We’ve all been there. Drawers so rammed we need an ice pick to prise them open. Mystery tubs that look like soup, but could be sorbet. Peas, ricocheting around like a pin ball machine.
Luckily there are some simple steps that can make all the difference!
Kate Hall from The Full Freezer has some helpful hacks to get us started…
Group Your Foods
The first thing to think about when tackling your freezer is what foods you actually tend to have in stock, and whether these can be grouped together.
You can then use boxes to split up your space; cardboard or plastic tubs will do, although it is possible to buy drawer dividers and even custom-made baskets.
Allocate each area to a different type of food*, and consider labelling or colour-coding the boxes and the drawers so that everyone knows what belongs where.
*Please note raw meat and fish should be kept at the bottom of your freezer, away from ready to eat foods. For more food safety tips when freezing see this post.
If you have limited space, this one is a game changer! Instead of freezing wet foods (such as soups and stews) in tubs, freeze them flat in freezer bags.
By flat freezing you can fit so much more in your freezer, and you can defrost your food much faster.
To do this, label your bag first with the contents and date (ideally across the top of the bag). I always keep a permanent marker in our kitchen drawer so that it is close to hand.
Don’t be tempted to skip this step, as it can be hard to identify the contents once frozen!
Once labelled, simply pop the bag into a cup or bowl with the top folded over the edge so that you don’t get anything on it (you can also buy bag racks to hold your bags if you prefer).
Pour in your liquid, and then lift the bag up, unfolding the top edge. As you seal it, push out as much air as possible. You can now freeze it lying flat. This could be on a shelf in your freezer, but if you don’t have a clear shelf, you can use a small baking tray or large picnic plate and just slide it in wherever it will fit; just be sure to keep it level! It’s a good idea to line your flat surface with baking parchment to make sure the bag doesn’t stick, and if you are freezing a few bags, place parchment between them too.
Once frozen, you can stand up all of your bags so that you can flick through them like a filing cabinet of food! Perfect for pasta sauce, curries, soup, or leftover tinned ingredients such as coconut milk or tinned tomatoes.
You can even get small bags which are more suitable for kids’ portions. These are particularly handy on those occasions when you want to be able to throw a homemade meal together quickly.
Simply run the bag under cold water for a minute or two and the contents should soften enough to be able to remove it from the bag.
You can then pop it in a pan on the hob, or in a microwaveable container and heat through until piping hot
Ice cube trays, weaning trays and silicone muffin cases are also handy for freezing small quantities for kids, as well as saving leftover ingredients. I love freezing cubes of tomato purée and pesto for example rather than risking them going bad in the fridge!
If you are planning to store your food in the tray, make sure you go for one with a lid as this will help to protect the contents from freezer burn. Alternatively, decant your cubes into a labelled freezer bag so that your tray is free to freeze other foods.
Fresh foods such as berries and vegetables can also be frozen and stored in freezer bags, but it’s a good idea to ‘open freeze’ them first. This just means popping your food onto a lined tray to freeze before moving them to a bag.
This allows the food to freeze faster which helps preserve the quality, but also means it won’t clump together. This way, when you want to use what you have frozen, you can just grab as much as you need.
By storing your food in freezer bags* in this way, and keeping your foods grouped together it is much easier to find what you need quickly and ensure that it actually gets used!
~ Kate Hall is the Founder of The Full Freezer and author of the e-book ‘The Full Freezer (Save Food, Save Time, Save Money)’.
She helps families to reduce their food waste and cook from scratch more by learning how to use their home freezers more effectively (without batch cooking!).
For more tips about cutting your food waste and home freezing, follow Kate on Instagram @TheFullFreezer
*I recommend using good quality freezer bags that can be washed and reused many times, then cleaned and recycled (using Supermarket bag collection points). Silicone bags can be used, but tend to be bulkier, and when they eventually wear out, they cannot be recycled.