May
25
2015
83 Foods to Freeze or Foods NOT to Freeze

Posted at 11:20 AM on May 25, 2015 by I am THAT Lady: Lauren

May 25th, 2015

Freezing foods is a great way to buy things on sale and preserve them for later.  Most foods can be frozen with no problems.  It is important to note that some foods need preparation before being placed in the freezer.  Other foods don’t freeze well under any circumstances. See a full list of foods to freeze and not to freeze.

Last week I posted a huge article titled Freezer Cooking 101 – Everything you need to Freezer Cook Like a Pro.  Freezing foods is a great way to buy things on sale and preserve them for later.  Most foods can be frozen with no problems.  It is important to note that some foods need preparation before being placed in the freezer.  Other foods don’t freeze well under any circumstances.

Here’s an easy list of foods that you can freeze:

eggs (1)

DAIRY:

  • Butter
  • Cheese
  • Cottage cheese
  • Egg whites (must be raw)
  • Ice cream
  • Milk
  • Whipped cream (sweetened, in individual serving dollops)
  • Whole eggs (follow these extensive prep notes here)

Meat (1)

MEAT, POULTRY, and SEAFOOD:

  • Bacon
  • Beef
  • Chicken
  • Crab
  • Fish
  • Hot dogs
  • Lobster
  • Lunch meat
  • Pork
  • Sausage
  • Scallops
  • Shrimp
  • Turkey
  • Wild game (venison, rabbit, duck, pheasant, squirrel, goose)

fruit (1)

PRODUCE:

Almost all produce can be frozen.  Here are some that freeze particularly well.  Make sure to follow prepping directions here for best results.

  • Artichokes
  • Asparagus
  • Avocado (pureed and prepped with lemon juice)
  • Beets
  • Berries
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Cherries
  • Greens (including spinach and collards)
  • Mangos
  • Melon (chunks)
  • Mushrooms
  • Okra
  • Onions
  • Peaches (peeled, sliced)
  • Peas
  • Pineapple (chunks)
  • Potatoes
  • Pumpkin
  • Squash (summer squash, zucchini, and all winter squashes)
  • Strawberries (hulled)
  • Sweet potatoes

PRODUCE THAT YOU CAN FREEZE (but only in certain circumstances):

  • Cabbage (will be soggy, CAN be used in cooked dishes after frozen)
  • Celery (only to be used in cooked dishes)
  • Garlic (frozen in oil)
  • Herbs (frozen in water or oil to be used in cooked dishes or dressings)
  • Overripe bananas, peeled (great for smoothies and banana bread)

PRODUCE THAT CAN BE FROZEN in syrup packs:

  • Apples
  • Citrus fruits
  • Grapes
  • Plums
  • Pomegranates

nuts (1)

NUTS, SEEDS, AND GRAINS:

These items do very well in the freezer.  Because of their high fat content they would go rancid sooner if you only stored them at room temperature.  The freezer helps preserve them for months longer than the pantry.

  • Nuts (also nut flours are great in the freezer)
  • Seeds
  • Flours (high in oil content like wheat flour)

muffins (1)

BAKED GOODS:

  • Biscuits
  • Brownies
  • Cakes (unfrosted)
  • Croutons
  • Muffins
  • Cookies
  • Quick breads (like banana bread)
  • Fruit cake
  • Doughnuts (unglazed)
  • Pie (fruit, meat, nut, sweet potato, and pumpkin are all okay.  DO NOT freeze pies with meringue on top)
  • Pizza – reheat at 400 degrees
  • Yeast breads

pastry shell (1)

UNCOOKED DOUGHS, BATTERS, AND PASTRIES:

  • Pizza dough – uncooked
  • Pie shells – blind baked (ready to fill)
  • Cookie dough -individually freeze then place in zipper bag
  • Cake Batter
  • Yeast dough

OTHER:

  • Pesto sauce
  • Wine (freeze in ice cube trays for use in sauces)

Tips to make dinnertime easy with COOKED FOODS THAT FREEZE WELL

(Make sure to cool completely in the fridge before freezing.)

  • Baked Breads (cooled completely before wrapping).  We load up on clearance breads from our grocery store.  They have a rack at the back of the store where all the breads are up to 75% off.  These are great time savers for Sunday afternoon meals when you are so hungry when you get home.  Also, bread helps a meal stretch to serve so many more people.  Frozen loaves reheated in the oven are perfect for when you’re hosting surprise dinner guests!
  • Casseroles (like this one!) (Unless otherwise noted in recipe, thaw overnight in fridge, bake covered at 350 for one hour or until bubbly.)
  • Chicken and turkey – deboned and chopped, freeze in 1 cup portions for easy thawing and recipe use
  • Ground beef – freeze in 1 cup portions for easy thawing and recipe use
  • Pasta, undercooked – do not rinse – do not add sauce
  • Tomato based pasta sauce
  • Here’s a great resource on how to prep your fresh meat and veggies for freezer storage.

See this great chart here for food storage times.

gelatin (1)

FOODS THAT DO NOT FREEZE WELL:

  • Cooked egg whites
  • Cream based soups and sauces
  • Cucumber
  • Desserts with meringue
  • Fried foods (become soggy)
  • Frostings/icing that include raw egg whites
  • Fully cooked pasta (can be frozen in dishes if undercooked)
  • Fully cooked rice
  • Gelatin
  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Lettuce
  • Mayonnaise and mayo-based salads (tuna salad, egg salad)
  • Sour cream

You can learn more about how to prepare foods for freezing and some great tips here on Freezer Cooking 101.  What foods would you add to this list?

Presentation of a series of ice cubes with strawberries

Presentation of a series of ice cubes with strawberries

May
24
2015
The Best Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

Posted at 1:14 PM on May 24, 2015 by I am THAT Lady: Lauren

May 24th, 2015

Are you looking for the best strawberry rhubarb pie recipe?  Look no further, because this award winning pie is sure to be the talk of the party!  You can also make a gluten-free strawberry rhubarb pie with this recipe too!

 

One of my favorite summer treats – is a homemade Strawberry Rhubarb Pie.  I was so worried that I wouldn’t be able to eat it anymore – so I adapted my recipe to make it Gluten-Free.  You can make this with a regular pie crust as well, but if you eat Gluten-Free try out my pie crust recipe!  This also is dairy and egg free too!

strawberry rhubarb pie

 

GF Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

May
22
2015
3 Secrets to an Affordable Family Vacation

Posted at 8:02 AM on May 22, 2015 by I am THAT Lady: Lauren

May 22nd, 2015

Tracking Pixel

Our favorite place to vacation is Topsail Island, NC.  We always book our rental home through HomeAway and VRBO. This post is brought to you by HomeAway, to help you save on vacations too!

Summer is upon us and you may be wanting to go on a vacation this year.    We have a secret, actually 3 secrets to have an affordable family vacation. We actually just booked an entire week vacation directly on a beach for $1,700.  See how we are getting a great deal and how you can do it too!

Everyone has different ways to vacation. Some like to go to Disney, some like to be tourists, but we like to do NOTHING on our vacations.

beach 3

My family’s ideal of an affordable family vacation consists of:

A house on an ocean beach

No itinerary

Minimal touristy stuff

Most importantly, a GREAT price

In this post, I’m gonna share our favorite destination and our secrets to getting an awesome price and keeping vacation costs low!

Secret #1: For years, we’ve been using VRBO, which is part of the HomeAway family, to book our vacations. They have a database of over 190 MILLION rentals available to just about any location around the world, but our favorite destination is a simple, old, small beach town.

beach 6

Our favorite destination: Topsail Island. I actually have to give credit to my friend Colleen for turning us on to both VRBO and Topsail Island. Back in 2008 when we lived in Charlotte, our good friends rented a beach house. They had a spare room, so they invited us to stay a few days with them (we only had one kid then). We went and LOVED it. They had a gorgeous 4 bedroom house right on the beach, and when they told us the price they paid, we couldn’t believe it.

Why Topsail? It is very family friendly. There’s really just one main road that goes up and down the coast and it’s lined with houses. There are hardly any huge tourist attractions to think of, which is one of the reasons that we love it!

beach 2

What do kids want to do on vacations? Play. Swim. Splash. Run around. And what do I like to do on vacation? Relax. Read a book. Play board games. Don’t get me wrong, I love visiting awesome attractions. But with the ages of our kids, it’s almost not worth it sometimes. Have you ever taken a cranky 21 month old to an amusement park? I haven’t, and I’m not about to try.

With a small beach town, you also get cheaper prices. I actually just booked a beautiful HUGE 5 bedroom oceanfront house for $1,785 for the week! The beach is just steps away (no road to cross, it’s literally right there!) We are gonna split the cost with my sister and her family too, which brings the cost down even more. By renting an entire house instead of getting a hotel, you end up getting more than twice the square footage for the same price.

beach1

We can’t WAIT to get back there. We had to skip 2 years (giving birth to Abby, and then traveling 12+ hours with a 12 month old wasn’t gonna happen last summer).

beach 8

Secret #2: We rent during just off-peak season. Topsail Island is in North Carolina, which has a different school schedule than up here in New York. When kids are headed back to school during the last week in August in North Carolina, rates for vacation rentals drop. And since our school doesn’t start until the Wednesday after Labor Day, that last week of summer is a great time for us to find some deals.

For example, the house I just booked for $1,785 has rates during the peak of summer at almost $4,000! Also, it gives us something to look forward to as summer goes on. Instead of the kids dreading the end of summer and having to go back to school, they now have an awesome beach vacation to look forward to all summer.

beach 4

Secret #3: Since we are renting an actual house with a full kitchen, we aren’t gonna be eating our much at all. There’s a supermarket about 5 minutes from the beach, and closer to the beach, there’s a “shack” that sells fresh fish and shrimp. Our favorite meal of the week is always a “low country boil”.

If you’ve never had this, you need to. It’s basically a pot full of shrimp, crab legs, chunks of corn on the cob, red potatoes and whatever else you think belongs – boiled with Louisiana-style seasoning. It’s SOOOO good. And again, I have to thank my friend Colleen for introducing us to the low country boil.

One more memory that I just HAVE to share… the last time we were at Topsail Island, we had the pleasure of witnessing something AWESOME. Our house in 2012 was situated right next to a sea turtle nest. And on one of the last nights we were there, they hatched! We watched as literally hundreds of baby sea turtles emerged from the sand and scuttled into the ocean. It was AMAZING. I wish I had pictures, but there was no flash photography allowed since the lights would distract them from heading towards the ocean.

beac 8

So that’s what we do for our summer vacations, and HomeAway and VRBO make it so easy for us. Did I mention that it’s free to use?

Are you still looking to book a summer vacation? It’s not too late! And you might be in luck! This summer, you could win a $5,000 vacation through the HomeAway Kidfluencers Contest! Simply record your kids explaining why your family should win this vacation in a 15-60 second video and submit by May 29th, and you could win an amazing vacation this summer from HomeAway!

Just upload the video to Instagram, YouTube or Vimeo, using the hashtag #HomeAwayVacation and complete the entry form here before May 29, 2015. HomeAway will select 10 finalists that will be voted on by the public from June 8 to 12 to determine the winner. For more details on the contest, head on over and check it out here.

Summer vacation concept

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of HomeAway.

 

May
20
2015
24 best things to buy at the dollar store

Posted at 8:02 AM on May 20, 2015 by I am THAT Lady: Lauren

May 20th, 2015

Not everything at the dollar store is a great deal, but many things are. Check out this list of 24 AWESOME buys at the dollar store!

There are two ways of thinking about the dollar store – either it is inexpensive junk or bargains galore. Depending on the type of shopper you are, you may avoid it because you think everything in there is poorly made or miniature size. Or you may it and buy everything you normally have on your shopping list assuming you are getting the best deal.

While there are most definitely items in the dollar stores that will break very quickly, there are also items that could be found cheaper elsewhere. I have pulled together the 24 best things to buy at the dollar store to stretch your budget and save you money.

Home Collage

Home:

  1. Cleaning supplies – Large containers of Comet, bottles of spray cleaner, and many others are a great buy.
  2. Rubber gloves – While you are cleaning, you might need gloves to protect your hands. These sell for $3 at the grocery store.
  3. Flower Pots – These normally sell for $5 or more at hardware stores.
  4. Kitchen Gadgets – You have to be careful of what you buy but I’ve been using the same set of funnels that I purchased for at a dollar store over 2 years ago. I saw name brand items that are sure to work without feeling flimsy.
  5. Organizational Items – You can find baskets, plastic shoe boxes and many other organizers to get the job done. Teachers will love these, too!
  6. Mailing Supplies – Manilla envelopes, padded envelopes and shipping labels!

Food Collage

Food:

  1. Frozen Fruit and Vegetables – The packages of these in my dollar store looked an awful lot like some name brands I know. I’m betting that $1 that they are the same thing but with a name change.
  2. Spices – You can’t beat $1 for a bottle of spices, especially if it’s one you use only at Thanksgiving like pumpkin pie spice. This way, when you toss it before the next holiday because it’s old, there is no guilt for the money spent.
  3. Foil Pans – Taking food for a potluck or to someone’s house? Buy your foil pans at the dollar store to save money and eliminate the need for returning containers.

Family Collage

Family:

  1. Hair Ties – These get lost so easily. Why spend $3 – 4 on a pack when you can get them for $1?
  2. Socks – Socks go missing frequently, buying them at the dollar store means you won’t be upset when they disappear next week.
  3. Pregnancy Tests – If you are trying for a baby and taking pregnancy tests often, you can go through a small fortune waiting for that positive result. It might seem odd but a dollar store is the best place to buy them.
  4. School Supplies – There are definitely items to avoid (pencils, glue sticks, crayons) but there are great deals to be had here, too. Binders (name brand), posterboard, trifold boards for science fair projects (I was so shocked to see that!), and notecards are just a few great buys.
  5. Craft Items – Kids love doing crafts. Stock up on beads, feathers, glitter, pipe cleaners, stickers, foam shapes and even complete craft kits that will keep the kids entertained for hours.
  6. Pets – Pet dishes for dogs and cats as well as some name brand food and treats can be found at the dollar store. There are also leashes, collars and toys as well! Skip the pet store and save yourself money.

Road Trip

Vacation:

  1. Road Trip Snacks – Buy snacks for the ride. The dollar store is the best place to find those movie theater sized boxes of candy. Buy them before going to the theater as well!
  2. Coloring & Puzzle Books – Keep the kids (and yourself) occupied while you are traveling with coloring books, crossword puzzles, sudoku and more for just $1.
  3. Beach Toys -Cheaper than when you arrive in a beach town and you won’t feel bad when one gets left behind.

party

Special Occasions/Seasonal:

  1. Holiday/Seasonal Decorations – Each season the store is stocked full of decorations and other items that can help you celebrate.
  2. Partyware – Plates, cups, napkins, utensils, decorations and so much more, whether it’s a birthday party or a graduation party, they’ll have plenty for you to decorate with.
  3. Weddings – If you are planning centerpieces, check out a dollar store. They have the exact items a friend of mine used on her tables- glass cylinders, glass beads, floating candles..
  4. Gift wrapping – Never spend more than $1 on a gift bag again! The same goes for bows, wrapping paper and even name brand tape.
  5. Greeting cards – Why spend $3 or more on a card that is usually thrown away?
  6. Balloons – Helium filled mylar balloons!

******************

The next time you are shopping, make a trip to the dollar store. Take this list along with you so you are sure to score some great deals!

Is there anything on this list that you didn’t know you could find at dollar stores? Are there items that I overlooked? What have you found to be great deals at the dollar stores?

May
18
2015
Freezer Cooking 101 – Tips and Tricks to Learn how to Freezer Cook Like a PRO!

Posted at 1:17 PM on May 18, 2015 by I am THAT Lady: Lauren

May 18th, 2015
When I first started trying to save money on groceries for my growing family I was overwhelmed at the thought of using my freezer for anything other than ice cubes and ice cream.  Sometimes even the ice cream would come out crusty and dried.  I'v
May
16
2015
7th ALDI Meal Plan – Grilling Edition

Posted at 10:28 AM on May 16, 2015 by I am THAT Lady: Mark

May 16th, 2015

Get out your grill and prepare for a fun season of outdoor cooking with this Grilling ALDI Meal Plan! Every recipe included in this meal plan is BRAND NEW. Amazing grilling recipes PLUS amazing side dish recipes!

For around $155 at ALDI, you will

May
15
2015
11 Cheap Ridiculously Healthy Foods You Should Be Buying

Posted at 10:54 AM on May 15, 2015 by I am THAT Lady: Lauren

May 15th, 2015
Is it impossible to eat healthy without breaking the bank? It definitely isn’t if you are crafty with your shopping! One of the most common mistakes shoppers make are buying healthy foods that are not easy to translate into multiple dishes. Cooki