Organizing the deep freeze
We depend heavily on our deep freeze for storing quick meals, preserving the harvest from our own garden and from the farmers market and storing various components to a meal that make dinner prep faster. Over the years I have learned a few tricks that have helped us keep our freezer better organized and a better resource for meals.
1. Bake everything in large quantities and store the extra in the freezer. Nothing is better than bread fresh out of the oven, but warmed from the freezer comes in second. Large one gallon size ziplock freezer bags seem to work best for breads and baked goods. Freeze tortillas, waffles, pancakes flat- then store on their side once frozen. We slice our bread loaves and stack in sets of two slices in gallon zip lock bags. We pull the two slices out for sandwiches and toast. Cookies and brownies also freeze well in gallon ziplock bags.
2. Rubbermaid Take Along Series Tupperware containers are my favorite storage containers for liquids and vegetables. The shallow square version comfortably holds 2 cups- a perfection proportion for us. They stack great and don’t topple over. I prefer having dozen’s of the same size storage containers for the freezer instead of different sizes and shapes. By using the same size for all freezer items, I’m able to keep the freezer better organized and keep the containers from falling over when stacked high. I have close to a 100 of these containers. I have used them for over a year and even though they are very inexpensive they have held up great. I use these containers for chicken broth, cooked beans, chopped vegetables, sauces and soups. For labeling, painters tape holds up great with the freezing temperatures (thanks to April for this great tip!).
3. Ziplock one quart freezer bags are perfect for storage when stacking them sideways in a basket like hanging file folders. Place the food in the freezer bag, then lay flat to freeze. Once frozen, stack sideways so it is easy to see the contents. We store berries, chopped fruits and vegetables and cooked meats in quart size bags. It is quick to see what is available and easy to store in hanging baskets.
4. Inventory. I don’t keep an inventory in our freezer, but divide our freezer into sections so I can quickly see which areas are well stocked and which areas are running low. Each week I visually check to see what we are running low on and plan my cooking around what needs restocking. I divide our freezer into the following sections:
1. Meats (raw and cooked), broths, sauces and cooked beans
2. Dinners that just need to be heated (soups, spaghetti sauce, enchiladas, casseroles)
5. Breads and desserts
6. Dairy products
5. Stock up when prices are low. I stock our freezer when items go on sale or when the product is at the peak of their season. We buy large quantities of pork and make sausage when pork is on sale. We chopped 4 heads of celery when it is on sale and store in the freezer to later use in soups and pot roasts, we make chicken broth when chicken goes on sale, etc. By stocking up when the prices are low, we are able to save a substantial amount on our groceries. Plus it makes dinner prep much faster when the celery and carrots are already chopped and the corn just needs to be heated.
We are always modifying and adjusted our routine in the kitchen to find more productive ways to prepare and store food. I would love to hear of any ideas you have found helpful.