Your Freezer: A Great Partner in Saving Money and Time

December 9, 2009 at 5:48 pm Leave a comment

When I was growing up, my family had four freezers: small ones attached to our big and small refrigerators, a big one the size of a fridge, and a deep freeze in the garage. My mother and grandmother were freezer fanatics. When chickens were on sale and there was a limit on how many you could buy, the whole family would trek to the store with cash in hand to stand in different lines with our load of chickens so we could take maximum advantage of the sale. We froze the ends of bread that no one really wanted to eat to make bread crumbs and stuffing. We’d even freeze the bread itself if we could get a good deal on it.

For many years after I moved out and started my own home I only had the one freezer attached to my refrigerator, so I got away from using the freezer as a way to take advantage of great prices on freezable food and as tool for making nightly dinners easier to make. While I don’t think I’ll ever be as freezer-happy as my mother and grandmother were, there is something to be said for making better use of the freezer. Certainly when I find a great deal on a protein my family really enjoys, there’s no harm in buying an extra 1 or 2 pounds to use in the next month. And, next time I make meatballs or a lasagna, I can double the batch and put half in the freezer. Yep, there are definite possibilities.

I’m not alone in this – the blogosphere is full of freezer proponents who have all sorts of handy tips on how to help it help you. Here are a few of the posts that I found to be helpful – I hope you will as well.

  • Use your freezer to help you stay within time and budget constraints. If you catch a really great sale or have a coupon that’s expiring but won’t use all of what you’re buying that week, you can take advantage of the savings and freeze the extra. You can also keep week-night cooking times to a minimum if you do some of the work for several meals ahead of time and freeze the beginnings of a meal. The Life as a Mom team has three really great articles that help you figure out how to make the most of your budget, your time, and your freezer:
  • Keep an inventory. A freezer can quickly turn from your partner in savings to a bottomless pit of food you never eat. Tricia at Once a Month Mom relates a really funny story about what happened when she let her freezer get ahead of her. She also has a fantastic freezer inventory template that makes it easy to keep track of what’s in your freezer so you can include your hoard in your weekly meal planning. I use this approach personally and find that it’s very helpful. Be sure to store the inventory somewhere easy to see, like right on the front of the fridge.
  • Package and store carefully. It’s important to store food properly in the freezer so it will still be good (and safe) when you’re ready to use it. Keep a collection of freezer supplies on hand (bags, labels, ice cube trays for soup, etc.) so you’re ready to put food up. The Cents to Get Debt Free blog has a wonderful overview of how to store your food in the freezer, along with some more information on keeping an inventory.
  • Put ice cube trays to work. You’d be surprised at what you can freeze in small batches in an ice cube tray. While soups and stocks come immediately to mind, fresh herbs and coffee are candidates as well. The Prudent Pantry has a nice overview of ways to make the most of ice cube trays for freezing food that I think will surprise you.
  • Test the waters. If you aren’t sure how you feel about the idea of making meals ahead and freezing them, try it out a few times and see if it works well for your family and your routine. Moms in a Blog has some great freezer-friendly recipes to get you started.

How do you use the freezer, or do you at all? If so, what are some of your favorite tricks for making it work for you? If not, what’s holiday you back? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Freezer on Foodista Browse freezer-friendly recipes

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Entry filed under: Food Costs and Budgeting, Healthy Eating, Tips & Tricks.

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