Cleaning and Organizing Your Deep Freezer (Video)

Cleaning and Organizing Your Freezer

Your freezer can be your best friend when it comes to meal planning – but only if you keep it properly maintained. It’s important to keep your freezer organized so you can make the most of the space available and find the items you’re looking for. I suggest that you put the heaviest items on the bottom of your deep freezer. This will ensure that more delicate items, such as loaves of bread and other baked goods don’t get crushed or otherwise damaged. It’s also a good idea to put meat on the bottom of your freezer, so if something happens to leak before it’s frozen, you don’t have chicken juice leaking on all of your other containers. This will be less likely to happen if you properly package your food for freezing.

Be sure to clearly label EVERYTHING with the date and contents.  Arrange your items in the freezer so that you can see labels and expiration dates. This will make it easy for you to identify and grab the item with the closest expiration date. This is especially important for your freezer cooking meals. If you don’t know what’s in a container, chances are it will languish at the back of the freezer and not get used.

It’s also a good idea to keep an inventory sheet of what you have in your freezer. You can write or type in your items and meals and check them off as you pull them out. This will also tell you when you’re about to run out of something. There’s nothing more frustrating than planning a meal around bone-in chicken breasts you swear you’ve got in your freezer – only to find out later you used the last of them several weeks ago.

It’s a good idea to defrost your deep freezer at least annually. Depending on the humidity where you live, you may need to do it more often than that. Any time you notice frost/ ice starting to build up, it’s time to defrost. If you don’t defrost on a regular basis, you are running the risk of increased freezer burn, plus your freezer won’t be working at optimal efficiency. I usually do this in January or February, when it’s freezing cold outside. I borrow a few extra coolers, load them up with my food, and put them out on the back deck (or in the garage if it’s cold enough) for a day or two while I let my freezer defrost. I scrub out the freezer really well before I load my food back into it. Certainly, you could let your freezer inventory get nice and low before you defrost. Or if you have friends or family with extra freezer space you could borrow for a few days; that will work too.

Want a copy of my Freezer Inventory sheet? Email me at Christine@ChristineLuken.com and I’ll gladly send it to you!

Meal Planning Monday ~ The Big Thaw

Frost

            Currently the East Coast is digging out from under three plus feet of snow from one of the worst snowstorms we’ve seen in a while.  We certainly hope all of our fans are safe and warm today.  So much for that groundhog’s prediction of an early spring!  Spring is inevitable though and will be here before we know it.  While you’re waiting for the warm weather to arrive, take advantage of these next few weeks of cold to tackle a meal planning chore – defrosting and cleaning your deep freezer.

            It’s important to defrost and give your freezer a good cleaning at least once a year, or any time there’s a good amount of frost build-up on the inside.  When the frost builds up, it keeps your freezer from running efficiently and can cause freezer burn due to uneven temperatures.  When you’ve invested time and money into making freezer meals and stockpiling sale items, the last thing you want is to have to throw away the fruits of your labor due to freezer burn.

            Every January or February, I pick a weekend when I know it’s going to be very cold.  My husband and I load up our reusable shopping bags with our freezer stash and take it out to the garage and put it in coolers.  (This is also a great time to weed through your freezer stockpile and throw away anything that is past its prime.)  We allow the freezer to defrost overnight, and then clean it really good the next day.  Then it’s time to reload the deep freezer and pop in a new box of baking soda to keep it fresh.

            I defrosted and cleaned my freezer a few weeks ago.  I noticed that there were some items in the freezer that needed to be used up soon before they expired.  So I’ve worked them into my meal plan for this week so nothing gets wasted.  Here’s my Meal Plan for this week:

Monday ~ Turkey Meatloaf with parmesan potatoes and green beans.  I bought a huge amount of fresh green beans from my produce co-op in October and froze them, so it’s time to use them up.

Tuesday ~ Grilled Chicken Tenderloins (Cracker Barrel style) with hash browns and spinach.

Wednesday ~ Fend For Yourself!  I have a financial coaching appointment, so it will be leftovers or grilled cheese and soup.

Thursday ~ Happy Valentine’s Day!  Since Nick is still working second shift this week, we’ll celebrate Valentine’s Day this Saturday.  Cilantro Lime Shrimp with rice and asparagus.  This shrimp is so simple to make and absolutely delicious!

Friday ~ Honey Lime Tilapia with garlic roasted cauliflower and zucchini

Saturday ~ If we don’t go out to eat tonight, I’ll make something easy in the crock pot, like beef stew or BBQ chicken thighs.

Sunday ~ Thanksgiving in February!  I purchased a 13-pound turkey during the Thanksgiving sales in November and put it in my deep freezer.  I’m having my husband’s family over for turkey dinner with all of the fixings.  And since my homemade mashed potatoes kind of suck, my sister-in-law, Emily, is going to bring some of her always-awesome mashed potatoes.  Thanks Sis!