Does your freezer look something like this? Empty, lacking? When it is time to cook dinner, do have to go to the store? Over the next 6 weeks, I’ll be sharing some freezer tips with you in a series I’m calling The Well Stocked Freezer. I consider my well stocked freezer a majorÂ keyÂ to my daily success on GAPS. In this first post, I’m going to share with you some of the basic tools that I use that make freezing foods an easier chore.
Basic Tools for Freezing
A Freezer InventoryÂ I talked about how to do this in my post What’s in your freezer?. You really need to know what’s in the freezer so that you can make use of it. I use my freezer inventory to plan out my meals. If I know that we have very little pork chops & bacon but tons of ground pork, for example, I can space out the usage over my menus. Have you ever bought part of a cow & at the end you were left with several pounds of round steak or stew beef, but all of the ground beef was long gone? A freezer inventory (and careful menu planning) will ensure that you avoid this!
Containers for Freezing I personally do not like freezing in plastic–but I have not found a way around plastic bags. If you know a solution, please share! I freeze my broth, tomatoes, tomato sauce, applesauce, soups, etc., in 1 quart glass canning jars. I prefer wide mouth jars, because there are times when my broth is mostly defrosted but there is still a large frozen chunk, and the wider mouth allows that frozen chunk to come out easily. Freezing in glass jars is a little tricky. You have to make sure to fill the jars only 2/3 to maybe 3/4 full or they will inevitably crack (ask me how I know ). The lids that come with canning jars are lined with BPA, so if you want your food to be totally BPA-free, you’ll need to get Tattler Lids (click on Pantry Paratus & look at their canning supplies).
The reason I haven’t found a way around plastic bags is because jars are bulky, and awkward, especially for a chest freezer (stacking them & having them fall can create a frozen disaster!). I recently froze 10 meals worth of Zucchini Boat filling (I will share my recipe & tips with you next week!), and I used plastic bags because they were easier to store. I use the Natural Value brand of storage and freezer bags (the link is for the waxed sandwich bags, which I also use). Some other good options include PrideGreenÂ andÂ Green N’ Pack. Never heat a plastic bag! Never microwave in it! (Avoid the microwave altogether, but especially do not put plastic in it unless you like eating chemicals).
If you are using plastic bags, you will find a Utensil Crock to be an awesome tool! I use one to store my cooking utensils by my stove. Whenever I’m freezing in plastic bags, I’ll take the utensils out, wash it off, and use it. I set the 1 quart plastic bag inside of it and wrap the top edges of the bag around the top of the utensil crock. This keeps the bag wide open so that I can dump food into it easily.
A couple of years ago, I bought a couple of sets of Pyrex Glass Storage sets like this:
I see that they now have red ones, and I’m so totally jealous! Â I often see sets like this at Costco. I stocked up during the Black Friday sales at various stores. We use these a lot! These replaced all of the plastic “tupperware” type stuff in my kitchen. Whenever we have leftovers, we will scoop some into one of these round dishes, pop the lid on, and put it in the freezer. These are my husband’s “mystery lunches”! He never knows what he’s getting, but he knows that he has had it before and he liked it.Â To freeze a big dinner, I would use a glass 9×13 pan with a lid.
Rimmed baking sheets and freezer paper for freezing trays of fruits and veggies.
A Metal Funnel for pouring liquids into glass jars.
My Food ProcessorÂ is an invaluable tool for preparing veggies and cheese for freezing! I got mine when Farm Boy 2 was born and I wanted to learn how to make baby food. It needs to be replaced soon (the lid is broken and taped together & the motor is sounding funny!), but it has lasted me 9 1/2 years and it has been well used!
And last but not least, an essential tool for freezing food is a freezer! I prefer a Chest Freezer for meats and an Upright Freezer for everything else. You can often find used freezers on Craigslist or in the paper, but beware! We had higher electric bills when we were using some older, used freezers. I think it’s worth it to spend the money & get a newer freezer, in the long run.
I hope that this series will be helpful to all of you & that it will help you in storing up summer veggies in your freezer!
What kitchen tools do you use for freezing foods?
Photo Credit: Becoming Green