Freezers have the tendency to get messy over a long period of time, so it’s always a good idea to organise your freezer so that everything is easier to find.
This is one of the main points of Once a Month Cooking, but it’s still important even if you use your freezer in the normal way. If your freezer has been slowly collecting food for awhile, here are some tips to help you get organised, allowing you to save space and make room for more recent additions. Remember an organised freezer saves you money!!!!
Take everything out
Start by removing everything that’s already in the freezer. This makes it easier to take stock of what you already have, what can be thrown out, and what needs to be kept. To keep all your food from thawing, make sure you do this quickly and set aside enough time to do the whole job in one sitting. If you have to run out of the house to pick up the kids, you’ll just come back to a bunch of puddles and piles of partially frozen food. If you have an esky, it’s handy to pop the food in there to keep it cold until you can re-pack it.
Decide What to Keep
Don’t throw anything out without checking the expiration date first. Obviously, frozen foods have a much longer shelf life than unfrozen goods, so you might want to check online to see what the frozen expiration dates for a lot of foods are. This will also help you sort out leftovers, since they don’t come with an indicator of when they should be eaten. If you aren’t doing it already, start writing the date on the containers when you put them in the freezer.
Repackage what you are keeping
To save space, you might want to put some items in different packages. For example, a box of frozen hamburgers that’s half full could be transferred to a freezer bag, which also makes them easier to stack. For raw ingredients like meat, fish, or poultry, break down large quantities into serving sizes and freeze them like that. This way, when it comes time to thaw, you don’t have to defrost 2 kilos of chicken just to get enough for one meal.
Again, write the date of purchase/freezing on all of these bags so you can keep them organised.
If you have a chest freezer, perhaps look at investing in a few more baskets to keep the food organised. You can usually purchase these online.
Pack similar items with each other
When you’re ready to put the food back into the freezer, do it by category so that it’s easier to find one particular food item. Put the frozen vegetables in one place, such as the door, have the meats in a separate location, and ice cream or snacks in another. If you have a label maker it’s good to label the drawers in your freezer (if you have them) so you know what goes where!
If your freezer is too small to do this properly, make stacks of each food type as well as you can. I’d also suggest giving your freezer a good cleaning before putting the food back in.
If you freezer is a bit smelly – add a bit of vanilla extract to your cloth when wiping it out – it will eliminate odour and make your freezer smell lovely. Also, a small container or open box of bicarb soda will keep your freezer from giving off that awful freezer-burn smell!