If you take a few minutes to pack your freezer properly, you will be able to pack more things and your freezer will work much better. You should keep in mind that the freezer works most efficiently when air circulation between and around the packages is kept to the minimum. You should aim to freeze food into blocks wherever possible. You don’t need to buy hundreds of containers to achieve it. You can place a polythene freezer bag inside the container and fill it with whatever you wish to freeze. After the food is frozen, you remove the bag from the container, and stack the block neatly. Don’t forget to write on the bag the contents and the date it was frozen, so that you can keep track.
If you want to freeze a cooked casserole dish, you can line the dish with aluminum foil and open freeze it. Once frozen, you remove the dish and use it again. The frozen food is placed in a freezer bag, labeled and sealed. When you wish to thaw the dish at a later date, you can just place it again in the dish it was originally cooked in. Or better still, you can cook the casserole in an aluminum dish. When it is cold, you can either wrap everything in aluminum foil, or place the dish in a polythene freezer bag, label it and freeze it.
If you have a chest freezer, it is a little difficult to find everything you want without having to dig deep, and sometimes missing it. You could use a colour code. The clips or the twists that you close the bags with. You could have red for meat, blue for chicken, orange for turkey, green for vegetables. It will really make your life much easier in the long run. You could also use labels in different colors so that you know what is what.
As we tend to forget what exactly we have in the freezer, it is a good idea to keep a ‘journal’. You don’t need anything fancy, a plain exercise book will do. Divide it in as many sections as you need, and perhaps a miscellaneous one and jot down the date and a description of the packet you have popped into your freezer. Every time you take out something, cross out the relevant entry. This way you will know if, say, you are low on chicken, or beef etc. so that you can buy some more.
Buying in bulk is a great way to save money. However, never buy anything that you wouldn’t have bought at its regular price, because then it won’t be a bargain. Whatever you buy, is food that you and your family really like. And always remember how much space you have in your freezer. If you bring home a large amount of anything, and half of it doesn’t fit in your freezer, then you will either have to sit and eat it before it spoils, or you’ll have to throw it away.
Don’t let all this intimidate you. Once you get the hang of it, it will be as easy as pie. You will be more organized and you won’t have to resort to pre-cooked food full of preservatives or takeaways of doubtful quality.
Next week: How to freeze dairy products & vegetables