9 Tips to Organize Your Freezer

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A freezer that’s full will help maintain its temperature but needs proper air circulation to do so. Here are some tips to keep your freezer organized.

1. Label, label and label with names and dates. You’re likely to think that you’ll remember what’s in packages, but they often morph into something unrecognizable.

2. When buying in bulk, repackage frozen meats and seafood into meal-size portions. Put wrapped packages of similar proteins into individual bins or large freezer bags (for example, one bag for chicken, one for pork and one for beef). It makes it easier to see exactly what you have. Also, in the case of items defrosting in a power failure, the bins or bags will keep juices from leaking onto other items. When you cook food in quantity and package them for the freezer, again, store them in meal-size portions.

3. Soups, sauces, pastas, rice and beans can all be stored in freezer bags in relatively flat layers. Then stack them or set them upright in a bin to maximize vertical space. Reusable and stackable plastic containers are great, too, but look for short and flat rather than deep containers, as thin packages are quicker to defrost.

4. Use plastic bins or baskets or even sturdy cardboard boxes to help contain bulky items or packages that have a tendency to slide around.

5. To find items easily, create zones and keep like foods grouped together: breakfast ingredients (bacon, sausage, waffles); baking ingredients (flour, yeast, cookie dough, puff pastry dough, phyllo dough, pie shells and pies); cheeses; veggies; fruits; sauces; whole meals; and ice cream.

6. FIFO: first in, first out. Rotate your frozen foods, putting the newer packages on the bottom of the stack or toward the back as you put them away. Tightly wrap up opened packages with a rubber band or clip and stick them in a labeled freezer bag.

7. If you’re not a big ice user, remove the ice cube bin and store ice cubes in a freezer bag on the door. If you use ice cubes often, load up ice in the bins and put the trays in only when you need to make more.

8. Since doors are the warmest spot in the freezer, they are best used to hold nonperishable items like ice packs, liquor and foods that will be used relatively quickly or are hardier: bread, butter, ice pops, juice concentrate, and bags of flours and nuts.

9. Know what not to freeze: delicate leafy veggies, cream sauces, eggs in their shells, foods in cans (note: as opposed to canned foods transferred to plastic bags or containers) and coffee (it absorbs off-odors).

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