I open the door and peer inside. There are rows of 5 different kugels, pans of chicken ready to bake, a stack of deli rolls, shwarma pies, some challah rolls, bags of meatballs, some pastries, soups, Moroccan cigars…all frozen solid, neatly labeled and stacked, inventoried, and waiting me to make my selections.
OK, it’s a dream. Well, mostly. My freezer has some of those elements, but needs more structure and an actual inventory of its contents. And more variety of food (cooking days and plans to come). It’s something I need to work on. So for the next few posts, we’ll be looking your freezer and how to organize and best use it, including some freezer cooking techniques, recipes, and other resources.
A freezer is an important tool in the organized (and frugal) home. You can buy bigger quantities of something when it’s on sale and freeze them. You can prepare double your regular dinner and freeze it for another night. You can do a huge cooking session and freeze a month’s worth of meals. You can pull a full meal from your freezer for those days you can’t or don’t feel like cooking. You can freeze produce from when it was in season. And you can store ice cream. (And really, doesn’t just that make it almost essential?)
Today I’m starting with an inventory of my current freezer contents. It’s the best way to see what you have and what you need to do. Click to download my free OJH Freezer inventory worksheet (saved as a .doc so you can adjust as suits you.) I updated my old version so it flows a little better. It’s meant to mark dairy, meat, and parve, date, description with serving size, quantity (fill in the appropriate amounts and x through them when used), and other notes. I keep one on each freezer.
I have an inventory of both my upstairs freezer (attached to my refrigerator) and my downstairs freezer (a full separate freezer). Yes, I’m lucky enough to have two. I use them for different purposes, but I love them both!
How do you get a real inventory? Well, I tend to do it well and clean the freezer as I go.
- Pull everything out of the freezer
- Wipe out the whole freezer
- Throw away anything unidentifiable or very freezer burned
- Sort food into categories: use first, breads, meats, meals, quick foods…whatever system works for you
- Write everything in as you…
- Put food back in. Be sure to put things that need to be used first in last so they are front and center and get things so they can stay organized. Don’t make it too elaborate!
- Hang the inventory up on the freezer, complete with a pencil/pen for updating as you go
- Oooh and ah, and take a picture of your organized-ness!
If you can get a helper, it can make things much easier–they write while you organize. At least that’s how it works here.
Off to inventory. Stay tuned for more on making the most of your freezer(s).