Organize. Budget. Plan. Diet. What a perfect time of year to focus on getting organized and tidy in one or more areas, such as, ahem, my closets. But closets are for another day. Today is about the freezer. I’m not really a New Year’s resolution sort of gal, but I do like this time of year for checking in about my habits and making sure that I’ve got a good handle on the life I’m choosing by the choices I’m making. And while the garden is asleep and the winds whip and roar outside, it feels satisfying to turn my attention toward the house and our inside life.
One of the things I focused on last year around this time was our food waste. And while the compost pile is always ready and willing to receive any and all organic matter, I wanted to get even better at consuming our food before it headed to the big pile out back. I already had a handle on rotating stock in the fridge, using up pantry items, and having a pretty good plan for leftovers and little bits. I’ve written about good strategies for leftovers before and will be sharing more as we go along this winter.
The freezer, however, was another story. You know, that place that we relegate unused food, wait until it has freezer burn, and then a year later throw the unlabled and unknown mystery items into the compost pile? Might as well be Siberia. Yup. That’s the thing I wanted to be better at. So I’ve come up with a couple of strategies – all of which I knew and none of which I did much of until last year.
All of the changes I made were fairly small and didn’t take much doing, but the biggest of all was labeling everything that went into the freezer.
Basically, if I don’t label, I may as well just skip the freezer and toss everything in to the compost bucket straight off. Once something goes into the freezer without a label, it’s never coming out as something useful. Why not? Because I NEVER remember what the thing is. I always tell myself I will. But I don’t. Because it get moved around. Because once it’s frozen it doesn’t look exactly as it did when I first put it in there. Because I can’t smell it to figure out what it is. Because I can’t taste it to figure out what it is. Because. Just. Label.
Once I gave in to the idea that my intellectual prowess was not strong enough to overcome the freezer vortex, I started to love opening the freezer. A year later it’s even more organized than it was initially and it’s something I use all the time, not a place to relegate unmentionables.
To make things easy, because who has time for anything else, here are a few tips:
- Make up labels ahead of time, so all you need to do is write and slap
- Store the labels and pen in the kitchen somewhere close
- Use a waterproof pen or marker, not a gel pen that will smear if it gets wet
- Label the top of the lids for a bottom or chest freezer and the side of the containers for a top freezer so you can see the label easily
- Date everything
More to come in this series – stay tuned!