The freezer isn’t a cryogenic tank to park your food indefinitely. So many people buy food on sale (buy one, get one) or marked down (hit the grocery store first thing in the morning for great deals), but the only thing they really get out of the deal is inedible freezer-burned food!
Let me say this as gently as possible: it’s better to buy food FULL PRICED than it is to buy stuff on sale and stash it into your freezer with no plan. That on-sale stuff ends up petrified into an Ice Age remnant and becomes more clutter that has no purpose whatsoever except to remind you that you threw money away.
Now listen; there is no need to feel bad—we’re going to fix this! Yes, there is a way around this mountain and it’s actually pretty easy. I’ve got three points to help you negotiate that scary place called Your Freezer. Here we go.
1—Go On A Dig. I know you don’t want to go there, but you have to. You can’t make a plan to use this stuff if you don’t know what you have! Get in there and get ruthless. Toss out anything with a date that is more than a year ago. It’s no good anymore, I repeat, it’s no good anymore. You cannot raise the dead. Do not try and rescue it, resuscitate it, and please don’t fret over it. It’s over; just toss it and be done with it.
2—Put It On Paper. After you declutter the freezer, write down what remains according to date and type. For example, if you find 3 packages of chicken, write down the date on the package, the type of chicken, and approximately how much so you know how to use it up. Flybabies, stick this page in the menu planning section of your control journal.
3—Make a Plan. Use your oldest food first. Find a recipe if need be, but get that food used! If you have a bunch of frozen vegetables, make those your side dishes this week and skip your usual purchases at the grocery store. Same with the meat, poultry, or fish; use what you have and save a bunch of cash!
After you’ve done this, you’ll feel better, your freezer will be cleaned out (go ahead and wipe it down now that it’s practically empty!) and you can buy without guilt next time you go to the store. But just remember, you’re not starting over and stashing and dashing this stuff—you’re going to do it differently this time, utilizing the three points I just gave you to keep your freezer stocked, yet not packed to overflowing.
In the future, remember to rotate your food and put the oldest on top as you add anything new to the freezer. Let your new mantra be To Fill, Not Spill. In other words, stock it but don’t pack it to overflowing. Remember that your pantry, fridge, and freezer can all be a major help in getting your family fed, but they can also be huge hindrances when they’re so jam-crammed that you can’t see the popsicles through all the meat.
So go get ‘em, ladies! Set your timer for 15 minutes and watch your freezer be transformed from a burial place for forgotten food into the storage unit it is meant to be!
Leanne Ely, Your Dinner Diva since 2001
Saving Your Dinner One Meal at a Time
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