Monday, October 06, 2008

Making The Most Of Available Freezer Space

We currently only have an above-the-refrigerator freezer. Someday I would love a chest freezer. In the meantime though, I've come up with a pretty reasonable plan that really allows me to make the most of the space I do have available.

I love freezer cooking and because of that, I usually stuff my freezer as full as I can get it during the first week of the month. Occasionally I do run out of room but not as often as you would think. And many of those times, when I think I'm really out of room, I'll ask my husband to move some stuff around for me so I can fit a few more things in. I'm always amazed at the room he is able to create. (Which often leads me to wonder - is this a guy thing? Do all men just have some part of their brain that allows them to maneuver way too much stuff into a tiny space without much effort? Because Eric does the same thing with our car whenever we are loading up for a road trip. Anyone else familiar with this?)

One of the easiest things I do to help with space issues is to fill freezer bags with sauces, mashed potatoes, or anything else that can be frozen flat. Once they are completely frozen, the packages are movable anyway you choose. I usually begin by stacking them one on top of the other. Then, as the week progresses and room starts getting tighter, I'll stand the packages up and fit them in wherever there's a sliver of space between two objects.

I have been using aluminum pans for freezing casserole-type meals. These have worked okay for me, although they are pretty flimsy and not that easy to clean and reuse. For October, I am planning to just line my casserole dishes with foil and then take the contents out of the dish once frozen, thanks to Amy's suggestion.

I like to take advantage of the cheap fold-over sandwich bags. I use these for freezing fruits, vegetables, and cooked meats. I triple bag each item and have never had a problem with freezer burn. These little packages fit perfectly in the door of my freezer and stack well on top of each other. Also, I freeze my fully-cooked ground beef in 1/4-1/2 lb. sized packages. If I'm making a casserole or similar dish that is full of other ingredients, I'll just grab one package and stretch the meat. But if I'm making something like tacos, I'll just grab three packages. The little packages are just much easier to fit in the freezer.Although I'm always tempted to use every little bit of space in my freezer, I do make sure not to block the vent that blows the cold air into the freezer. The food will stay frozen if it's blocked, but the freezer will have to work harder and run more often to maintain the proper temperature.

You can find even more kitchen tips over at Tammy's Recipes.


Anonymous,  10:05 PM  

I continue to be awed by your freezer organization skills. And just so you know, Lance does ALL of the packing and rearranging at our house... and in our car... and our suitcases...

Let me know how you like the pan lining freezer method!

Sonshine 9:41 AM  

It has to be a guy thing because my hubby is very good at packing things and rearranging things to fit in small spaces. I always can tell when he has gotten to the freezers and rearranged things without saying anything to me that he did it in the first place. Actually, I can always tell when he has gone anywhere in the house and rearranged things. :)

Anonymous,  11:14 AM  

I call it 'packing like an engineer.' My DH is an engineer, and he can pack the freezer so that you couldn't even fit a stick of gum in there!


Susie 6:47 PM  

Wow! That's impressive organization there!! Awesome job!

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