Sandbagging

At many workplaces it’s the time of year when the budget for the next year is cast. Targets are set. Charters are drawn for new initiatives. Conference rooms are full of debate over where to set the mark.

Having grown up in an environment where competition and achievement are highly valued, the concept of besting the best is second nature. I enjoy setting stretch goals and find myself challenging others where I believe the bar can rise a bit. However, there’s a concept known as sandbagging.

Sandbagging is where someone plays beneath their ability on purpose or where they don’t let on that they have it in the bag before they establish a target.

In an odd sort of way, prepping vegetables so that I’ll have them ready for winter recipes is my own private sandbagging. On a recent weekend, with ample CSA produce backed up, I fired up the oven and went to work roasting vegetables into forms fit for freezing. As I struggle with the back to schedule, I’m finding this is a handy shortcut to getting a meal on the table quickly.

Recently, I roasted beets, summer squash, tomatoes and butternut squash. Once they are finished, I allow them to cool and then place them in glass jars in the refrigerator. I’ve found that I have to cool the glass before placing it in the freezer as all glass is not created equal and some of it breaks. I’m also saving my family from any plastic leaching that occurs in the freezing or thawing process.

The beets are quartered into chunks that will be perfect to throw into salads or tarts. I ran the tomatoes through my vitamix and then put the sauce in jars. Later it will make a terrific pasta topper or resting place for slices of polenta. I also pureed the summer squash. It’s an easy addition to any soup or soup on it’s own. I also like it over pasta but as with most dishes, my palate needs this spiced up in order to be really pleasing.

I scooped out the butternut with all sorts of ideas like raviolis and terrines yet last week, pulled it out and served it dusted with a bit of sage and butter. No sense complicating it and it disappeared from the table quickly.

Freezing has been a method of food preservation ever since freezers became wildly available. Keeping foods frozen for a long period of time doesn’t compromise safety but it will affect taste – especially for meat, poultry or fish.  With fruits and vegetables, we get a longer reprieve but it’s still a good idea to use everything within a year. It’s important to keep the freezer cold and remember that freezing doesn’t kill bacteria so cooking the food after freezing is necessary.

So I ask, is it sandbagging or is it a smart short cut? I’m going with the latter but wildly interested in other ways that you find to feed a family fast.  Hints?

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34 Comments

  1. Tammy,
    I don’t think it’s sandbagging at all–to me it’s just being smart and NOT letting the overwhelming flow of veggies RIGHT NOW from the farm share go to waste. I’m presuming that the produce was backing up not because you’re starving yourself but because you’re getting more than you can eat at this time. So if it’s more than you can eat now, and it’s perishable, why not put it up? You’ll be glad of it in winter, when piles of tomatoes all over the counter are a fond memory.
    In addition to roasting and freezing for time-saving meals, I also quick freeze chopped onions and peppers on trays, then transfer them so I can add them to dishes that will be cooked. I’ve been canning crushed tomatoes once a week to add to well, everything. I’ve even put up pizza dough this week, since I got a good deal on buttermilk and wanted to make use of it.

    Reply
    • Canning tomatoes weekly? Wow! I used to freeze pizza dough and sort of forgot about it.

      Reply
      • The plants have gone crazy, finally, and I’m glad. Last year I got 40 pounds from the farm share and had one marathon canning period using them all, this year it will be my plants, and for the near future weekly canning sessions to get them all processed.
        I make a pizza or three every Friday, so forgetting is not an option–the natives would riot. Forgetting what type of dough is in the bag–yes, but I’ve labelled all these bags so I’ll know this time. For the past few weeks I was finding I wasn’t getting my dough made ahead of time like I usually do, and scrambling to make last minute hard-to-work doughs, so this should help.
        I have one kid who comes home for lunch and one who packs to school, but leftovers are the biggest hit with both of them.

        Reply
  2. I call it slow food real fast. Putting by, provisioning, sandbagging, whatever you call it, you’re planning ahead. You can’t really call it a shortcut since you did all that work, but it will feel like a shortcut on that busy day when you open up some jars and slap dinner on the table really fast. But because of your work today, that dinner will be real, delicious, wholesome food with no surprise preservatives.

    I love filling my freezer :)

    Reply
  3. Not sandbagging at all . . .

    You are demonstrating your prowess at Time Management. Putting time to good use now so that it pays dividends later! :D

    I’m with you on butternut squash . . . salt, pepper, and butter. Yum!

    Reply
    • I love it plain but last week I had a butternut squash taco when I was out and I loved it! New challenge!

      Reply
  4. Tammy, I think it’s a wise move. A stitch in time, if you will. If I had enough vegetables I too would sandbag to my heart’s content.

    Reply
    • What do you do for lunch boxes Kate? Looking for more inspiration.

      Reply
      • Not as much veg as I should, and certainly not as much imagination as you, Tammy! I major on carby slaads – rice, cous cous, pasta and pulses and stuff. If you did a series on packed lunches I would be hanging on every word :-)

        Reply
  5. One of my favorites is getting many pounds of u-pick blueberries and throwing them into freezer bags. Yes, it’s plastic, but a quick wash and they make oatmeal a heavenly treat. Or muffins, or lots of other goodies.

    Reply
  6. We’ve just spent the afternoon in similar pursuits. We’ve made roasted tomato sauce, pizza sauce and refrigerator pickles. I don’t think it’s anything but smart to get quick meals started this way. I also make chilli, soup, taco meat and sloppy joe filling ahead of time and freeze it all. It makes quick dinners for hockey night so much easier.

    I am soon going to make another large batch of your crockpot caramelized onions to keep through the winter to dole out on pizzas, etc.

    Reply
    • Yeah! I’m getting ready to do some too Heidi. Great idea on the meats too. That will definitely make things go quicker.

      Reply
  7. My past partner used to say…leave the workplace approaches in the workplace! But I cannot resist any approach that saves time or effort whether home or at work. I roast a generous selection and amount of veggies so I can make yummy soups. Just made my first one in months – the weather is changing and the motivation is rising.

    Reply
    • Oh, I did that today Amy – you should see it. Roasted onions, eggplant, tomatoes, garlic, carrots and red pepper. Now it’s all pureed and ready to become a fast meal tomorrow. I love that type of meal.

      Reply
  8. I freeze single portions of soups and stews for quick meals. I wish my hubby would let me get a freezer for the garage so I could preserve more food.

    Reply
    • I sometimes feel the same way but I also know what an extra fridge in the garage costs in energy and it can be a significant add-on. We always had that when I was growing up.

      Reply
  9. I have nominated you for The Versatile Blogger award! I got nominated and now it is my turn for nominating other bloggers. Thank you so much for your support, Tammy! Check out more information here: http://lindsaymcnamara.wordpress.com/2013/08/25/the-versatile-blogger-award/

    Reply
  10. oooh roasting in batches is something I didn’t even think of. The flavors sound so yummy

    Reply
  11. I have never heard of that kind of sandbagging. I love the look of all your vegetables, especially the tomatoes. It seems you are super-organised and very prepared for the change of seasons xx

    Reply
  12. Sapna

     /  August 25, 2013

    Definitely a smart (and satisfying) move. I cook and freeze Indian dishes, ranging from lentils to vegetable and meat curries. Indian dishes in general freeze well and the spices have a chance to really mix.

    Reply
  13. Sandbagging in this instance makes so much sense. I love that you freeze your own vegetables Tammy :)

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  14. Such great idea, we always do this sort of things before winter arrives. It’s an extra little happiness to be able to taste summer while it’s snowing outside!

    Reply
  15. I say that it’s perfectly fine to do whatever will enable you to take advantage of the summer’s abundance given the limited time you have. As someone who hasn’t ventured into true canning, I have done my fair share of preparing produce then putting it in the freezer in Anchor glass containers.

    Reply
  16. I love the look of those tomatoes!

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  17. Lisa H

     /  August 27, 2013

    I prefer freezing to canning, it is so much faster. I love freezing squashes, as they hold up well in the freezer. If I make a meal, I double the recipe and freeze half so I can free up a night later in the month. It’s great that you are thinking ahead. There is a certain joy and sense of accomplishment when the frozen pre-prepped food thaws and is then added to a meal.
    P.S. I like to add pureed butternut squash to homemade mac and cheese. It adds a tad of sweetness, deepens the color, and gets a couple extra veggies in the kids. Oh, and it tastes great!

    Reply
  18. I’ve grown up with an ideal of achievement and performance but not competition, so I’m used to compete with myself but not with others. Creates a lot of pressure anyway. :P

    Your roasted veggies look great! I do the same – prepare a lot of stuff and freeze it for later. Often it’s just cooked beans, but I also freeze readily cooked meals. Makes dinner preparation very easy! :)

    Reply
  19. Wow thanks for the reminder about the leaching with the plastic. I will be lots more careful about how I cool my vegetables when I blanch them. Happy canning and freezing and such. I have too much left from last year, so I have actually been selling some this year. It isn’t much, but I have paid for the seeds I used this year, and hopefully I will get a little stash for next year, that is really all I need in the sales department. Mostly I have been giving away extras. I always feel that is my way of donating or giving back to others.

    Reply
  20. Author Jane Ward

     /  August 28, 2013

    Great tips. If you are still on a lunch box ideas quest, how do your boys feel about soups? I used to send mine with a hot foods thermos every once in a while. Mostly, though, they liked a few things and stuck with them, and saved the variety for dinner time.

    Reply
  21. I definitely believe that it is not sandbagging to preserve your veggies while they are in season. Not all vegetables do well with freezing or canning, so it makes sense to preserve the ones that you can so that they don’t spoil.

    Reply

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