Preparing Your Freezer For Fall

posted by Andrea | 09/30/2015
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As many of you know, I rely heavily on our deep freezer for quick meals, extra baked goods, pre-cooked and pre-portioned ingredients, and storing extra frozen foods to reduce the number of trips I need to make to the grocery store with 3 kids in tow.

And while I’m sure our deep freezer has saved us a significant amount of money these past 5 years, the biggest asset for me is the amount of time it saves me every week. I am able to pull full meals, pre-made baked goods, and various “parts” of meals from the freezer when I’m short on time (and hands) to cook.

Sometimes, I think I could start a blog entirely based around freezer cooking — but I’m sure it’s already been done, and I don’t have the energy to start anything new right now :)

And no, you DON’T need a big deep freezer to reap the benefits of freezer-cooking… you can read about my favorite space-saving freezer tips here!

In my opinion, Fall is one of the best times to fill your freezer — partially because of the busy back-to-school season, but also because the holidays are right around the corner; and just think how much less stressed you’ll be if you have a bunch of festive baked goods already stashed away for upcoming parties!

The cooler weather and shorter days allow me to spend more time in the kitchen without overheating the house and without kids begging to go back outside. In fact, Nora has actually become a pretty good kitchen helper, so we’ve been doing lots of cooking and baking while the boys take their afternoon naps!

However, before I start stashing food away in our freezer for another year, there are a few things I always do first to “prepare my freezer for Fall”.

1. Eat from the Freezer

Take a week (or several weeks) to go through your freezer and plan as many meals as you can based on the ingredients/meals/side dishes you already have in your freezer (and in your pantry).

This will help to make sure none of your current freezer goods get spoiled or ruined by freezer burn, and it should also save you a nice chunk of change on your grocery bill for those few weeks.

Get creative with your meal planning — and maybe even offer a few “free-for-all” nights where individuals can pick and choose what items they want to eat for dinner based on what leftovers and freezer meals are available.

I realize our kids are still pretty young, but Nora especially thinks it’s fun to eat weird combinations of food every now and then (think pickles + peaches + pasta + popsicles for a fun P-themed meal). This is a good way to clean out our fridge and freezer and also encourage the kids to try something new.

2. Defrost the Freezer

I know, you’re probably groaning at the thought of defrosting your freezer, but if you work quickly, it shouldn’t take long to have a sparkling clean, ice-free freezer, ready for another stash of delicious foods.

We usually defrost our freezer every-other year (or as needed) and it’s almost always in the Fall because it’s not so hot that our food melts immediately after we take it out, but not so cold that we freeze our butts off!

Plus, if you’ve been eating from your freezer like I suggested above, you shouldn’t have THAT much stuff to remove from the freezer.

3. Restock the Freezer

This is the fun part — at least for me. I love looking at a nearly empty freezer and slowly filling it back up again over the next month.

And notice I said “SLOWLY”!

Please do not think you need to have a freezer-cooking marathon and get every dish in your kitchen dirty making 200 different freezer meals.

As I mentioned last week, the important thing is to just get started. Make a double batch of something this week and next week — you’ll have 2 meals in the freezer after that. Then make some extra bars or cookies for the freezer the following week. And the next time you buy lots of meat, cook up some extra ground beef, sausage, or chicken and divide up the extras for the freezer.

Freezer cooking does not need to take all day (or even all afternoon). You can quickly and easily start stashing away extra freezer goodies with just a few extra minutes in the kitchen. I promise.

Just make sure you take the time to clearly label the contents and the date. (Yes, I speak from experience after defrosting a tub of unlabeled refried beans that I thought was chocolate frosting!)

A Few More Freezer Cooking Resources:

I hope that’s enough motivation, encouragement, and resources to get you excited to prepare your freezer for Fall! If not, I’ll just send Nora over to help you :)

What do you love most about freezer cooking?

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  1. Katie


    Ok Andrea… I finally got on board with making a budget, and now you (and Pinterest!) have got me excited about stocking up on freezer meals. I’ve gone through and read pretty much all of your freezer-posts today! But I have a feeling stocking the freezer is going to be tough on my new grocery budget… Maybe I’ll just work on it a little at a time.


    Andrea Reply:

    Katie, start with vegetable-base soups (you can probably find many veggies for super cheap right now), Pasta dishes (especially ones without meat), and lots of homemade breads/cookies. If you bake them from scratch, they are extremely cheap!

    Good luck :)


  2. Bama Girl


    Hi Andrea! Thank you so much for this inspiring post! Your freezer looks so nice and organized! Mine, not so much! I mostly freeze meats that I find on sale, and a few leftovers. I do have some fruits and veggies, however. You’ve inspired me to try and organize my freezer and make things a little easier to access! Love your site! Blessings from Bama!


  3. Catherine Mae


    My dad just got back from our other house in the northwest part of Washington and we have a friend over there that lives on our property and he canned a bunch of carrots, corn, green beans, and prob. a couple more vegetables and we have a good meatball recipe that i’m going to make a few bags of meatballs for the freezer! hopefully when our jalapenos come in and when our tomatoes and other vegetables are done we can use that to make freezer meals in the future! (esp. since our cucumbers since they have grown to the size of zucchini) thanks so much for this post! it reminded me :)


  4. Kaui @ Thrifty Military Mommy


    I’m certainly groaning about the thought of defrosting and cleaning my freezer, but it must be done!


  5. Kristen @ Joyfullythriving


    I love my deep freeze, too! Thanks to a power outage, my freezer is much emptier. I need to spend some time restocking. My favorite thing is to keep my freezer stocked with cookies. It’s so nice to have them already baked so if I have surprise company, I can quickly pull them out for a snack. They defrost so quickly that I can have a variety…and really impress others with my baking skills! :-)


  6. Preparing the Fall Kitchen - The Culinary Exchange


    […] 2. Organize the Freezer. […]

  7. Organize 365


    For the first time we have been eating everything in our pantry, refrigerator and freezer so we can start over. Our kids are 14 and 15 and their tastes have changed.

    I was so sick of seeing the same items in our freezer and pantry and “knowing” they would never be eaten.

    It has been 3 weeks and we are left with very few edible foods. :)

    This weekend I am deep cleaning everything – donating what is left and starting over.



    Andrea Reply:

    wow – -that’s great! I love getting the freezer and pantry nice and empty every now and then. It’s a great way to save on groceries — although then I end up spending more the next few weeks stocking back up again.


  8. Emma {Emma's Little Kitchen}


    Fab, helpful post! I need to be better at remembering what I have stashed away in my freezer :)


  9. Kim


    Hi Andrea! When looking at your freezer, I am surprised to not see any “bulk” purchases of chicken/beef/pork. Of course that doesn’t mean that you don’t, I just don’t see it :)

    Out of curiosity, have you considered buying a whole pig or a half/quarter beef directly from a farmer? I ask because we raise beef and many people who buy from us like knowing where their food comes from, as well as the fact that they no longer have to shop weekly for beef.

    I like to hear others feedback when it comes to buying directly from a farmer and decisions for/against it :)

    Thank you! Kim


    Andrea Reply:

    Hey Kim,
    All our meat is pre-portioned out and in the bottom drawer or in our upstairs freezer. I always divide it up before freezing it so it defrosts faster.

    We have not ever purchased large amounts of meat like you mentioned — mainly because we just don’t need that much right now and I don’t think our freezer could handle it all, in addition to everything else we put in there! Some day, when the kids are older and eating more, I would definitely consider this!


    Kim Reply:

    Thanks, Andrea! I just got a quarter beef yesterday and it took up about 2 shelves in our upright freezer. Not terrible, but my freezer doesn’t look nearly as organized as yours. :) Thanks again for the reply!


    JoDi Reply:

    We’ve been buying a quarter of completely grass fed beef for several years now, and I would never go back to supermarket beef! The quarter lasts the two of us about a year, but we don’t eat beef that often, maybe once a week. It includes a good amount of ground beef along with steaks and roasts. The flavor is so amazing, and what we pay is actually less than what we’d pay for the same cuts and quantity of conventional grain fed beef at the supermarket or even at Costco. I had pretty much stopped buying steaks at all before we found this farm because supermarket steaks were so tasteless and disappointing. The grass fed beef at the supermarket or farmer’s market tasted better but the price was outrageous, and it isn’t even grass finished. We just couldn’t afford it.

    I highly recommend that anyone look into local options for buying their beef in bulk whether you’re looking for grass fed or grain fed. It’s becoming much easier to find farmers who sell their beef directly to consumers.


  10. JoDi


    The thing I love most about our freezer is having an emergency meal or two ready to go for nights when things are going to be busy and I’m tempted to get take out. Saves us money and it’s healthier. I also like having homemade broth in the freezer to make fresh soup whe the urge hits!

    I can totally relate to the unlabeled mystery items in the freezer. Every time I’m tempted to put a container of some kind of sauce or meat juices from a roast in there unlabeled, I remember all the times I put something like that in there and swore I’d remember what is was when I needed it only to have no clue what on earth it was when I took it out! I keep masking tape and a permanent marker in a drawer by the fridge now to make it easy.


  11. Nancy


    Hi Andrea:
    I think your ideas and practices on freezing are so smart! I know you are very appreciative of your husband but I sure hope he appreciates all you do, too! I have a big question: what do you do if your electricity shuts off during our crazy, unpredictable Michigan weather? Do you have a generator back up. We don’t and that makes me nervous. Thanks.


    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Nancy… and yes, Dave is very appreciative of everything I do :)

    As for the electricity, I guess that’s just a gamble we’re willing to take! We do not have a generator, but we figure that if the power goes out, we can shove a bunch of stuff in our kitchen freezer, and we also have another fridge/freezer in our outbuilding that we could fill. And if it goes out in the winter, we could always put some of the things outside until it comes back on. The issue would be if the power went out while we were on vacation in the summer.

    One thing to think about is that your home owners insurance policy will sometimes cover food spoilage if you can estimate a value of what you had in there. That’s probably worth looking into before you start tossing any spoiled food :)


    Aa. Reply:

    I don’t remember where i read this, but someone said that if you have available space in your freezer, you should fill it with bottles or bags of wather, in case of a blackout, this would maintain low temperature longer. I believe that you can even use salted wather, since salt will make yhe wather to “defrost” (actually melt) faster than the food.


  12. Carrie


    I am curious to find the best method to thawing our upright freezer. Any help is appreciated! Thanks


    Andrea Reply:

    Here’s the full post I wrote about defrosting our deep freezer. Hopefully you find the tips you need in that post!