Make the Most of Your Freezer Real Estate
There’s that famous old parable of the guy whose house was too small so he went to the Rabbi who told him to bring all sorts of things into the house - each day an additional animal. After a week he told him to take it all out and, bam, the house suddenly felt huge.
It kind of works with the freezer too… take everything out and it’ll be huge.
All jokes aside, Yom Tov is one of the hardest times when it comes to freezing and freezers because we all want to have it stocked but we don’t all have room.
Growing up my mother had (and still does have) three freezers. They were all always packed full. Several years ago I added some decor to my guest room in the shape of a chest freezer - best buy ever! But I still need to use my small one in my kitchen (that you saw during my takeover) and to be used, it needs to be clean and organized.
Behold, the bountiful harmony you'll soon be achieving in your very own freezer.
So here are some of my tried and true tips on organizing the freezer and maximizing the space you have.
- Invest in some good containers. Preferably all the same shape. I like the ziplock round ones or target brand square ones. For a cheap option, get the white plastic ones that they sell in all the local Jewish supermarkets (for New Yorkers).
- Silver foil containers are also your friend. 9x13, 5x7, go for the common sizes, not the weird ones. They stack well and they’re also really great for freezer-oven-table.
- Large freezer bags (aka ziplock) are great for sauces, soups and generally keeping things neat and viewable.
Now you are ready to go:
- Begin by emptying your freezer. Completely. Wipe it down, make it clean, you want it to look big and new.
- Group like items together - bags of frozen fruit and veg, flour bags, ices etc. By keeping things together then even if the freezer is packed to the brim, you still know what is behind there.
- Try to keep the door light (you want it to close). Ices, pastry doughs and open bags of frozen fruit/veg are good for the door.
- Think Tetris! You want to keep sizes and shapes together and don’t worry about little spaces that don’t fit a container - we’ll fill those up.
- Now you have your space and you are ready to pile those containers of food in. Start with the largest ones. The 9x13 and the big square containers.
- TIP: LABEL ALL CONTAINERS AT THE SIDE SO YOU CAN SEE WHAT IS INSIDE WITHOUT HAVING TO REMOVE EVERYTHING.
- Now you can start slotting the smaller containers in between. Soup containers can be placed in front of the larger containers too - there is usually a little space between where they end and the door has to close.
Here are some food storage tips to make even more space:
- Pour your soups and sauces into a freezer (ziplock) bag and lay them flat on top of the “roof” space above the containers to freeze. Once frozen they can be stacked standing or you can leave them flat on top of those containers.
- (This one is from my aunt in England) Freeze concentrated soup. Eg., add less water when making your soups, freeze them in smaller containers/bags and then add water when defrosting.
- Cook everything. Yes, we like fresh food but frozen food can taste just as good and by having it all cooked it saves you the worries of having raw/cooked together (even in a freezer you have to be careful until it freezes).
- To portion your food, instead of freezing it in separate containers and taking up more space, freeze it in the same container with parchment paper between so that you can slip it out and keep the rest frozen. Ie., put 10 meatballs into a plastic container, place a piece of parchment paper on top (covering the sides too) and place 10 more. Now you have two portions and you can just pull the parchment paper to defrost one. You can do this in a silver foil container too, or ziplock bags!
- If you only have enough soup or food to fill half a container, fill it, freeze it, and when you make more of the same just cool it and add it on top. Ie., Soup. You only filled half a container of chicken soup. Freeze it, when you make more just cool it and fill that container to the top. As long as it is all cooked and not mixed raw/cooked you’re good!
- Remove things from large unnecessary containers. A box of ices takes up more space than a few ices in a small ziplock bag.
- Prepping and freezing is great, for example, fish in marinade so you can just cook it quickly, I do that. But if you don’t have room for it, don’t do it. It will just stress you out more. Make the most of things that last such as sweet 'n sour salmon and spicy dips - they can stay in the fridge for a couple weeks and save you that freezer space.
Last but not least, there is usually one person in the house that is amazing at Tetris and just excels at creating the best and fullest freezer in the shortest time. In my house, it is my husband and although he hates the job title and your person will probably too (even if it is you), leave it up to them! They are good at what they do for a reason!
Have an amazing Yom Tov, fill that freezer, and don’t stress if there is no room for it. Send it to me - I will happily eat it for you!
Oops, one more thing because this should be highlighted throughout - CHECK YOUR FREEZER IS CLOSED BEFORE YOU GO TO BED EVERY. SINGLE. NIGHT.
Trust me, an open freezer for more than a couple hours is NOT something you want to deal with during this season. Check the door. Check it again. And check it a third time. This is not O.C.D., this is mandatory for life!
Check out the rest of our Dip the Apple holiday tips.