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The Defrosting Game...15 containers to unveil themselves

I hate to throw away food and almost always save a serving (or two) of leftovers from dinner, or some extra of a side or soup, extra meat, etc.

So, now I find myself with a freezer full of containers filled with mystery something or other (I was not that organized to label everything, maybe something I will start doing).

Today, I am going to start defrosting a few at a time and hoping to find something edible, maybe even a delicious, tasty memory of a dish from the past - but this experiment might go awry, with bad surprises instead of good - freezer burn, food that is just too old, etc.

I am assuming others have this same problem - would love to hear defrosting stories of the good and the bad!!

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  1. We just write the contents on the top of the container with a sharpie. Then when the container is washed, scrub the ink off. Works pretty well, except when the person washing the dishes doesn't scrub it off properly. Franticly digging in the freezer before leaving for work, you don't look very carefully at the container and end up with a container of chicken stock instead of spaghetti sauce. While the chicken stock is quite delicious, it doesn't lead to a dinner in 30 minutes quite the way spaghetti sauce does.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Sooeygun

      i write on mine with a dry erase pen,comes off without the scrubbing. i keep on by the containers.

    2. Mom, is that you? JK. I'm too busy (aka lazy) to label everything that I chuck in the freezer. Last summer I had the wonderful [/sarcasm] GE fridge crank everything up to 60 degrees F, so I had to pitch most of what was in the freezer. Found pureed pumpkin (home grown), gravies, meats in various states of freezer burn and lots and lots of popsicles that didn't pass the taste test. Threw it out, replaced it and then lost it when Hurricane Ike knocked the power out for 2 days in September.

      P.S. As of 4 years ago when she replaced her fridge, my mom had food in her freezer when I graduated high school ('81).

      1. I generally do not label the items as it takes too much time. Not really time, I am just too lazy! I send the individual leftovers with my husband for work lunch. Even if they have some ice, uh, freezer burn, on them, he says they taste so much better than a Whole Foods sandwich (and it saves us about $50/ week). Pork with black beans, rice & a tomatillo sauce tend to freeze well. Most soups. I even freeze leftover veggies, potatoes, pot roast, etc, to throw into a soup to be made later. But my friend will refuse to eat "freezer" soup b/c of one that her Aunt made years ago that scarred her for life- it had fish sticks in it.

        1. Sorry, you get no sympathy from me! I keep a sheet of 1" x 3" stick-on labels on the refrigerator door, next to the magnetic notepad & pen holder, and label everything that goes into the freezer, as well as leftovers in the fridge that are in opaque containers. Takes all of 5 seconds. Plus it gives my wife's collection of refrigerator magnets something to do. Always list the date too.

          I can't help it, I inherited my mother's gene for organization.

          1. With me it's usually ingredients. So the last six months of meals have been based on "what will I use up this week?"

            Not as bad as it sounds, honestly. There is still a boneless duck breast in there, some duxelles, dried chestnuts, passionfruit paste, and homemade shrimp stock.

            1. i got 2/3 good surprises so far! some turkey meatballs, which went great with the hot sausage we were having for pasta and a small container of leftover ja-jang sauce, which we'll be eating with our leftover spaghetti

              It's fun being frugal!!!

              1 Reply
              1. re: jpmcd

                My DH calls meals from the freezer "freezer surpise".

                Like last week I thought I was thawing a nice container of chili, but it tuned out to be mole instead -- no meat in it, just the sauce. I am congenitally unable to make a pot of soup, chili or gravy (spaghetti sauce, to those of you out-sida Philly) smaller than a volkswagon, so end up putting a lot of containers in my freezer food bank. Those sticky labels just fall off, so now I use a sharpie to write the contents on top of the container. If I'm crazy motivated, I freeze the stuff in containers, pop them out of the containers after it's frozen solid, then vacuum seal in a Food Saver bag (and hopefully remember to label the bag). Depending on the shape of the container I used originally, the vacuumed packages are easier to store. I can also "turn around" the plastic containers in stead of having them sit for eons in the freezer.

                For a while I was on a run where I put soup in smaller containers, figuring that was just the right size to take for lunch. Sounded like a good idea at the time, but I just never took them for lunch. DH was a little taken aback when he came home to find mucho individual containers of soup thawing on the counter because I needed enough to feed both of us & some guests for dinner.

                Then there was the time my father, God rest his soul, had a bumper crop of basil and made pesto pesto pesto. He put it in baby food jars & froze them. Good thought, bad execution. Jars broke, green oil leaked..............

                My favorite freezer find was one of those freezer pop things that are basically flavored water in a plastic sleeve. I used to get them when the kids had a fever & I needed to keep them hydrated. I found it last year. My youngest child is 29.

              2. I'm like you - some gravy; a bit of mango sauce, some chopped red peppers, tomato paste - it all goes into the freezer.

                however, I *do* label things (although sometimes they fall off). It's not the not having labels and not knowing what's in the container - for me, it's knowing what's in the freezer itself. As I said in another thread (I think started by alkapal), I've got to create an "inventory list" for both my upstairs freezer *and* my pie safe pantry. (I've already got a list for my chest freezer in the basement.

                I see that you've been 2/3 successful....that's a pretty good average so far! :-)

                1. Not so much fun when sharing a small freezer with a roommate who sticks stuff in the freezer and never use it (3lb ground chicken almost a yr old). Or likes to use my nice new Tupperware and leaving me nothing to put my leftovers in. Leave things precariously balanced so that they fall out and crack. But problems with sharing a kitchen are probably best left for another thread.

                  For some reason everything I put in the freezer is red. Spaghetti sauce, chili, gumbo, etc. At least when I grab the wrong thing I can quickly get dinner done :)

                  1. Two words: Grease Pencil. Adheres wonderfully to containers and washes off with ease. (I say this knowing that 50% of containers in my freezer are unlabeled. Hence, our freezer roulette game.) Word of caution: if you have a spouse that does home projects, your grease pencil may (will) go missing. Buy two. Or three. (Hide the fourth.)

                    Tape and Sharpies are not for me. Grease pencil all the way.


                    2 Replies
                    1. re: cayjohan

                      I like the grease pencil too. However, I'm not consistant, and I seem to freeze things I don't really like, but don't want to toss (mushroom tofu "meatballs" what was I thinking?).

                      1. re: corneygirl

                        I've done that too. My wife and I have been trying to be more callous about this - "Are we really ever going to eat this? I don't think so!" - and throw away unsuccessful leftovers.

                    2. I don't use rigid containers in the freezer, I use plastic bags. I label AND DATE before I fill them. If it's liquid I put them in an 8x8 or 9x13 pan and freeze them flat. Next day, I take them out and store them vertically. Saves space. For a while I tried keeping a list on the outside of the big freestanding freezer, but found that I didn't keep it up.

                      And don't talk to me about things thawing. THree years ago in mid-July, the area had a half-million customers without power for as much as a week. We were out four days. I cried as I cleaned out the mess that was my freezer. And can you imagine an entire community with that sort of stuff to discard? It was all-round awful.