So now that you have thought about WHAT you are going to store (and honestly, I store all three categories), let’s talk about HOW you should store them. Identification and Time are the two most important things to thinks about. Provided that you have a handy dandy list somewhere that tells you what is in your freezer, timing shouldn’t be an issue. Timing for freezer food is all about using stuff up before it goes bad (say about 6 months on average), and it usually happens (around here, anyway) when I forget what I have and it gets buried at the bottom of my chest freezer. If you have a list and keep it absolutely up to date, you will know to keep digging for that Asian Pork Loin you KNOW is down there. We mostly covered identification in the same post: labeling. But there is more to it. What should be on the label? Well, first off, the name of the recipe. *grins* Lasagna, enchiladas . . . they’re both a pan of red stuff after freezing. If it’s a new recipe, be very specific. I have a bag in the freezer labeled “Easy Pork Chops”. I have no idea what is in the marinade, or how it was intended to be cooked, because there are about a gazillion “Easy Pork Chop” recipes on Zaar. I should have written down the recipe #. Also make sure the date is on there somewhere, whether it is the date you cooked and froze it, or the “use by” date, or both. Because I know we rotate fairly quickly, I can get away with just writing down which month it was put in the freezer. If I find something 4 months old, I generally cook it right away, and wonder where it was hiding . . . 🙂
How you prep food for freezing can be a great help when organizing. My favorite method is to place most foods in freezer bags (labeled beforehand), zip them almost shut and then et out any extra air, and seal. Then I squish the food around, gently, until the bag is as flat as I can get it. The most space efficient shape is a square or rectangle, so I like using flat(ish) rectangular bags. This allows me to treat them as files in my freezer: stand them up on end, with their label facing the front, and then flip through when I need to find something.
Sometimes for large casseroles (like enchiladas, or lasagnas) which need to be assembled in a certain way I freeze one of two ways. I have a couple of aluminum disposable pans with lids that can go straight from the freezer to the oven, and I love building in these, and then freezing. Or (if you only have one or two 9x13inch pans) I have also lined one of my regular pans with foil, built the casserole, and frozen. Once it is frozen, you can pop it out of the pan. *grins* For these sorts of things, I usually label with masking tape labels. If you do not think you will be eating these in the next months or two, they should really be wrapped in plastic to prevent freezer burn.
Next week: WHERE are you going to store stuff in your freezer?