Fall weather, time to start cooking stews, soups, etc. What are some ways to use my freezer more effectively? I mostly cook for myself.
Ways I already know are:
-Label everything, including mm/yy.
-Freeze in individual portions.
-Freeze extra stock or tomato sauce in ice cube trays, transfer cubes to a larger container when frozen, so they don't disappear.
-Freeze extra buttermilk in 1 cup quantities.
i know you're only cooking for one but the amount of stock or tomato sauce in an ice cube size isn't enough for anything, is it? i use sandwich- or quart-sized ziplocs for this and freeze them flat.
i keep a bag in there to collect veg trimmings for soups and stocks.
i keep a bag of beef cooking liquid that i reuse each time i make a braise. reduce, freeze and reuse.
nuts, nut flours and dried spices and herbs get stored in the freezer too.
I keep a list too. So much easier to check the list than rummage through the frozen assets when looking for something!
I also have a few plastic baskets to keep like with like. Sausages are in one, frozen vegetables in another, etc. It helps keep smaller things from disappearing.
In addition I try to keep items in specific zones. Quick ready to heat meals in one, uncooked meats in another. If a zone gets too full it's a good signal to focus on using up a bit of the category.
I freeze seasoning vegetables, i.e. the last of the celery, onions, etc. chopped and bagged . When I have an over abundance of other veggies like peppers, carrots, etc. I do the same. When I need some for a soup, etc. I can grab a handful and add. It's also great not to have to throw it away.
There's only two of us here on a regular...sometimes we won't go through a whole loaf of bread before it goes bad. I place 4 slices in individual freezer bags and pull them out as needed. Same with dinner rolls, hot dog buns etc.
One thing I recently did was to make pastry rolled out then cut and laid on a baking sheet which was frozen in squares then once frozen, I put in a freezer bag. Now when I want to make chicken & pastry, I pull out what I need instead of having to roll the pastry everytime I want to make the dish. It works well.
Most of my problem was organization and forgetting what was in there. When I had a side-by-side frig / freezer, I would designate certain sections for: Meat, vegetables, ready made food, ice cubes on top and the frozen herbs / nuts, etc. in the freezer door. Now I have a top freezer and not only is it lacking in space but I'm not organized at all!
One thing that I've used before and will try again is a wax pencil and write on the side of the frig / freezer what is in there and when. When I got a boat load of lemons, I zested them and froze the juice and by damn if I ever found them again until I moved.