Thursday, January 15

Foodism and My Freezer Fetish

Every time I return to lowcarb (and let's not laugh about that phrase -- why do I leave it??), I experience the same kind of humorous effect: Foodism.

Suddenly everything is defined by food. And every food is defined by its qualities. Not only that, everything ELSE is defined by food's qualities, or issues of diet. I can come up with analogies to everything from football to metaphysics, based solely on my lowcarb philosophy and food. It's like there is this giant filter that shrinks down into "lowcarb-colored glasses". I see everything through it.

So this cycle has a funny new element: I have become unusually obsessed with my freezer. You know how some people collect kitchen stuff with roosters, or everything that has clowns, or God knows what else -- a "collection" obsession. I have one. With me, it's about food -- in particular, lots of "stored food that is lowcarb and fast/easy to cook."

Having several times gone off lowcarb in part because there was nothing to eat, and what "else" I ate promptly led to even worse decisions, and because my child in my view is chronically hungry for some reason, I really want to have STUFF IN THE FREEZER. I have a huge freezer in the garage and a normal freezer above my fridge. I'm working on a gradual collection of these square 5.2 cup rubbermaid containers that freeze or nuke just fine.

I gotta make stuff the kid likes, although I like spicier foods. I make stuff that is CHEAP and FAST as much as possible. I crockpot all kinds of stuff, ladle it out into 'take-alongs' rubbermaid storage containers and stack 'em in the freezer. I can take one out when I know I need food tomorrow -- it's 2-4 servings for the 5 cups of food in the bowl. I mean 'real' servings, LOL, not the size normally allotted but what we actually eat. If I need to eat soon I defrost it in the microwave, takes about 30 minutes for that, then a few minutes more for each bowl to heat it.

I'm a proletariat when it comes to food, apparently. We try to have hamburger and eggs and bacon and shred-cheese around all the time since those are pretty much the details we do "around" our staples of "stew and meats" (still working to minimize the cheese thing).

Here's what I'm gradually adding to my freezer, at the same time we're eating the stuff. The beans are carby but make a big difference in quality, especially if when you're done, you use beaters to get rid of any burger chunks; the beans cook out and blend well so it's thicker. We are not VLC (very-low-carb <30) anymore, I will let it go to about 70 carbs a day but usually if we exceed VLC it's because of quantity eaten of something like beans.

The more meat and fewer beans, the more lowcarb it is of course. When I say "a bunch of" burger I mean, "most the pot is burger, with some veggies and beans and spices/sauce." Because these don't have highcarb fillers like potatoes or corn starch when it's over, much of their thickness is because they are dominantly MEAT.

Low-Carb Proletarian:

Bulk Crock-pot Freezer Food Galore

Burger Stew
bunch of cheap burger
every veggie you can find, cut small
bunch of seasoning, we mix taco and chili
a jar of spaghetti sauce
bunch of soaked shell beans, we mix black-pinto-red

Sloppy Stew
bunch of cheap burger like turkey burger
every veggie you can find, cut small, especially peppers/onions
a jar of spaghetti sauce
bunch of sloppy joe seasoning
bunch of soaked shell beans, we mix black-pinto-red

Turkey Stew, v1
bunch of turkey burger
Turkey stock from some previous turkey I baked (save in freezer)
(if I didn't have the real deal I'd have used water and a LOT of bouillon)
Onions, carrots, peas, mushrooms
bunch of soaked shell beans, we mix black-pinto-red
(v2 of this stew uses the remains of a baked turkey, instead of turkeyburger.)

Chili Verde
pork loin cubed and braised (grilled a little)
onions and peppers grilled a little, anaheim chili is good--tasty but fairly mild
Bunch of tomatillos, blendered (if you're lazy: few big jars salsa-verde)
Garlic, spices. Dump into crockpot on high for 7 hours till meat is much softer. This is not a 'stew' so much as 'spiced meat'.

Spicy Burger Chili
bunch of cheap burger
whole package of decased spicy italian sausage, cut up small
onions and peppers and peas and carrots and soaked shell beans
a jar of spaghetti sauce
Bunch of italian herbs

Chili with Beans
bunch of burger, any kind
all the onions/peppers you have
bunch of chili seasoning
a jar of spaghetti sauce
I use leftover taco or spaghetti meat to dump in this
if I have any roast I braise small chunks and add that too

Alfredo Stew
Cut fat off then chunk up as much chicken as possible, any kind
make alfredo or buy it in jars (I'm lazy, I buy jars!)
some peppers, onions, peas and mushrooms are good with this
good with italian spices and lots of peppercorns

I was shocked to discover that turkey burger at walmart sells for $1.79/lb in 3# packages. That's cheaper than even the cheapest beef burger in quantity. So we're going to be having a lot more turkey-burger stews from now on!

I hope in the next couple of days to experiment with using turkey burger and pesto. I love pesto but can't have pasta; it's great with chicken small-chunked, pesto and sliced peppers/chilis, some red pepper flakes; cook the chicken and peppers however you like then dump into the pesto, YUM. (If you like quick chicken dishes or often have cooked turkey/chicken, try the Mexi-Chicken Mixes I posted eons ago - good stuff!)

I have a 5qt and 8.5qt crockpot (and a small sauce/side-type). Basically I buy 6# of turkey burger ($10.74), 2# of shell beans (soaked at least 12 hours) (they're really cheap, that's usually about $1.50-$2), a jar or two of sauce depending on the thing I'm making (most are around $2.38ea at walmart -- alfredo, spaghetti, etc. so around $5), and whatever veggies are fairly cheap and bulky... green bell peppers, carrots, onions, and I usually add frozen peas (not super cheap but yummy), around $10 depending on what you buy and how much. I mix stuff in two huge bowls, chunking the meat as small as possible, then dump the contents into the two crockpots. I mix it a couple times while cooking and then usually use beaters to break up burger chunks.

The beans usually require cooking longer than the 5 hour norm I find, they're slightly crunchy if not cooked longer, even if they are soaked a really long time. If you're cooking a tough meat like cheap pork roast you'll want to do it as long as you can to soften it. If you're cooking peppers you should wait to dump them in until there's max 4 hours left (peppers 'turn' odd when overcooked in the crockpot... trust me on this, your digestive system will thank you). I usually make two things with similar ingredients but different sauce/flavor focus (such as turkey chili and turkey stew).

My 8 qt will give us each a bowl for dinner plus make 5 of the 5-cup containers to put in the freezer and another partial container to stick in the fridge for the next day. My 5 qt will make about 4 containers and a bowl for dinner. So I grant that overall it costs me about $30. But each container for us is at least 2 meals if not more, so that's about 21 servings (meals) total for that which is pretty damn good! My freezer's top-half fits a stack of ice trays and a couple small things, plus 18 of those containers. The bottom half of the freezer is usually a mess of everything-else. I have a big chest freezer in the garage that I put most stuff in that I don't intend to eat right away. Including these containers sometimes! At left is a rather bad cell phone pic the kid took for me to illustrate 10 containers in my freezer. ;-)

Since money's an issue for most single moms like me, it's cool to find stuff you can make that is yummy, requires cooking far less often, can be frozen indefinitely, can be just nuked for a quick meal, and is lowcarb 'real food'. If you make your own ingredients like spaghetti sauce it might be cheaper and a little healthier. If you grow a garden so you've got peppers and onions or peas from that, that's great.

Bulk food may be the only way I survive the long term of lowcarb.



kamafood said...

whole package of decased spicy italian sausage, cut up small

I think it must say something about me that I read it as "deceased spicy italian sausage" and was thinking, "Well yeah, where would you find live sausage?"

Good idea. Do you like curries? They also store well in the freezer.

nonegiven said...

When I make sloppy joes, i use 1 cup low carb ketchup, ¼ cup water, 1 T worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper to 1 lb ground meat with a handful each chopped onion and bell pepper. It tastes just like the sloppy joe stuff I used to buy but doesn't give me a tummy ache.

Marbles said...

You mentioned Walmart prices on ground turkey. I don't know if you have Aldi stores in your region, if you check you can see if you do. They have VERY good prices on ground turkey, and many other things. Their sausage prices are also good.