Thursday, October 11, 2012

Using Your Freezer Effectively

This summer I purchased a deep freezer for $60 on Craigslist. I bought it because I was feeling guilty for all the room I was taking up in the tiny freezer I share with a roommate. However, that freezer has changed the way I eat and cook. It also has paid for itself several times over again. Here is how:
  • I can buy large amounts of meat while it is on sale. Meat is easily the biggest part of my grocery budget.
  • I can now buy meat at Costco, which comes in such large amounts I could not take up all that room in our little freezer. Costco meat is about the same price as grocery store sales and the quality is much better. 
  • I can cook large amounts of things such as wild rice hot dish, sweet and sour stew, chicken soup and freezer the leftovers for quick and easy meals
  • While frozen vegetables are not my favorite, it is nice to be able to keep a few packages on hand for a quick meal. 
  • When I have food on hand, I avoid extra grocery store trips which saves money 
However, your freezer can cost you a lot of money if you do not use it effectively. You have to store things so they do not get freezer burned. I highly recommend the ziploc perfect portion bags. I tightly wrap food in the portioning bags, and then place those in a freezer bag. I label each freezer bag with the contents and the date it went into the freezer. Another solution is a Food Saver system. My dad uses it and I cannot say enough good things about it. He gives me frozen fish and wild game and I have never had a problem with freezer burn. I would own one if I had more space. From experience, I will tell you that normal ziploc style bags do not work (maybe if placed in a freezer bag?) and tupperware is even a more terrible idea.

Another recommendation I have is keeping inventory of what is in your freezer. I have a chest style freezer and things can very easily fall to the bottom as I am searching for something else and get forgotten. Either you will find something down there and be completely disgusted at how long it has been in there and not want to eat it or you will buy things you do not need because of the forgotten food towards the bottom.

And one last tip--when you buy food you intend to freeze, do it right away. Otherwise it will just sit in your fridge and by the time you get to it, it might be too late to send it to the freezer.

I know eating out of the freezer is not for everyone. I do prefer fresh over frozen any day, but for the sake of my budget and for the sake of convenience, the freezer is great.

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