A Well-Stocked Freezer, Part 3

After sharing with you WHY I like to keep my freezer full and WHAT I like to put in it, today I thought I’d share a couple tips to make your freezer stocking easier.

I am fortunate to have lots of freezer space, including two refrigerator/freezers and one deep freezer, therefore my freezers are never truly full.  The deep freezer can still create organizational issues with its cavernous space, but we’ve found a solution that prevents me from digging through three feet of steak and roasts looking for the last package of hamburger.

Four of these inexpensive crates have saved us!  We organize our beef in them (hamburger in one, roasts and round steak in another, steaks for the grill in the third), and put lightweight extras on top.  The fourth (not shown) is used for other meat I have on hand (chicken, turkey, sausage).  They are easy to lift, and it’s easy to find what I need.

Another way to use the crates (if you don’t keep quite as much beef as we do!) is to purchase multi-colored crates for different items.  Veggies in one, meat in another, maybe fruit or baked goods in another crate.  The options are limitless!

This next tip is my all-time favorite freezer cooking tip, and I must credit my high school home ec. teacher for the advice.  See Mrs. R, I was listening!  Just don’t ask me a thing about what I remember from the sewing project… which I never even completed…

Line your baking dishes with foil (I recommend heavy duty) before you freeze the meal!  No more flimsy aluminum pans (and for those of you frugal enough to reuse them, no more cleaning those nasty ridged corners!), and… you can still have your lovely baking dishes handy for other meals, not hiding away in the freezer!  Yea!  Oh, and this method takes up a little less space for those of you with a freezer space crunch.

I line the pans with foil, making sure to leave enough around the edge to fold over the food.

Then I place a sheet of plastic wrap over the top (mostly so my cheese doesn’t stick to the foil), fold the foil over the top, and freeze the dish.

After it’s frozen, I pop the foil lined food out of the dish and put it in a freezer bag for storage.  I don’t freeze many things in a 9×13 dish because my family would be eating lots of leftovers, and we prefer to just freeze half of the meal to fix another week instead of eating the same thing all week (9×9 pans are perfect for gallon freezer bags).  For those of you with larger families, you could just wrap your frozen food in extra foil before freezing.

When you’re ready to bake, you have two options.

  1. Peel the foil off while it’s still frozen, then place back in your favorite dish. (preferred method if you get points for presentation!)
  2. Stick the frozen foiled food in the dish and bake as is (preferred method for very little clean up!) BUT don’t forget the plastic wrap that might be protecting your cheese!

Do you have any helpful hints for organizing your freezer or freezing lots of food?  I’d love to hear them.

Oh, and the casserole that’s pictured up above?  To die for Cavatini.  Come back tomorrow.  I’ll share the recipe!

Happy freezing, everyone!

Check out more kitchen tips at Tammy’s Recipes.

Menu Plan Monday, 9/8

Here’s what we’ll be eating this week. 

Sunday, 9/7

  • fried eggs, cinnamon rolls, oj
  • zucchini parmesean, Italian cheese bread, fried okra
  • smoothies (for the kids) homemade vanilla ice cream topped with butterscotch (hot fudge for hubby) and pecans for mom and dad  😉 

Weekday Suppers

  • roast, potatoes and gravy, carrots
  • roast beef burritos with lettuce and cheese
  • tuna casserole, peas, apple crisp
  • Mexican chicken skillet, sauteed squash and onions
  • Game Night!  leftovers or sandwiches, snacks for game

Saturday, 9/13

  • Football Team Breakfast:  blueberry pancakes, scrambled eggs with cheese, sausage links
  • clean out the fridge
  • black bean nachos, smoothies

In other cooking ventures… if we still have leftover roast after the burritos (one of my favorites!) I’ll make roast beef quiche for the freezer.  Also, I still have a drawer full of pears that need attention.  I’m leaning toward pecan pear muffins for the freezer because they are so yummy, but they’re not terribly healthy.  Maybe I’ll experiment with some healthy substitutions (applesauce, honey, whole wheat flour?)  And my neighbor’s apple tree will probably be ready this week.  I think I’ll make applesauce for the first time ever!  (I don’t have canning jars, so I’m going to freeze mine.)

** Update:  We picked apples late this afternoon and I’ve already made my first batch of applesauce!  SO EASY that I’m embarrassed I never tried it before.  Thanks, Laura, for the inspiration!

Head on over to Organizing Junkie for more menu inspiration!