Learning how to organize a freezer properly is not only essential for keeping your kitchen neat and tidy, but it's also the easiest way to keep your food safe.
It can be tempting to throw your extra chicken breasts or dinner leftovers into random storage containers in your freezer, but this makes it far harder to keep track of what is in there. Not knowing exactly what is in your freezer also means that you don't know when it was put in there, putting you at risk of consuming out of date food that will leave you feeling ill.
Organizing one of the best freezers properly will also mean creating dedicated spots for certain foods, like meat and vegetables. It's important to keep these apart to ensure they foods don't leak and contaminate each other, which is why we run through some easy rules to follow when sorting out your freezer. You should know how to clean a freezer too, so that you have peace of mind that your drawers aren't haboring any harmful germs.
We spoke to Food Safety Expert and Dietitian Johna Burdeos and Home Organization Expert Sue Spencer, who provided the best tips that combine to create a hygienic and tidy freezer system.
Why should you organize your freezer
Home Organization Expert Sue Spencer, collaborated with leading appliance brand Hisense to explore exactly how to organize a freezer. She says, "your fridge is an essential appliance in your home, but it's easy to neglect its cleaning needs due to your busy schedule.
However, cleaning and organising your fridge is crucial to ensure the safety and freshness of the food you store inside it. Not only that, but an organised fridge also makes for a more pleasant cooking experience and helps prolong the lifespan of your appliance."
How to organize a freezer
Sue Spencer recommends a top to bottom approach when it comes to auditing your fridge freezer. By removing each product from your fridge freezer, or just your freezer, you can check the use-by dates on any goods and throw anything away that might have been hanging around for too long. If you're already organized, you'll have labelled and written the date on your leftovers which makes it easier to establish whether it needs to be thrown away. If you haven't already, it's great to always have a sharpie or masking tape on hand to make it a quick habit to continue.
1. Undertake regular audits
As Sue recommended above, holding regular freezer audits will help keep you afloat of what you have - saving your food from being forgotten and ultimately saving you money. It's really easy to forget what you have stored, especially if you are a fan of batch cooking, so we recommend removing everything on a monthly or bi-monthly basis so you can take stock of what there is to use up, before your next grocery shop.
2. Keep a freezer inventory
When the time comes to organize you freezer from top to bottom, it's also a great idea to note down what you already have in there. It's common to save food in your freezer for a rainy day but it's actually best to slowly use things from your inventory so that it's consumed safely.
Keep a note on your fridge or somewhere convenient in your kitchen with the different foods in there and when it was frozen, so that you can ensure you're keeping track of each meal and ingredient.
3. Use airtight containers
Dietitian Johna Bordeos recommends to use airtight containers to store frozen fruits and vegetables.
It can be tempting to store them in plastic bags as these squash flat, but fruit and veg can easily absorb odors and flavors from other foods in the freezer. In order to keep your frozen food as true to it's original taste as possible, airtight containers are the way forward.
4. Don't overload the freezer
You might want to store as much food as possible in your freezer to prevent it from going out of date in your fridge, but Johna actually advises against this.
"Don't overload the freezer", she says. "This can affect the circulation of cold air and cause the temperature to rise."
5. Learn what not to freeze
As well as learning what you should freeze, it's essential to learn what foods simply don't freeze well. Johna notes that food contained cream and mayonnaise will look curdled when it comes to thawing them, and leafy greens will thaw wilted, too.
She also says, "Eggs in shells should not be frozen as this causes the yolk to be thick and syrupy. You should also avoid freezing canned foods and this can cause the can to bulge and burst, exposing the contents to air and potential microbes."
6. Change the containers for meat and poultry
If, like me, you transfer your store-bought poultry directly from your grocery bags into the freezer, then you've probably also put little thought into changing the containers.
While Johna says they can be frozen in the original packaging, "the wrappers they come in is not air-tight and quality may diminish over time."
Instead, she recommends to "overwrap them as you would with other products you store in the freezer so that they can be stored for a longer period."
7. Store by use-by date
When it comes to organizing your freezer after an audit, it's a good idea to begin storing by use-by date. If you have leftovers that will last a long time, or you've just done a huge shop that requires freezing, consider storing this at the back of your freezer. Keeping food that needs to be used quickly in your eyesight will mean it won't be forgotten about.
8. Keep meat and fish in the bottom drawer
In terms of deciding exactly where to store different types of food in a freezer, a great place to start is by placing meat and fish in the bottom drawer. This way, if you face a power outage that results in food thawing, or you're even victim to an unpleasant leak, then it can't contaminate food in drawers or shelves below.
9. Store daily essentials in the top drawer
No matter whether you want to know how to organize a chest freezer, a top freezer or a French-door fridge freezer, the top drawer is often the most narrow. This means it's unlikely to be the spot you want to store your leftover meals.
Instead, consider using it for smaller items such as ice trays, sauces, ice pops, or even pizzas that easily lie flat.
10. Leave less valuable food in the door
Just like a fridge door, Sue Spencer notes that a freezer door is "the least consistent temperature due to it being opened and closed frequently."
While it can act as a great spot to house your pint of ice cream, you run the risk of it not freezing properly. If you freeze any drinks, ice cubes, butter, or bread then this will be one of the best spots for it.
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