May 09, 2016

Vinny's recipe for succes!

It's been a while since we've made a batch of freezer-food, as we call it. Basically this is a large batch of mixed rice, pasta, beans, corn, miscellaneous vegetables and sometimes some fruits or sprouts. This all started out mainly as a bean mix, but recently we've been deviating from the original mix more and more.

The mix is now a healthy mix of avocado, coffee beans, chocolate, gummy bears, cheese, onions, lots of garlic, fried chicken, french fries and some raw eggs.

No! I'm just kidding. 

Those are pretty much the worst foods you can give to your parrot. If you are in doubt about which foods are healthy for your (particular kind of) parrot, Google it. Find forums that talk about healthy parrot foods. They are usually a rich source of information, as long as you don't go by just one opinion, but try to find the general consensus. And if you're still not sure, call a vet or a parrot expert. They will gladly advise you.

Our mix as stated below is a mix of what we know are good for Eclectus parrots. But we do keep in mind that this mix by itself by far is not enough to call a full diet. On a daily basis it needs to be supplemented with fresh foods and vegetables, a good seed mix, fresh sprouts and healthy snacks. This mix is just a decent base food. 

We also left out certain juice/water rich fruits and vegetables that don't freeze well. Leafy vegetables like spinach are well loved by Vinny as well, but are no good to freeze.

Please note that this mix, or the idea of pre-making small batches of food is not new. We wrote about making batches like this before, in the early days of this blog, for example in this post from June 2012. And of course many people have done this before us.

So, the basic idea is simple. You throw a whole bunch of healthy ingredients together, you mix well, you take little scoops and fill little bags, then put those little bags in the freezer to be taken back out one by one to be defrosted and given to your parrot. And if you have multiple parrots that all eat the same food, more bags.. ehh power to you!

We've been talking about giving you the run-down of what goes into making a batch like this. So here it is, the exact ingredients of today's batch, and how it's made.

Normally we do this with the two of us, but Vinny's 'mommy' is out of the country at the moment, so I did this by myself and obviously it took me quite a bit longer. This batch took me about 1.5 hours, but I didn't hurry and was watching TV while doing the bagging up.

The ingredients we used:
  • 1 kg (2 lbs) brown rice
  • 500 gr (1 lb) whole wheat macaroni
  • 1 cans (600 gr / just over 1 lb) corn, drained
  • 1 jar (350 gr / 12 oz) pre-boiled peas, drained
  • 1 jar (250 gr / 9 oz) pre-boiled white beans, washed and drained
  • 250 gr (9 oz) pre-boiled brown beans, washed and drained
  • 2 bags (total almost 2 lbs) of veggie mix from grocery store *
  • 1 large or 2 small zucchini's, diced
The vegetable mix bags were simply stir-fry mixes that contained (and I quote from the bags): red paprika, green beans, kidney beans, cabbage, leek and corn.

We use a plastic tub approximately the size of a kitchen sink to mix everything in. Using a 1/2 cup measuring cup, we managed to get 70 bags out of this amount, but depending on the size of your parrot and how much he/she eats on average, you can put a bit more or less on 1 bag.

Either way, you should end up with 2-3 months of food for one parrot.

The freezer bags are very simple small or medium size light-weight bags that come 80-in-a-box. The ones we use are a bit too large, but they're easy to close by tying a knot in them, then we cut off excess plastic.

So, the whole run-down goes as follows:
  1. clean the tub/container/bowl well. Disinfect it if you see fit, or wash well.
  2. Start boiling the brown rice and whole wheat macaroni. Follow the instructions on the packing in case you're not sure how to do this. We boil the pasta till it's 'al dente'. Any shape of pasta will do, but small standard elbow macaroni is easier to mix and bag. 
  3. In the mean time mix the rest of the ingredients together in the tub/container/bowl.
  4. Add in the boiled pasta and rice after it has cooled down for a little while. 
  5. Mix it well, with your hands (wash them well first, or use clean gloves) or with a large spool
  6. Find a comfortable spot. On the couch in front of the TV works, or at the kitchen table with family or friends (for good conversation). 
  7. Use a 1/2 cup or 1/3 cup or a table spoon to put scoops into the freezer bags
  8. Close the freezer bags
  9. Put them into larger bags (in our case, 15 per zip-lock bag)
  10. Put them in the freezer (but leave 1-2 out for immediate or next-day consumption). If you're in doubt about the power of your freezer, put half in the freezer first and half in the fridge. Then add the fridge-half to the freezer the next day.
  11. Feel satisfied that you made it easier for you for a while to come. Reward yourself with a nice glass of whatever your favorite beverage is. Well done.
Taking a break half way through
the bagging process
Further notes and thoughts:
  • The amounts listed above are far from exact science. We just put together these ingredients in these amounts because that is how they were packed. Just try to balance it out. 
  • Try to find these foods fresh, or in case of jars/cans/packs/bags, make sure you use ones with the least amount of additives. None of our ingredients had additives, except for a tiny bit of salt in the cans of corn. Use organic/natural foods if they are available. 
  • Once you take them out of the freezer to be used, put them in the refrigerator to thaw. This takes longer, but try to think a day ahead. After thawed, we use them within 2 days for freshness. If we haven't used them after 2 days, we usually throw them out and get new ones out from the freezer.
  • Make sure you work in a clean environment and please do wash your hands before starting. If you put anything spicy such as peppers or jalapenos in the mix, do not rub your eyes if you've touched them with bare hands. Trust me, I've made this mistake before. Wash your hands thoroughly. 
  • Feel free to experiment by adding extra ingredients that your parrot likes and that are healthy. A good idea is to add already-frozen fruits, like berries and pomegranate that you get from the freezer section of your supermarket.
And well, that's basically it. Vinny just eats it up, literally! Usually he eats the pasta and beans first, then goes for the rest. Fruits are usually saved for last.

If you have any further questions, tips, comments or remarks, please do speak up below. For example, what do you usually add to a batch that isn't listed above?

Have fun!