Your freezer can be your coolest friend and a big help when it comes to saving money. I’d say we visit our trusty freezer at least daily for meal components or ingredients. I find that having an organized freezer makes our lives (and meal prep) so much easier.
Here are some of my tips for organizing and maximizing your freezer space:
1.) Freeze items flat. I like to put a lot of items in freezer bags. If it’s a liquid, it’s going to sink all to the bottom of the bag and create a big “blob” of frozen food. Lay your foods flat to freeze – and if you’re really particular, you can even separate the bags by pieces of cardboard as they freeze. This keeps the bags from freezing together or getting goofy grooves. Once they are frozen flat, stand them up on edge.
2.) Use boxes for storing flat items. Once my bags are frozen flat, I like to store them up on end, in boxes. Shoe boxes are great for quart size bags. And I bet you can find a box for your gallon size bags too. If the box is too tall, cut the top off of boxes so you can see what’s inside. You can pull the box out and flip through it like a filing cabinet. It’s so easy. If you want to be really fancy you can buy plastic bins and label them more permanently.
3.) Store similar items together. Make it easy on yourself. Develop a little system for where you store items, for example all the fruits and vegetables in one drawer or keep all the meat on one shelf. This hopefully means you won’t be digging to the darkest depths of your freezer looking for a particular item.
4.) Label everything. Keep a permanent marker right by the freezer. Do not put anything into the freezer that you haven’t labeled with what it is and a date for when it was prepared.
5.) Rotate items as you put them in. Move older freezer meals to the front, newer ones to the back. When you go to grab something – make a point to grab the oldest item.
6.) Throw out stuff you won’t use. If it’s been at least six months and you haven’t even considered the leftover meatloaf you have in your freezer, wouldn’t that space be better served with something you are more likely to eat?
My favorite things to have in my freezer:
- Homemade chicken broth - I love making up a batch of slow cooker chicken broth and freezing it in bags or Snap-ware for future recipes.
- Shredded cheese – I like to buy cheese in bulk and freeze in quart size bags. This works especially well for shredded varieties, as block cheese tends to crumble after being frozen.
- Fruits and vegetables – Save big on produce by purchasing things like peppers when they are at a stock-up price and freeze
- Pre-made meals, a.k.a. freezer meals - These are a lifesaver on busy days or when we get the urge to eat out.
- Components to meals - This is covered in some of these other bullets – but think about the meals you make the most and see what you can make ahead of time. Pre-made enchilada mix, plain shredded chicken, slow cooker refried beans, cheese, broth, pre-washed/chopped fruit (like pineapple) – get them diced, prepped and made ahead of time to time.
I’d love to hear from you – how do you maximize your freezer space and what are some of your favorite things to freeze?! Please leave a comment and let me know.