I have mentioned in past posts that a simple solution to a tight schedule is a freezer full of prepared meals for our parrots. Life can be chaotic sometimes and I have, on occasion, woken up to find the refrigerator empty. I hate having to run out to the supermarket first thing in the morning to buy the produce that I had forgotten to get the day before. My hungry birds aren’t wild about that either.
During a trip to Whole Foods this week, I found the produce to be a peak condition, something which it is usually not. I stocked up on veggies, pasta and grains with the intention of preparing a gazillion meals to freeze for future use. When I got home, I dragged out several pots, the food processor and the vacuum sealer and got to work making a chop mix filled with a variety of ingredients that covered a bird’s every nutritional need in one convenient meal.
- Calabaza squash
- Carrots (with tops)
- Red and green bell peppers
- Red chili peppers
- Brown rice
- 16 bean soup mix (beans only)
- Spiral veggie pasta
I had already planned to cook beans for the birds that day, so I’d had them soaking over night. I rinsed them covered them with water and set them on the stove to cook. I separately cooked the quinoa, rice and barley and boiled the pasta and set it all aside to cool while I chopped the veggies for the food processor. I hand grated the squash and zucchini to provide a bit of texture and set them aside in a strainer while they released their liquid.
There are two things that make these meals last a long time in the freezer. One is letting the veggies drain thoroughly before mixing them with the other ingredients before packaging them for freezing. It keeps ice crystals from forming and prevents freezer burning. The other trick is to vacuum seal the bags. A decent vacuum sealer can be purchased for under $50 and will become a valuable staple in your kitchen with a variety of uses.
There are absolutely no rules or boundaries to this recipe. You may choose to add more grains, beans and pasta, and can utilize just about every veggie (or fruit) under the sun. You may choose to chop your mix more coarsely.
I generally select a finer chop because it can be served to all sizes of birds, but sometimes I will add larger chunks of food to the bowls of the bigger birds. Another advantage to the finer chop is that it sticks to other foods and often unknowingly gets eaten. To get my umbrella cockatoo started, I dampened a wheel of corn and rolled it in the chop mix. He had no choice but to eat the mix to get to the corn.
A varied diet is the best way to ensure that your bird’s dietary needs are being met. There really isn’t a more healthy and well rounded meal you can serve to your birds than this mix or one like it. With this last batch, my bird’s needs should be covered until mid-year 2017.