters are then put into one bag and frozen that way. When mealtime comes, you just pull out one bag and you are good to go. It sounds so obvious but so many folks don’t bother to do this. Even better, if you are seriously attempting a diet, and will be eating a lot of chicken breasts as I have done recently, I take say 8 breasts from one tray and put them in four bags and already pre-season them so as soon as they defrost they are ready to cook! Sometimes I add olive oil, rosemary, lemon and salt and pepper with red pepper flakes to the bag, another option is a soy sauce and garlic version. Basically, the sky’s the limit on marinades, take out the hot sauce, the Worcestershire, Kikkoman, limes, kalamansi, spices, etc. You just muck around once and you have several meals ready to grill or bake with a minimum of fuss and kitchen mess…

 

COMMENTS:

  1. peanut says:

    My husband has a SOULMATE hahahahaahahhaah.This is exactly what he wants to do when doing the grocery shopping!
    Although with the freezing of the meat that is exactly what i do sans the marinade.

    Jan 17, 2007 | 2:37 pm

     
  2. wysgal says:

    When I was doing a lot of the grocery shopping for my entire household on a weekly basis I also made a computerized list of my own arranged by aisle in my favorite grocery. I even started listing down the brands of everyday items (cooking oil, detergent, etc) and their weights / sizes because I had plans to “train” my brothers to do the groceries for the house. =)

    Packaged meat with marinades sounds like a great idea … maybe when I’m pressed for time and have to rely on myself to do all my own cooking …

    Jan 17, 2007 | 2:46 pm

     
  3. 33 in Sydney says:

    my computerised checklist is on the fridge door. it’s there so i can quickly tick the boxes for what we need to restock on. it also hangs there for the entertainment of my friends who mock me for being so anal ü

    Jan 17, 2007 | 2:51 pm

     
  4. asunta says:

    what a coincidence! i have been organizing my grocery the same way. as soon as i arrive from doing the grocery, all meats, fish and chicken are transferred to containers for efficient stacking and storage in the freezer. vegetables are transferred to ziplock bags. herbs are placed in jars with water and refrigerated for longer shelf life. and there was a time that i would cook meals good for 2 weeks and freeze them. this i did when i was down to 1 staff and i liked the system so much that it lasted for a year.

    Jan 17, 2007 | 3:11 pm

     
  5. tulip says:

    Your way of packaging portions of meat is a definite MUST for every kitchen (not just households). Freezing, thawing and freezing back meat is unhygienic and the freshness of the meat/fish is compromised. It is best too to thaw any frozen goods in the fridges, NOT on the kitchen tops or even submerged in water(unless the meat is in a tightly closed bag). Kudos to men who think about this should-be women’s concern.

    Jan 17, 2007 | 3:20 pm

     
  6. millet says:

    what a relief to know i’m not the only obsessive-compulsive soul when it comes to computerized grocery lists, freezer portions, and pre-marinated meats! (high five!)

    aside from chicken, other favorite frozen marinated meats in my household are pork/beef tenderloin and loin of pork (for pork roast). your lemon-rosemary-garlic timpla works very well with boneless pork loin which i stick in the turbo for about an hour, alongside marble potatoes (skin on),which i have shaken first in a ziplock bag with a bit of olive oil, italian seasoning (minced mixed herbs) and salt. painless yum!

    Jan 17, 2007 | 4:45 pm

     
  7. Doddie from Korea says:

    MarketMan,

    Hubby is a cook and restaurant manager for a couple of decades now. Thawing meats and then refreezing them is a definite NO-NO in his vocabulary. He is so strict that he automatically throws the re-frozen meat away. I have learned my lesson when I cooked a re-frozen meat and had food poisoning for several days.

    Doddie

    Jan 17, 2007 | 5:26 pm

     
  8. joey says:

    I do this too! :) I live in fear of running out on my precious ziplock bags…hehehe. I actually love doing this, and seeing my neat little packages in the freezer (along with the stock which also goes in ziplocks) side by side, labelled and ready for action! I haven’t tried pre-seasoning or putting in the marinade already though…great idea! Thank you for the tip, I’ll try it next time :)

    Jan 17, 2007 | 5:41 pm

     
  9. TOPING says:

    This is exactly what I’m forever telling our kitchen staff to do, so it drives me bonkers when they conveniently “forget” to do so when I don’t have time to personally supervise the pre-storage preparation of the week’s grocery. What I don’t understand is that by observing this routine, I am actually making their work EASIER for them! Unpack, wash, drain well, apportion into serving sizes, stuff into ziplock bags, store in freezer. How simple can it be?

    Jan 17, 2007 | 6:13 pm

     
  10. sister says:

    For those in the US: All poultry has been “chilled” to 26 F before being transported so you are in fact buying defrosted chicken at your grocery. Don’t refreeze if at all possible, marinate and refrigerate overnight. There is NO meat stored in my freezer but luckily I am only 2 blocks from a butcher, grocery, gourmet food sources. I’m not a big advocate of frozen meats, cells break when they defrost, however I do understand the efficacy of having food ready to go in one’s freezer.

    Jan 17, 2007 | 9:00 pm

     
  11. Margaux Salcedo says:

    Hi Marketman! It’s my first time to comment ever as margauxlicious! I’m going around the blogosphere tonight. Just want to holler that I love your blog. And gawd you are OC!!! Great tips though =)

    Jan 17, 2007 | 10:28 pm

     
  12. Jacob's Mom says:

    I’m with you on the computerized grocery list. I don’t list my items by aisle/location but by general categories because I often have to stop at several different stores to complete my shopping. I also have a separate sheet for my 60-odd spices, to make sure I always have them in stock. Like your sister, I’m fortunate to live only minutes from a good grocer but even then I try to make at the most only two trips to the store each week. When I buy meat, I ask the butcher to wrap them in one- or two-pound portions. That saves me from having to repack when I get home, esp since their boxes and paper are freezer-safe anyway.

    Now, if only we lived close to a good Asian store!

    Jan 17, 2007 | 10:31 pm

     
  13. NYCMama says:

    Ha! Thanks for letting me know I am not so weird with my computerized check off list, arranged by grocery store aisle! Good thing here in the States they don’t shift aisles around too much (some companies actually pay to retain certain areas of the store and certain shelves! of course we consumers pay for that in the end.) Recently, to save even more time, my list is arranged in two columns, so that if the ones shopping are my husband and I, I can tear the sheet down the middle, we take one half each, tackle our part of the list, then meet at the registers in just a few minutes!

    Jan 17, 2007 | 10:37 pm

     
  14. renee says:

    whoa! oc-anonymous! i live in a house where we love left over sinigang, so cooking 2 kilos of pork or beef at a time is normal for us, we really love it the next day when the flavors merge – super sour and super spicy! But this is a great tip though, when I leave the nest and live on my own – great post =)

    Jan 17, 2007 | 10:58 pm

     
  15. Zita says:

    MM,

    Great tip! It’s the only way to go.
    I buy my meat in bulk becuase it’s cheaper!!! Then I segregate them when I get home and put labels on it so I know what they are. It makes it easier for me to fish them out of the freezer that way.

    Jan 17, 2007 | 11:42 pm

     
  16. Knittymommy says:

    OMG! I am so glad to read that I am not the only person that does this. I always thought people thought I was too Martha-ish when they came around my place and saw my computerized grocery list on the ref. I’ve been meaning to do the segregating by aisle list, but havent had the chance to do it yet.
    I also do the premarinating in serving portions of the meats when I have the forethought to prepare my family menu beforehand. I try to have an a two-week menu ready at all times….. Now, is that too much?

    Jan 18, 2007 | 1:57 am

     
  17. cwid says:

    I used to have a blackboard in the kitchen where we wrote anything that was running low and we used this list for the next shopping trip. But that blackboard was essentially for the maids. Now that I do the cooking myself, I have a good feel for what I need when I go to the supermarket.

    For some people like me, making an organized computerized list is too painful. I like the experience of the hunt in the grocery store. I like discovering and trying out new products. I read nutrition labels and compare brands. The result is an overflowing pantry. That reminds me, I promised to clean and organize the pantry today!

    Jan 18, 2007 | 2:15 am

     
  18. Maria Clara says:

    My pantry shelves are refilled twice a year including my beverages, baking, laundry, toiletries, and bath supplies. Thawing and refreezing meat is not a good practice. You will be harboring a colony of e-coli! When I go to the market on a weekly basis, I just grab my vegetables, fruits, breads, dairies, wine, deli cheeses, meats and fish. I never store meat in the freezer that long. The turn around of my meat in the freezer is usually two weeks. Marinating meats and keeping them in individual serving portion is an excellent idea.

    Jan 18, 2007 | 3:54 am

     
  19. trishlovesbread says:

    I’m with all of you on the pre-portioning and no refreezing. Just wondering, why don’t bacteria die in the freezer? And don’t they all die when you cook the meat?

    Sister, thanks for the tip but I don’t think I could go to the store that often. :-)

    Jan 18, 2007 | 4:54 am

     
  20. Lei says:

    MM and sister, sorry for the silly question but if you add marinade to the meat then freeze it immediately, will the marinade be absorved well? i thought that you have to keep it in ref for quite some time to make it work. thanks!

    Jan 18, 2007 | 9:50 am

     
  21. kaye says:

    Hi MM… just wanted to ask first why some of the comments seem to disappear while i read them.. hahaha.. weird question.. those on the green background would disappear when i scroll.. is it jsut me?? hehehe

    i also do this after doing my grocery.. i clean and wash them, drain, salt, flavor and place them in either freezer bags or sandwich bags good for 1meal so i can neatly stack them in the freezer. am really glad am not the only one like this.. hehehe.. hubby calls me OC na borderline.. hahaha!!

    Jan 18, 2007 | 11:24 am

     
  22. cookie says:

    Hi MM! I do this all the time. We live in NJ and Costco is a god-send! We go to Costco, maybe every month to a month and a half. And we buy a tray each of chicken, pork loin cut into chops, beef stew pieces, ground beef. Then after coming back from Costco we portion each item into ziplock bags, but I use a weighing scale to divide my meats. Costco just recently came out with packaged chicken – 5 pieces to a package of your choice of chicken part (they bundle ten packs and sell it that way). Its great! I can plan my meals easier and quicker.

    Jan 18, 2007 | 11:45 am

     
  23. Gigi says:

    3 words: Marketman for President!

    Jan 18, 2007 | 3:57 pm

     
  24. Katrina says:

    My family is nothing if not organized. My mom’s been doing the pre-printed, supermarket aisle-arranged list way before we had a computer at home! She typed it up then Xeroxed more copies as needed. Brands, etc. were indicated so it was easy to follow no matter who did the shopping. Wysgal, it IS possible to train your brothers to do this; my brothers took over the grocery shopping when they got old enough. The incentive to doing it was that if it was your turn, you got to add your favorite “extras” (junk food, cookies, cereal, etc.), as long as they stayed within the allotted budget.

    Jan 18, 2007 | 4:06 pm

     
  25. veron says:

    It takes a lot of patience to maintain an inventory. I had one in my pda and never used it again. Hmmn…now that we cleaned the freezer maybe I can do that again. Do they sell the vacuum sealer in the Philippines. They sell them at Costco here in the U.S. My brother bought one over here and brought it home. The hassle only is finding the bags that go with it.

    Jan 19, 2007 | 5:38 am

     
  26. Marketman says:

    I like the idea of those vacuum sealers a lot, will probably get one the next time we are in the States… Kaye, the problem you have is limited to a few browsers. It is a bit annoying but I am not sure how to fix it…will have to ask my techy guy. Lei, you are absolutely correct, its best to marinate for several hours to overnight in the fridge before freezing for maximum flavor in the chicken… trish, I think the cooties “go to sleep” in the freezer but wake up quickly when warmed up!

    Jan 19, 2007 | 3:55 pm

     
  27. lovely palanca says:

    Good idea but I suggest you eliminate the soy sauce and salt in your marinade coz this will toughen your meat. Better to just add oil and spices and then when ready to cook, quick marinate it for about thirty minutes with your soy sauce and anything with salt. Salt will extract the juices in your meat. :-)

    Jan 19, 2007 | 9:30 pm

     
  28. dhayL says:

    I can definitely relate to this one. Normally, i would create a meal plan for the week, so i know what to cook and what to buy in the grocery. I would write down all my ingredients, and then shop at home first; i would check the fridge/freezer and pantry to see if i have a stock already or not; then i’ll head off to the grocery with a shorter list (saves money and time). As soon as i get home, i will pre-cut my meat acording the dish im making for that week. Sometimes if i have left over meat like pork belly – i would just cut it in cubes and store it for future use like ginasa or for pansit! This way i don’t have to thaw them in big batches, i heard that it’s not good if you thaw your meat specially in the micro then put it back in freezer. I do the same thing for tomatoes and bell peppers, just put them in ziplocks and freeze them! It’s wonderful and it’s saves so much time!

    Jun 7, 2007 | 5:51 am

     
  29. Lady Madonna says:

    I learned one from a friend whan we used to live in Bangkok, Thailand. Upon arrival from the market she sautes her ground pork – She makes it gisa with the typical bawang and sibuyas and lightly seasons it with salt and pepper – She does not toast it – just makes sure that it is just about done- She lets it cool down and then this is when she separates them in portions. It made sense since generally the comfort food in which we incorporate the ground pork with usually are ginisa already – When she is ready to cook with them and use them for torta or omelette or what have you she only defrosts that portion and spends less time in the kitchen too since the ground meat has been pre-cooked!

    Jan 17, 2008 | 10:50 pm

     
  30. Mari says:

    What I do is tell the girl manning the meat counters what and how much I need, have them cut it according to how I will cook them and have them bag,portion and even label everything. When I get home I just put them in the freezer.

    Jul 12, 2008 | 10:02 pm

     
 

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