We used to treat our freezers like temperature-controlled junk drawers. Three stray taquitos. A half bag of corn. Vintage pesto. But for strategic, economic cooking, something had to change.
These are the 13 tips that have helped us unlock our freezers’ full potential. Maybe you’ll find something useful in here—you know, between the ice cream cartons, the cooler packs, and the unlabeled quart container of…is it soup? too.
1. Always keep track of what’s inside.
Stick a list on the freezer door that says WHAT’S IN HERE? Cross out as you go.
2. Freeze flat, then store vertically.
The best way to store cooked grains, ready-to-reheat soups, and mashed bananas is in resealable bags that lie flat. Once solid, you can line them up like magazines.
3. Designate zones so you know what’s where.
4. For instant toast, slice your bread before you freeze it.
The day you buy a loaf of good bread, slice whatever you won’t eat for lunch and freeze it in a resealable bag. Toast slices directly from the freezer when the urge strikes and never suffer a stale heel again.
5. Buy fish once, eat fish
forever for many meals.
“Ordering fish in bulk and freezing it has been a game changer. There are mail-order companies shipping everything from wild salmon to octopus tentacles. My freezer’s packed with my last shipment from Fulton Fish Market. Because fish defrosts quickly in a bowl of cold water, I don’t even have to think that far ahead about making it for dinner.” —Emma Wartzman
6. Don’t toss the small stuff.
Tiny portions of these leftover ingredients will certainly come in handy:
Coconut milk, wine, and stock: freeze in ice cube trays, then transfer to bags
Minced ginger: bag it
Save tomato paste: label “NOT BLOOD”
Chiles in adobo: use for impromptu cashew salsa
Citrus juice: thaw for dressings
Cilantro stems: hello, chutney!
7. When you have big bunches of greens hogging the fridge, send ’em to the freezer.
“I’ve started blanching and freezing leafy greens like kale, Swiss chard, and mature spinach so I can instantly upgrade my omelets, pastas, and soups (and save valuable fridge real estate). I mold blanched, cooled, and roughly chopped greens into balls, squeezing out as much liquid as possible, before freezing them on a baking sheet until solid and transferring to a resealable bag.” —Christina Chaey
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