2. Organize by food type.
Back in university, when I was sharing a freezer with four other housemates, we had to organize the freezer efficiently to fit everything in. This meant cramming in items based on their shape or size. Living on my own, I am realizing that it is best to group similar foods together, i.e. all my meat in one section, frozen fruit together in another, etc. This leads to less rooting through trying to find a particular item and allows me to see just how much of that category I have so I don’t overbuy.
Some freezers have built-in shelving, which is great, but not always enough. Adding extra shelving is simple and makes the space easier to organize. Plate shelves from the Dollar Store can be added to create additional levels, and plastic containers can help keep items from falling over the place. Organization like this is helpful because it means you don’t have to play Jenga every time you want something from the bottom of the pile and makes venturing into the freezer less of a chore. It also helps make organizing by food type easier.
I’m not just talking about labeling what a food is (although I have been known to play the “guess what unidentifiable frozen food this is” game), but when it was frozen. I used to think that frozen food was good indefinitely, but this obviously isn’t true (hello freezer burn!). While freezing prolongs the use for food, it doesn’t mean it lasts forever. Labeling food with a date allows me to know which food to use up first, and if there is anything I should get rid of. Ideally, I will get to a point where I am systematically eating up food in the right order and can avoid food waste (which is generally the point of freezing food in the first place). I have also started being meticulous about writing instructions for freezer meals, so that I don’t have to play a guessing game every time I make a meal I had previously prepared.
5. Freezing fruit separately before putting it into a storage container.
I’m a sucker for smoothies, so I often buy extra on-sale fruit to freeze and use for making them, which saves having to spend more money on pre-packed, pre-sliced frozen fruit. However, more often than not, the fruit I froze becomes an impenetrable block that practically requires a chisel to separate. To remedy this, I started freezing fruit on a baking tray first. I just spread sliced fruit on a parchment paper-lined tray so that the pieces don’t touch. Pop the tray in the freezer, and once they have frozen enough (usually only a couple of hours), transfer them to a storage container. While this may seem more time-consuming initially, I have found that is saves time (and frustration) in the mornings.
My current goal is to eat through the food in my freezer before replenishing it. This is hard for me because I am frugal-as-hell, and when I see something on sale, I stock up. It’s as if I have some weird fear that if I don’t buy something while it is on sale now, it will never go on sale again, and I’ll end up paying full price. But I’ve come to recognize that sales work on a cycle, and discounts will come around again. Buying too much actually resulted in having to throw away freezer-burned food, which is a waste of both food and money. I’m hoping that getting into the habit of using my freezer more methodically will foster better buying and consumption habits.