With the holidays right around the corner, getting your freezer organized will not only help you when it comes to preparing festive meals and snacks but it will also make sure that you aren’t unnecessarily wasting food. Proper refrigerator and freezer techniques can help to make sure that your holiday leftovers stay fresh, and provide for many delicious “leftover” meals in the days and weeks ahead.
If you’re ready to tackle the frozen tundra of your refrigerator’s freezer, read ahead for some of our favorite freezer organization tips!
Freezer Organization Tips: Know What You Can and Can’t Freeze
When you throw anything and everything into the freezer, you end up with a cold, frozen mess of foods that may not survive defrosting. Some things simply cannot, or should not, be frozen. These items include foods like raw lettuce and leafy vegetables, “wet” fruits like watermelon (although watermelon juice or puree can be frozen for smoothies), dairy such as milk, yogurt or cream-based sauces, raw eggs, and coffee. In addition, some cooked foods do not fare well when stored in the freezer. Seared or roasted meats should not be frozen alone but rather with plenty of braising liquid, stock or gravy. The same holds true for pasta. Frozen cooked pasta on its own defrosts into a mushy mess, but when it’s frozen with plenty of sauce (think frozen lasagna) and “natural juices” – the reheated leftover tastes just as good, if not better, than the initial meal!
Food items that are perfect for the freezer include any baked or bakery type foods: muffins, bread, pancakes, waffles, pizza dough… you can freeze and reheat bakery items that are already made (perfect for a grab-and-go breakfast) or you can freeze the dough for a “fresh batch” any time you like without the additional preparation time. In addition to baked goods, stocks and broths are also well suited for the freezer as are soups and stews, frozen fruits and vegetables, and all uncooked meat, fish, and poultry.
Freezer Organization Tips: Freeze by portions!
You’ll save lots of time and plenty of space when you freeze your leftovers in easy to use portions. You might feel like throwing the entire platter of leftover turkey straight into the freezer, but you’ll regret this later when you want a few pieces to add to a soup or sandwich (and you’re faced with a frozen mass of turkey meat). Instead, grab a few freezer bags or containers and portion out the leftovers into sizes that you can use within a day or two.
Freezer Organization Tips: Freeze things flat!
The best way to maximize freezer space and keep things organized is to use freezer bags that keep your frozen leftovers as flat as possible. This works great for soups, stews and sauces. When the freezer bags are flat, they are easier to stack and keep organized.
Freezer Organization Tips: Good packaging eliminates freezer burn.
Chances are, if you don’t wrap your food well to protect it from air before placing it in the freezer, it will develop freezer burn and taste less than appetizing. If you’re storing leftovers in plastic bags, be sure to use the thicker ones designed for the freezer and try to remove as much of the air from the bag as possible before sealing. If you are using aluminum foil, which can be ideal for reheating bread or baked goods, be sure to double wrap. Freezing in glass jars or containers can be done, especially if you want to avoid plastic, but it can crack, so be sure to exercise caution when using this method.
Freezer Organization Tips: Divide up the space.
You may want to consider investing in a few freezer storage bins to help you create space and keep your different food categories organized. Unless you’re wearing winter gloves, digging around in the freezer looking for that cookie dough / bag of frozen vegetables / leftover marinara sauce can be a bit painful (not to mention cold!) When you organize your freezer, you’ll find what you want faster and eliminate frostbite on your fingertips!
Freezer Organization Tips: Re-think your freezer door!
Since the freezer door is the warmest place in the freezer, it’s the best place to store items like ice packs, bags of ice cubes, liquor, juice concentrate, nuts and flours. Ice cream should be stored in the body of the freezer – not the door – to maintain freshness and the best flavor.
Ready to get organized?
Have we inspired you to tackle your freezer and get it organized for the holidays? With a little bit of effort and preparation, you’ll have plenty of room to store leftovers and enjoy your favorite holiday recipes through the winter months. Do you have tips and strategies for keeping your freezer organized? If so, share them in the comments section or post them to our Facebook or Pinterest pages!