Help! Food has taken over my freezer! Freezer de-cluttering tips
Thanks to that cute little ground hog named Phil, we’re supposed to be getting an early spring this year. So, I’ve decided to take this opportunity to start my spring cleaning early and the first items on my list? The dreaded freezers!!!
I absolutely love having a deep freeze and a top freezer in my fridge as it allows me to stock up on many food items which saves us lots of money throughout the year. The problem is that I have absolutely no idea what is actually in my deep freeze right now as it is literally overflowing with food stacked from floor to lid! It’s like playing Jenga every time I need to pull something out…”you take a frozen chicken from the bottom and you put it on top, you take a roast from the middle and you put it on top.” Not to mention, the three dozen frozen bananas I have stored in there for when I decide to bake those 100 banana muffins I’ve been saying I’d make for the last year.
I’ve also been wanting to make weekly meal plans but it’s hard to do when you have no idea what is actually available to you in the freezer. ”Hmmmm, so we’ll have steak on Monday if there is steak in the freezer, and ham on Tuesday if I manage to find the time to spend 30 minutes digging to the bottom of the freezer to find it.” Doesn’t work. Clearly something had to be done.
So, this weekend I learned about what kind of “freezer person” I am by facing and defeating my mortal enemies (the freezers) with a few simple ideas to help maximize and organize them both.
1. Make an itemized list of everything in your deep freeze. When I open up my deep freeze, I can see that I have some ribs, a few pizza crusts, and a bag of beans but what the heck is three feet below these things?
I don’t have the time to lug out 100 pounds of frozen food every time I need to see what I need to add to my grocery list. And I can’t tell you how many times I have gone out to buy a ham or chicken at full price only to discover the following week that I had two of them buried at the bottom of my freezer! So I pulled out everything made a list of what was in my freezer. That way, if I am making my weekly meal plan or grocery list, I simply look at the list taped to the deep freeze and I know exactly what I have . If I use something in the freezer, I simply white it out and if I buy something, I just add it to the list. I’m still waiting for someone to invent a see-through deep freeze… Hmm, maybe I should just go on Dragon’s Den with this great concept minus a prototype, blue print or sales… Think they’ll invest? Tee-hee.
2. Turn those bread end pieces into breadcrumbs. Okay, so I know that most people never eat the end pieces of bread and my mother taught me years ago that the best way to use these end pieces is to throw them in the freezer and then use them to make bread crumbs later. The problem with this is that over time, those end pieces are forgotten and accumulate, ending up taking up precious room in your freezer. So I came up with a solution: Make the bread crumbs with the end pieces BEFORE you throw them in the freezer. That way they are ready to use when you need them and they take up a fraction of the space. As I had found about 12 bags of end pieces this weekend, I pulled out the food processor and made one big bag of bread crumbs that I then put back in the freezer, saving me tons of room and hassle.
3. Don’t overstock your freezer. Only store food items in your top freezer that you plan on using in the next three months. Turns out those fridge freezers do not keep food frozen as long as deep freezers do. In fact, they only keep food for about three months compared to a deep freeze that can keep food for close to a year. So make sure to store the freezer food you use on a regular basis in the top fridge freezer and keep the larger and less used items in the deep freeze. For instance, I kept the frozen turkey and big box of chicken in the deep freeze and moved my steaks, sausage and salmon portions as well as frozen vegetables into the top fridge freezer because we create meals out of these on a regular basis. Note: if you really want to maximize your deep freeze capacity, DO NOT buy two large turkeys just because they are on sale! I did this last Thanksgiving thinking I would make them in the next couple of months and guess what…they are still in my freezer! I’ve since realized that there are several opportunities to get cheap turkeys through the year…Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter…so there is no need to stock up on them unless you really plan on using them soon!
4. Don’t freeze food items unless you’re really going to use them! I don’t know how many times I’ve made dinner and had plenty of leftovers and so, instead of just planning to eat them over the next couple of days, I have packaged them up and thrown them in the freezer thinking to myself, “Great. I will simply pull these out later and use them for another dinner. How smart am I?” Answer: Not very smart!
There are some smart people out there who have the memory and diligence to make food, freeze it and then pull it out later for dinner … I am not one of these people! I thought I was until I went through my freezers, only to discover Tupperware containers filled with lasagne, chilli and spaghetti that I think I made about 2 years ago! So,be honest with yourself and, if you are like me, don’t freeze your leftovers as they will only end up wastefully thrown in the garbage. (Sorry Mr. Landfill…I promise to eat my leftovers from now on!)
Deep freezers and fridge freezer are wonderful creations but only if you know how to use them properly based on what kind of person you are. For those of you like me who really haven’t been using them properly, I hope some of these tips will help you de-clutter and make better use of your freezers. If you have any other freezer tips, I would love to hear them.
Coupon Tip of the Week: Following the theme of freezers, it can be very economical to stock up on meat items when they’re on sale but make sure to only buy what you will use in the next 2-3 months. Otherwise, you run the risk of buying too much and having that meat get freezer burned and going bad before you get a chance to use it. Remember, there are always sales going on each month so you don’t have to worry that you didn’t buy enough chicken breasts just when they were on for such a good price because they will be on sale again next month!