Sunday, February 19, 2012

Freezer Clean Out

Okay, so I know I am like many of you and I have things in my freezer that for some reason were never labeled or dated, and fortunately, some items are labeled and dated which makes guessing less stressful. I decided about a week ago that I need to be using up what is in the freezer. You know, stuff from 6 months ago (14 months ago?) before freezer burn and freezer taste robs the food of all its deliciousness. So, I found a container of pasta bake that we used up last week. For me, a pasta bake is pasta, meat, sauce, cheese, cottage cheese and leftover mushrooms and olives, that is thrown together and baked. They are never quite the same, depending on ingredients. Last night we had sausage gravy over an old bag of frozen hash browns. Tasted just fine and no freezer burn. Yay!

For dinner tonight, I am thawing 2 packages of ground beef from last fall and am making a couple of meat loaves. Yeah, you guessed it, I'll freeze one of them. LOL, and no, we haven't gotten sick yet. I always check the food and if in doubt, throw it out! I am thawing in the fridge some cabbage rolls for tomorrow night, and I have bags of shredded zucchini, so I am going to bake some zucchini bread this afternoon.  I did come across what I think is a turkey breast that is in a net and it looks like I smoked it. It is now thawing as well, and when I figure out what in tarnation it is, we will eat that up, too.

I not only need to be using what we have stored up in the freezer, I need the freezer space for fresh items. I have not had a freezer nightmare, yet. But I know that if I don't get on the ball and get my freezer sorted through, I will be finding food from more than a year ago. Yes, it's happened before and I hate to throw food out to the chickens that we spent our hard earned money on to buy for our consumption in the first place. I know I need a better system. Problem is, when I put something in the freezer, I just stick it where there's a spot. So, no rhyme or reason to my freezer, just food everywhere. I am hoping that once I get some decent space in the freezer, I can maybe come up with a rational system where I can rotate and use food in a timely manner. How do you manage your freezer storage?


  1. Have you thought of putting a sheet of paper on the door of the freezer and marking everthing you stuffed in on it? As is, you'd know which are the oldest items (the higher on the list) or you could go fancy and write where they are.

    Works best if you have a dedicated pen on a string attached next to the sheet.

  2. Anonymous,
    That's a great idea, and I think I've read about doing that somewhere before. I could put foods, amounts and dates on the list, and then check them off as I take them out or put them in. I will have to give this some thought, as after the initial inventory, it seems like it would just take seconds to track food going in and out. And simple is what it would take for me to follow through. I will let you know what I end up doing. If you saw my freezer... you would know that I need to do something.

  3. i write on the package what is in it and the date it goes into the freezer...we have a chest freezer and that is not an easy one to keep organized at what i have done is sorta keep the beef in one corner, chicken in another corner, fruit and veggies on the left side and in the basket on top. then those biggies like a turkey or ham go into the very middle..i still occasionally will do some digging in the deep freeze but at least i have a general idea of where something is. and like you, we are working our way to the bottom so that by april or may we can do the big ice chipping clean up and start all over again filling er up.

  4. I got myself some plastic bin or totes to keep the different meats in. Chicken, beef, rock fish, etc. I package in smaller meal sz amt. and vac seal, date then freeze as flat as I can and then stand them on end like files in their file bin. Putting the older ones in back or on the bottom. The bigger stuff, salmon roast, albicore, has to go in the big bins on the bottom and what isn't eaten by the time fishing season comes gets smoked.My bags of vegis and misc stuff? well, I'll be reading my fellow commentors to see how they handle that stuff. I think I have some pumpkin from a few years ago!

  5. I have a huge chest freezer and only kept it reasonable by labeling w perm marker and having boxes and bins for each food type. Still ahrd to get to at times but I know where to look. I bought an upright last year and it is easier to manage. I plan on getting rid of the large chest and replace w smaller chest by summer (and just use that for one type of food, like meat). Good luck!

  6. I'm Anonymous n°1, and another fancy addition comes to mind: writing down the item, but adding 2 "date" columns. Not only would you know when you put it in (provided you've labelled the package itself somehow, maybe even with the date too) but also when you pulled it out. You'd thus get an idea of how long any type of item sits in the freezer, on average, and which ones of the deadweights you should watch. Maybe not cooking up a particular casserole if it won't get eaten for 4 months (and then only by force) etc.

    Actually I wasn't doing this yet but I'm going to start. One thing I do write on the fresh meat packages from the store is the alleged number of days between the date I freeze it and the date it should go bad. Keeping in mind the alterations from the freezing itself, I know I have more leeway in thawing chicken legs labelled J -4 than those labelled "Oh sh*t right now!" (which do exist, unfortunately. In red-ink marker.)

    Oh yes you might want to have a freezer marker attached to the freezer in addition to the pen for the list. I've found out they come alive at night and migrate inside a frostbank at the very back or bottom of the freezer if you try storing them inside "right at eye level, just in front." Evil, sneaky markers...

    If your freezer is in a place where non-household-members might come some day, better stick the list sheet on the side rather than prominently at the front/top, where everyone can read it and will remember should the need for food arise.

  7. Anon 11:23 - great ideas. Think I'll implament this for my freezer. On another thought...One wonders if those markers are hanging out with the single socks somewhere in the garage?

  8. Anon & Herdog,
    Yep, socks and markers seem to grow legs and get up and walk off in the middle of the night, or wander into depths unknown.


Your thoughts are welcome!