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Freezer purge

This week I'm eating strictly from the freezer. It's time. Today I defrosted the lamb I had in there for a few months and made lamb stew. I had some frozen chunks of cooked turnip in there and thought that might be good in the stew. They were spongy and a bit weird, so I chucked them. Tomorrow it's going to be slow cooked cassoulet with defrosted turkey legs and some sausages I had in there. I found some little containers of basil pesto from last summer's garden. Not sure if those are still good. A box of mixed vegetables (hope they're not too frosty to use). There's a container of cut up apples in there from last fall ready for a pie, some frozen meatballs, tortilla soup from a too large recipe I made last month, little containers of broth, on and on and on.

One half of my fridge is a freezer, so it's not so bad that it's totally unmanageable,although some things get overlooked. I can't even imagine a great big freezer to deal with. Anyone out there have a regular system of using up what's in there. I'm always tempted to buy fresh when I shop and cook that leaving the freezer as an afterthought.

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  1. I am doing the same for an upcoming move. Except mine is a moderate-sized chest freezer.

    Major lesson for me: LABEL LABEL LABEL. On Sunday I pulled out a large serving of chili and a baggie with two servings of turkey stew. But what I actually got was minestrone soup and pork loin curry lol.

    We're not huge fans of reheating soups/casseroles/etc. My plan for the next place is to freeze ingredients: serving size raw and cooked beef/chicken/proteins, stocks/broths, and prepped veggies.

    Plus, we need to buy bananas sparingly. There's only so many smoothies I can make from those frozen buggers. :)

    1 Reply
    1. re: DuchessNukem

      My theory is that bananas reproduce in the freezer. We just did a clean-out and put a dozen frozen bananas into the compost--just didn't "earn" their space in the freezer anymore.

    2. This may not work with an half fridge/ freezer but this is what I do to keep my meat organized and not forgotten about.. I use different colored recyclable (cloth like) grocery bags. In each I keep the same kinds of meat - one for pork, one for beef, one for chicken, one for fish, etc. It's easy to grab a bag out of the freezer and quickly look through it. There are no bags/packs of meat shoved to the back or buried under other things. I also have one bag for miscellaneous/seasonal items. It makes it easy to see what kind of meat I'm running low on before I go and buy a more.

      I'm also a nut for deciding the night before, what we will be eating the next day, and taking it out of the freezer and putting in the fridge before I go to bed. Then I don't need to stop by the grocery store, wandering around aimlessly, buying more food!

      +for labels as well!

      1 Reply
      1. re: TSAW

        Right on the money TSAW! I've got a bunch of those bags of different colors/patterns and that's the way I'm going today! Love the "wandering around aimlessly" analogy.

      2. I am an anti-freeze person except when necessary. In my standard size bottom freezer, the majority of its contents is homemade chicken stock in containers just right for a risotto plus cubes for sauces, bread crumbs made from our homemade bread and extra homemade pasta sauce.. Otherwise, it is basically things I have purchased as frozen foods--gyoza, corn, peas, ice cream, berries-things that I find keep better frozen--nuts, whole wheat flour--or leftovers that will be used for stock--chicken frames, onion bits etc--or smoothies--ripe bananas, extra fruit and yogurt.. I stopped buying meat for freezing because I don't think it keeps its texture and flavor and too many things end up with freezer burn when we have many markets within 15 minutes of our house. I applaud your "temptation" to buy fresh rather than stash things away that will never be as good as they were.

        2 Replies
        1. re: escondido123

          Escondido, I can't entirely agree with you because some things in the freezer aren't "not as good as they were" but are a great deal better than they were. Example: homemade chili waiting for you when you come home soaking wet, freezing cold, and exhausted. I too live surrounded by markets, and not one of them sells homemade chili. The freezer is my friend.

          1. re: Querencia

            I know that my life isn't typical, but my husband likes to grocery shop every day so that changes the whole equation. My main problem with freezing is meats. I believe they change texture and moisture and just aren't as good as fresh. And since for us there is rarely, and by that I mean I can't think of an occasion in the last year, a time when we don't feel like cooking. Luckily I haven't come home wet, freezing cold and/or exhausted in that period of time, so either my husband and I are always up for cooking--and he would rather eat fresh pasta then leftovers any night. (What leftovers we do have are eaten at lunch time, though I must admit to stashing fresh salsa in the freezer when we've bought more than we can use--it will end up as the base for a sauce sometime down the line.)

        2. If I did a freezer purge, I'd be eating ice cream for days. Maybe even weeks.

          1 Reply
          1. re: ipsedixit

            and the problem is???

            Let me know if you need help with that! :D

          2. The freezer side of our side by side Sub Zero is haphazard, leftovers, vegetables, kids junk food and meat for the dogs. Easy to see in and find what's there.
            BUT
            Our separate free standing freezer is fully organized. Everything is labelled and dated. I keep a spread sheet in my computer. A printed copy is on the freezer door. Anything going in or out is marked down. I do a computer update each week before making my shopping list. My kids and wife don't go to the free standing freezer (it's not near the kitchen) so it's easy for me to keep it under control.

            1. I used to have a small magnetic whiteboard that I kept on the freezer door -- I listed everything that was in the freezer (I didn't bother with things like popsicles or ice cream or Hot Pockets) -- and wiped it off of the list as we used it.

              Once in a while I forgot to write something down when I put it in the freezer, but I very rarely found that frosted mystery block of freezerburned SOMETHING that just went to the trash.

              Now, my freezer is so pathetically tiny that I can't get more than a few things in there at the same time....so there's next to no inventory, and it's impossible to lose it.

              1. Unfortunately, a week-long power outage took care of my need for a freezer purge... or at least for a selective freezer purge!

                1. No small quantities of leftover anything goes into the freezer here, except tomato paste. Everything else either must be an item that has to be kept frozen, be prepared intentionally for the freezer, or made in excess volume with the freezer in mind. For everything else, if it doesn't get used up before going bad, it gets pitched.

                  I'm also a big fan of labeling with date and weights, and bagging meats by type.

                  There's no economy in cluttering up the freezer with junk just so I can finally justify trashing it due to freezer burn some day. The garbage disposal is in the sink here, not above the fridge.

                  1. being in S Fl I have to do a freezer purge in June - I don't want to be stuck with no power and a load of rotting food should we get a hurricane. So it's kept at a minimum all summer and there is usually just bread, coffee and maybe something grillable for immediately after a hurricane that can go on the gas grill for some dinner the next day. We had no power for 2 weeks after Wilma.
                    I also hate that moment when you defrost the chilli for the next night to find it's vegetable soup! Sigh, I guess I should invest in labels and a marker pen.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: smartie

                      ...yeah, because you have to keep gallon milk jugs full of water in the freezer til November.

                      I have to confess, that as much as I miss my home state, I don't much miss packing the hurricane box and emptying the refrigerator in the spring and reversing the process in the fall.

                    2. Once a year we purge our freezer. There are only 2 of us but we buy meats and such @ Sams/BJ's etc and end up with chicken, steaks, bread etc.. in the freezer. We defrost and cook the next day. When the freezer is close to empty it gets a good cleaning. We rarely toss anything.

                      1. It's a never ending cycle, Noodle. You made a lamb stew from the hunk of meat and then what? You had leftovers. And where do they go? Ta da!

                        1. I'm about to try to start a freezer and pantry purge to save money - going to see if we can go this month cooking only from what we have, with very minimal grocery shopping for fresh produce. I'd been planning this for this month for a while. I'm going to have to adapt some of my plans in favor of more slow cooker and easier meals though - broke my foot last week, and I'm not really moving so great.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: jw615

                            jw615, OMG I have a fracture in my foot too that I've been recovering from for a month now. Must be that since you can't get around too well, may as well purge the freezer. Ha ha.

                          2. We have a 14 cf upright freezer (in the basement) and the bottom freezer of the fridge.

                            The only thing allowed in the upright is meat.

                            We buy our beef and pork by the half and get chickens a couple of times a year and because of timing, the upright stays at least 3/4 full most of the time. I used to keep a running log on the door but after a couple of years buying this way, I stopped. Like someone else mentioned, I decide the night before (or a week before when I meal plan) what needs to be defrosted. By going into the freezer daily or every other day, I can keep a mental list of what is in there.

                            The fridge freezer is a nightmare and I don't even freeze leftovers. It gets junked up with ice cream, candy (someone in the house prefers their Hershey kisses frozen) ice packs and random containers of pre-cooked ground beef or shredded beef or pork.

                            I don't freeze little bits of anything. I can't, I would go mad from the clutter.

                            1. I'm with the white board on the chest freezer group. I only have a 7 cu.ft. freezer, but it's earned it's keep just through sales and freebies at work (you would be surprised how much gets placed on the free table.) It's mostly meat items and a few vegetable stand-bys. I try to buy as much fresh produce as possible.

                              Now the freezer under the refrigerator... that's where leftovers, odds, and ends go.