Not too long ago, my freezer (the small one above the fridge in the kitchen) was looking a lot like this:
for photo credit, click on photo
I was getting tired of not being able to find anything, or even worse, finding things that I had frozen months (or, gasp- over a year) before and had forgotten about.
So, a couple of weeks ago, I did the thing I rarely do- I went to the dollar store. I purchased a number of plastic bins, went home, dug out all the junk and threw the overly-freezer-burn items into my green bin box, and took a look at what was left.
It seemed to me that most of the food items fell into four categories:
fruit and vegetable
convenience foods (read: junk food)
So, I took my handy four bright red, made-in-china plastic bins, and made appropriate labels, and came up with a freezer that looks like this:
Notice there is space to the right of the bins for things like ice cube trays, coffee, and dessert items like ice-cream. I also still have the door to put odds and ends like frozen juices and the food waste for the green bin that I want to freeze until garbage day.
Its not your average freezer look, but its working great for me. I find since I developed this system I am actually using up what I have in a much more timely fashion, Im not throwing anything out, and Im also not breaking any toes dropping five pound roasts on my feet as I reach for a bag of half-burned peas at the back of the top shelf. So, freezer life is good.
Another thing i’ve started doing to make my freezer more functional and organized is freezing things in Ziploc freezer bags, which allows me to freeze them flat. This saves both space in my freezer, as I can stack the bags nicely in the bins and it doesnt waste the space that oddly-shaped Tupperware containers would do, and it also saves me loads of time because when you freeze things flat, they defrost so much more quickly.
For instance, Ive started cooking chicken breast ahead of time, by putting it in my favourite marinade and grilling it, then flash freezing it like this:
mmm… delicious, organic pre-cooked chicken breast all ready to go for an easy meal
Then I put them in in a handy-dandy Ziploc and I can just pull out how ever many pieces I want and toss them in to a stir fry or pasta and they reheat in the pan in minutes. I started doing this after I realized I really like having precooked chicken at hand for convenience but I did not want to buy that scary junk they sell at the store (Janes I think is the brand) that is made in THAILAND. Creepy.
I understand to the very eco-conscientious, the idea of using disposable Ziploc bags is distasteful, but… well Im no David Suzuki. Im all about being green, but the system has to actually work, too, and this one does. Im trying to use less Ziplocs in my fridge in an attempt to mitigate the amount of plastic baggies I am sending to the landfill, opting for plastic containers for things like halves of onions or oranges which before my freezer reformation would have gone right into a “small” Ziploc in a hurry. So hopefully if Mr Suzuki does ever audit my food storage practices, Ill maybe get a C minus instead of an F plus.