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Freezer Management

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.

What else?

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  1. Keep a current list of what you have.

    5 Replies
    1. re: magiesmom

      That was what I was going to say, too. I may only update it quarterly, but it's a must.

      1. re: magiesmom

        YES! A list!! Update when you add and remember to delete when you use things. I keep an online spreadsheet "freezer stock."

          1. re: magiesmom

            Exactly, but I just use a cheap dry erase board.

          2. re: fldhkybnva

            Same here, I use a google doc so I can access it from anywhere.

        1. 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.

          2 Replies
          1. re: hotoynoodle

            +2 on the veg trimmings for stocks as well as nuts, nut flours etc. I also keep other flours, cornmeal, rice and pastas in my freezer mainly because I live in a humid location.

            1. re: hotoynoodle

              If I'm sauteing vegies or tofu, or poaching fish, sometimes it's enough to add only 1 or 2 cubes of chicken stock, or tomato sauce. It's easy enough to add more, if I want to.

            2. 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.

              1 Reply
              1. re: meatn3

                I use boxes, too. I keep a separate list, but also tape a list to the front of each box so it's easy to find what I need.

              2. 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.

                1. 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.