I’d like to welcome Brenda from Meal Planning Magic to the blog today. Brenda loves to teach others all about menu planning and has a fantastic menu planning resources section on her blog that you don’t want to miss. Today though Brenda is joining us here to help us organize our freezers. Welcome Brenda!
When I began my meal planning journey several years ago I didn’t give much thought to how things were going to be figured out. I just knew I’d need to have a system of some kind that worked for me. Freezer cooking was one of the first things I took to right away—with a toddler at home I needed a way to get healthy meals on the table quickly. Since then, “feeding” my freezer has become a way of life. Here are the top five things that help me keep it organized:
What can you freeze?
I get this question a lot. The answer is “just about everything!” People are surprised to learn that I shred and freeze my own block cheese, cut up fruit, and of course prepared meals ready to pull out, heat and serve. It is recommended that items remain in the freezer no more than three months, on average, to avoid quality issues.
Choose the right containers.
To make the most of your freezer space, choose containers that work for you. For some that may mean plastic modular containers. Others like using zip-top bags stacked on end like in a bookshelf. Other items can be frozen in dishes that can go straight into the oven. Personal preference makes a difference too. I like to store liquids like soups in modular containers—they are easier for me to heat and serve.
I’m sure I’m not the only one to throw something in the freezer and think, “I’ll remember what that is” only to discover months later that that I did not remember! I personally love the reusable labels from Label Once. They adhere to a lid and will not come off in the freezer or dishwasher. When it’s time to reuse your container, just erase the contents and date and write on the new information.
Now that your items are labeled, you’ll want to log what goes into the freezer (saving energy with fewer door openings to see what’s in there). I created a form that helps me find what I’m looking for more easily. It has four categories: Prepared Meals, Fruits & Vegetables, Dairy/Nuts/Bread/Other and Meats/Fish. Don’t forget to date it too! When it comes time for meal planning, just grab your list and scan it to find out what you have on hand and choose your recipe accordingly.
We have a medium chest-style deep freezer. In it I have some plastic crates to help me organize it into compartments. I’ve divided the freezer into “zones” that correlate to my log sheet. For example, the upper right crate holds fruits and veggies like the blueberries we pick every summer or sliced bell peppers that I got on sale. To help others find things in the freezer, I came up with a diagram taped to the top of the freezer that shows the crates and what is contained in each.
It’s easy to get organized in the kitchen when you have a few tricks up your sleeve!
Brenda is a mom, freelance writer and self-taught meal planner. Her blog, Meal Planning Magic, provides ideas on how to get organized in the kitchen, save a little money, eat healthier (and family friendly) and have a little fun along the way. She shares free weekly sample meal plans, cookbook reviews, forms for keeping it all straight, ideas, and inspiration!