How to Organise Your Freezer
Don’t know about you, but we couldn’t live without our freezer! Building a weekly meal plan around what’s in your freezer drawers is a no-brainer; it’s a budget-friendly, time-saving practice that’ll minimise food waste too! Looking to spruce up your freezer routine? We’ve rounded up a few hints and tips to start you out on the right track.
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First thing’s first, have a clear out!
You don’t realise how therapeutic culling the contents of your freezer is until it’s sorted. When you’ve got an itch to organise your freezer drawers, the best thing to do is pull everything out and assess the situation. Check on expiry dates and make sure there aren’t any nasties in there you shouldn’t be eating (if you’re unsure, we’d strongly advise referring to the official NHS guidelines). The general consensus is that you can keep food frozen for around 6 months, although after 3 it’ll start to lose its flavour.
Once you’ve got a good idea of what is (and isn’t) staying, you can make sure to store the items that need eating urgently in your line of sight – so you won’t miss them next time you’re on the hunt for a quick, tasty fix!
No one wants to leave long-forgotten foods festering in their freezer. That’s why our latest food planner comes armed with a freezer tracker, so you’ll always know what’s next in line to be used up (bye-bye, food waste!).
If your freezer isn’t the frost-free kind, be sure to defrost it regularly so that layers of ice aren’t eating into your storage potential.
Make the most of the space you have
With a clearer idea of the kinds of foods you have a habit of freezing, you’ll probably start to see some obvious groups you can sort your foods into. This might mean having a designated drawer for meat products, fruits and vegetables, a specific space for breads, batch-cooked dinners and ready meals – it will vary, depending on how you like to keep yourself stocked!
Not everyone has a massive freezer, so making the most of the space you do have is essential for staying organised. Creating drawers within drawers (by using easy-access wire baskets) is a handy hack to make some space between different food items. If you have a chest freezer, you can stack the baskets on top of each other, making it so much easier to remove the top layer and access the bulkier items stored at the bottom.
No matter the size of your freezer, it’s always a good idea to discard packaging. Removing and recycling cardboard boxes can free up some much-needed space in your drawers. There’s nothing worse than items in the freezer being unidentifiable, so be sure to store your food in clear, airtight containers – they’re easy to label and they’ll protect your food from pesky freezer burn too!
If your freezer space is tall enough (typically if you have a freezer with shelves or larger drawers), it can be a space-saver to store foods on their side rather than laying them flat. Ready meal items for rainy days, like pizzas, should stack nicely together vertically, and it will be so much easier to see what you have to choose from all at once!
Stock up on freezer basics
Freezers aren’t just for ready meals, batch-cooked meals and leftovers, they’re also a dream for stocking up on money-saving basics! So many different cooking essentials can be purchased in frozen form, including fruit and veg, meat, plant-based meat alternatives, fish, herbs and spices. Buying frozen often works out cheaper than buying fresh, and frozen foods last so much longer than fresh alternatives.
Whether you eat a lot of fruit already or you’re trying to include more in your diet, stocking up on frozen fruit favourites will make sure you’re always ready to top your morning porridge, whip up a smoothie or freshen up a salad. You can even turn frozen berries into a decadent dessert by rustling up our Winter Berry Ice Cream…
While we like to cook with dried herbs where we can, some recipes are better off using fresh. If you’re ever stuck with fresh herb leftovers, don’t throw them away. Chop them finely, pop them in an ice cube tray and fill it with water. It’ll leave you with flavour-filled cubes you can chuck directly into countless tasty dishes!
Meal plan around your freezer
Thanks to the luxury of freezing, bulk buying where it saves you some pennies is a winning trick. More expensive options like meat or fish can be cheaper when bought in bulk, especially from local butchers, and they’re perfect to keep in the freezer – so long as they’re labelled up properly, and thoroughly defrosted before use!
While you’re having your weekly meal-planning session with your planner in hand, it’s good to think about how what you’ve got in your drawers can go a little further. If you’ve got minced meat that needs using up, you can make a variety of dishes, from crowd-pleasing Spaghetti Bolognese to Chilli Con Carne. Many of our recipes are ideal for rustling up and reusing another day. If you love a chilli and you’d rather mix it up a bit, try serving our Chilli Stuffed Sweet Potato Skins instead. We can’t think of a better place to put your ready-seasoned mince leftovers from chilli night, especially with that melty, cheese topping!
Cooking from scratch with fresh ingredients daily isn’t always best for your budget. It’s good to get into the habit of making more than you need, and saving a few portions in the freezer for busier days. We have so many slimming-friendly batch cook recipes you can have a look through here, but one of our favourites has to be our Mushroom Bolognese. This meat-free dish isn’t just a freezer-friendly wonder, it also gives you value for money.
By using plenty of veggies, and other inexpensive ingredients you’ve likely already got in your store cupboard, we’ve kept the cost as low as the calories (just 119 per portion!).
When you know you’re making veggie-laden recipes like bakes, pies or rice dishes, you’re bound to be left with a few extra veggies you’re not sure what to do with. We’d recommend chopping them down and freezing them (your future self will thank you), so there’s no faffing around when you want to make hot dishes like Minestrone Soup heartier in an instant.
Use labels and keep organised
We can’t stress the importance of labelling enough! Planning is even harder if you don’t know what you’re looking at or how urgently things need eating, so investing in some easy-peel freezer labels will help spruce up your freezer contents. Make sure you buy labels like these that are designed to withstand extreme temperatures. They’re also nice and easy to remove, so no need to worry about residual stickiness spoiling your see-through containers.
Writing the date of when you store your food is so important. Not only does it keep your family safe, it also helps you mind your budget and avoid disappointment (there’s nothing worse than having to bin a funky portion of Lasagne when you’ve been looking forward to it all day!).
By getting your freezer organised, it’ll automatically become easier to smash your slimming goals and keep on top of your budget. Alongside a freezer tracker, we’ve added space in our Family Meal Planner to note down firm favourites and update your shopping list week-by-week, so you can keep the family happy time and time again while smashing your weightloss goals (oh, and it comes with 26 new and exclusive family-friendly recipes too!).
Ready to get organised?
What are your go-to freezer tips? Share them with us over in our Facebook group, where we have almost 1 million members waiting to support you on your slimming journey!
Did you know that you can now share your hints, tips, quotes and photos in our PON gallery too? We’d highly recommend going for a scroll through the submissions we’ve had so far if you’re looking for some inspiration…