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Mealtimes are often the heart of our family gatherings. What we eat, and even more importantly, what we serve to our loved ones, leaves a lasting impression. For many of us home-cooks, we take pride in healthy ingredients and thoughtful portions. How we store our little “love on a plate” does matter. Using the tips below, you can create a healthy food environment that allows for convenient storage and quick prep time. All our good meal intentions will fall short if we can’t find it in our freezer!
How we organize our freezer truly does make a difference. We already know that an organized freezer saves on prep and cook time, but it also can save you money at the local grocery store. After all, part of saving money on groceries is knowing what you already have and that’s hard if you don’t keep your freezer organized! As a reminder for those items, we need to replenish. Any organization task is for naught if we do not start with a clean pallet. It is critical that you rid your freezer of ice and old food before you begin.
To start, maximize your freezer space by defrosting the freezer and thoroughly cleaning it out. To maintain the efficiency of a manual-defrost freezer, in general, it should be defrosted each time it develops a quarter inch of ice build-up on the interior walls. Starting with a clean environment, free of smells, crumbs, and ice will allow you to maximize every inch.
Bins are the key to helping you keep things organized and categorized. Group like foods together. For instance, as summer approaches you may want to bin your popsicles, ice cream, and other summertime treats. A lot of what you store such as, frozen burritos, popsicles, veggies or ice cream don’t exactly remain neatly in the freezer. A trick to use to keep these items wrangled is to utilize labeled bins. You can store bulky or odd-shaped items in catch-all bins. Using labels will help you identify the contents and keep you organized — especially when you group food items together by type.
Use binder or chip clips to seal veggie bags, then hang them from the freezer shelves so they’re easier to find. This is an excellent way to view the item without having to clump several open bags together. They hang nicely and neatly and are just a grab away. I might add, that dating the open bags is also essential for freshness and quality. Date the packages and utilize the FIFO (first in, first out) method to ensure that the oldest items are used first.
If you have a small freezer-on-top situation, consider pulling out the shelving and seeing what happens! Replace the shelves with clear stackable organizing bins and containers that allow you to maximize space and still give you a clear view of what’s available. Shelving can be a hindrance when trying to store large items such as a ham or turkey, so you’re better off without them.
Magazine holders are the PERFECT size to store sauces, soups, and meals. They can be stored standing up or laid flat on its side. Add a laminated note card or mailing label on the outside to indicate its contents.
Use gallon or quart size freezer storage bags to store liquid items, such as soups and sauces, either flat or horizontal. This will allow you to use only an inch or two of space, then put them into magazine holders to keep them together by category. Using magazine holders can also be helpful when planning weekly food prep for lunches or dinners. Try using one tray for each day (lunch and dinner). You can easily store leftovers for lunch use later in the week.
It’s a good idea to try to pack in as many items as you possibly can. I know that sounds counter-intuitive but it’s actually smart. The more you have in your freezer, the easier it is (and less energy it takes) to keep food cold, since the frozen food itself acts as a chilly friend. Even if you don’t have enough stuff to fill your freezer you can still be energy conscious by filling plastic water bottles or jugs (about 75 percent full) and adding them in to fill the freezer space. The frozen water bottles also come in handy when needed for cuts, burns or swelling, or if you plan on taking a hot summer hike. Just throw a few in your backpack and off you go. The bottles will keep you cool as you walk and once melted, a refreshing drink!
Joyce Colovas is a Content Associate at mDesign
and an avid lover of all things fun and frivolous.
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Aug 2, 2019
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