My Freezer, My Friend

by Leanne Ely

Where would I be without my faithful companion, my freezer? Inside of its chilly little body, contains fixin's for meals, desserts for good boys and girls, and on occasion, some ice for a boo-boo.

Freezers are one of those appliances that has made my life easy and bargain hunting doable. Crockpots are another, but that's another article! Everytime the market has a buy one, get one sale on something worth while, where does it go? The freezer. (of course, I don't do that with non-perishables and cleaning products!)

I have made some great discoveries about the freezer, too. Like milk freezes well! No kidding. If you have found milk marked down at the market, don't worry about the soon-to-be cheese date on the jug. Buy it! Take it home, open it and pour off a glass, reseal it and freeze it. If you don't pour some out and freeze it like it is, the expansion of the milk will cause the container to pop (don't ask me how I know).

When you need some milk to thaw, put your frozen milk container in a sink full of water to thaw overnight. The next morning, shake vigorously and serve. In about three days, add a pinch of salt to extend the life of the milk. Salt is preservative and this little trick works very well. I once bought 15 gallons of milk this way and was drinking milk with an expiration date of March 15 in July!

But I would be remiss to forget to mention that the freezer can also hold an already prepared dinner or two and the beauty of a chilly dinner is the ease of accomplishment--a definite boon to payroll SHE's. Next time you're making something your family loves, double or even triple the recipe and freeze the bounty. Double freezer bag it for long term storage (I use a name brand because the zippers on the bags are more dependable) and mark the contents and date with a Sharpie pen--a trick Debi Hough, author of the book, Frozen Assets taught me (I keep the pen in the Ziplock box to avoid it being absconded by roving bands of children). There is almost no extra work in making three meatloaves vs. one--all you need are the ingredients. And the nifty thing is, if you pull out the meatloaf to thaw in the fridge the morning before you go to work, it'll be a quick warm up in the evening when you get home. By the time the potatoes are done and the salad is tossed, you'll have a delicious dinner ready to roll.

While my freezer might be my friend, I now realize that we can be so much more than friends--my freezer saves me the most precious commodity I treasure--time.

Leanne Ely is a New York Times best selling author of Body Clutter and the popular Saving Dinner cookbook series. According to Woman's Day Magazine, she is the expert on family cooking.

Leanne's syndicated newspaper column, The Dinner Diva can be found in 250 newspapers nationwide and in Canada. Her vast broadcast experience includes media satellite tours, QVC several times as well as guesting on several national television shows, including HGTV's Simple Solutions, ABC Family's Living the Life, Ivanhoe's Smart Woman, Small Talk for Parents and Talk of the Town. She has guest chef-ed on the cooking show, Carolina Cooks and has taught cooking classes all over the country for Bloomingdale's.

In addition, she is a seasoned radio personality. Leanne's own radio show, Heart of A Woman aired during drive time in two major California markets, Los Angeles and San Diego. Her current show, The Dinner Diva is one of the top Blog Talk Radio shows on the Internet.

On the Internet, she pens the Food for Thought column for the immensely popular,, with over half a million readers weekly. She has been featured in Woman's Day magazine, the Chicago Tribune, St. Petersburg Times, Orange County Register - to name a few. Additionally, she is a sought after speaker and has spoken all over the country, with keynote addresses to corporate and non-profit entities. Visit Leanne Ely on Google+.

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