Space, Time, and Money-Saving Freezer Tips

posted by Andrea | 01/19/2011

It’s no secret — I LOVE organizing, I LOVE time management, and I LOVE saving money — so when it comes to grocery shopping, cooking, and kitchen storage, I’m all about saving space, time, and money!

I love buying in bulk to save money and planning my meals ahead to save time; but when we moved, I ended up with a much smaller freezer. So I had to get just a bit more creative with my freezer storage! And you know what, I actually ended up saving even more space, even more time, AND even more money in the process!

Here’s what I’ve been doing…

Shredded and Ground Meat:

I often cook big batches of chicken, turkey, ground beef, and ground turkey all at one time because it makes meal planning and cooking ahead SO much easier. Once the meat is cooked, I shred it, divide it up into 2-cup portions, stick it into 1-quart freezer bags, and label it.

The bags lay nice and flat in the freezer and the next time I need shredded or ground meat for a recipe, all I have to do is pull out a bag or two. And since the portions are smaller, the bags usually defrost in 30 minutes or less.

Whole Pieces of Meat:

I often purchase large amounts of meat when it goes on sale as a way to reduce our grocery budget. I might buy several whole chickens, an entire ham, or just a huge “family pack” of meat. However, I don’t like to freeze it all together because then it’s really hard to separate if I only need a few slices of ham or two chicken breasts. Plus, we don’t have room in our freezer for that much meat!

So instead, I divide up the meat into meal-size portions, place it into freezer bags, and stack them in the freezer. I often put two meals in one gallon-size bag — making sure to separate them so everything doesn’t freeze together. {Sometimes I even pour a little marinade in before I freeze them.}

Meat in Freezer Bags

You can leave your bags flat, or you can fold them in half to save even more space. Then when it’s time for dinner, simply remove the pieces of meat you need and stick the rest back into the freezer.

I also use this method for already cooked meat when we have WAY too many leftovers {like on Thanksgiving, Christmas, graduation parties, etc.}

Broth, Soups, and Stews:

At one point, I tried freezing my homemade broth, soups, and stews in freezer bags so they could lay flat; but this method leaked on me too many times, so now I freeze them in small stackable freezer containers {which you can purchase an any grocery store}

I have 2-cup and 4-cup containers. They all use the same lids and they stack wonderfully! I freezer broth in the 2-cup containers and soups and stews in the 4-cup containers.

Cheese:

Yes, you can freeze cheese!

Just like meat, I purchase huge amounts of cheese when it goes on sale. Then I slice it, shred it, crumble it, and store it in smaller portion-size freezer bags. And when we need cheese for a salad, casserole, or for a snack, I can pull out whatever size we need…and I hardly use up any freezer space!

Fruits and Veggies:

I grow and freeze all sorts of fruits and veggies to use in soups, stews, smoothies, breads, etc. all year long — and I store them all in 1-quart freezer bags.

For fruit, I simply wash, dry, and freezer. For vegetables, I often blanch them first. {If you are interested in learning more about freezing and blanching your vegetables, take a look at this free printable I created}.

By stacking bags of fruits and veggies, I save so much freezer space and it’s really easy to see what’s inside!

Frozen Bags of Zucchini

So that it!

Such as simple way to save a bunch of freezer space, a bunch of time, and a bunch of money!

What are your best freezer tips?

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16 comments

  1. Wendy (The Local Cook)

    01/19/2011

    I’m speechless. Definitely puts my vacuum sealer bags to shame!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Hmmm…I’ve never tried vacuum sealer bags!

    [Reply]

  2. Shelley

    01/19/2011

    I freeze corn with my mom and sister every summer (we shave it off the ears with an electric knife, blanch, cool, then freeze). My children will not touch canned corn or store-bought frozen corn…it’s like eating it fresh off the cob! Every fall, we make freezer apple pie filling, which can be used in about any apple dessert (or, my personal favorite, as a side with Sunday dinner).

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Shelley, thanks for the reminder that I REALLY need to start freezing my own corn! Now that we have more land at our new house, I’m planning to put a much bigger garden in and plant several rows of corn…I can’t wait!!

    [Reply]

  3. Megan Camp

    01/19/2011

    I do the same thing with much of my meat. I chop my chicken into cubes as we use it a lot in salads, enchiladas, quesadillas and other dishes. I love having it ready to pull out. I generally flash freeze it so it doesn’t stick together and then put it in a Ziplock and just pull out however much I need for a recipe.
    One of my favorite freezer items is my onion ice cubes. I HATE chopping onions and this makes it super easy for me. I do it with other fruits and veggies but I just wrote a post about the onion ice cubes on my Simply Thrifty blog recently. You can see the whole post here: http://simplythrifty.blogspot.com/2011/01/simple-kitchen-shortcuts-onion-ice.html

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Megan, thanks so much for sharing your onion cube idea — seriously, why didn’t I think of that!! I’ve already shared your tip {and your link} via Facebook and Twitter so hopefully a few others will benefit from your clever ideas too!

    [Reply]

  4. Sue

    01/20/2011

    Oh you should invest in a food saver vacuume sealer!.. I know they can be a bit pricey.. (we bought ours as an anniversary gift to each other) But they are wonderful againt freezer burn!.. I had bought fresh sausage put it in the same freezer bags that you show above it turned grey in a matter of like 2-3 weeks.. with the food saver, months later it was still pink and thawed beautifully..
    I have found the best prices are at BJ’s and Kohls( with their 30% off coupons of couse!) for the bags !
    Sue in NJ

    [Reply]

  5. Kim

    01/20/2011

    We do this same thing! I am recuperating from a surgery and this has made life sooooo much easier for my kids/hubby to get meals on the table. So I am passing on the way of life to my girls. They all help when we “process” the 30# of chicken or whatever when it comes home. Makes it not so overwhelming for me.

    [Reply]

  6. Shawna

    01/20/2011

    This is pretty awesome. I am definitely not using my freezer to its fullest potential.

    [Reply]

  7. What did you do today? » hunter shawna

    01/20/2011

    [...] Organized Living would fill my freeze with all her home grown veggies and shredded/ground meat. Her post actually makes me realize I am completely under utilizing my [...]

  8. Suzanne

    01/23/2011

    I also date my freezer bags so that I can make sure I use “oldest” to “youngest”. Sometimes something has been in the freezer too long and just needs to be tossed as well.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Yes, dates are a good thing! I also date my freezer foods so I know which ones to use first — I hate throwing food out!

    [Reply]

  9. Cortney scragg

    02/01/2012

    I freeze cheese all the time but i always thaw in refrigerater I think i does better than just laying it out.

    [Reply]

  10. Marie

    02/04/2012

    We also freeze milk. I buy it in bulk when it’s on sale and just freeze in the container it comes in. You could separate it into smaller containers, too, I suppose, but we go through a gallon in about a week and a half. It takes up quite a bit of space, so I usually just get 3-4 gallons at a time. Just be sure and shake it well once it thaws. It seems to take about 24 hours to thaw for us. Great idea about pre-slicing and shredding the cheese. I typically buy the 2 lb blocks and just cut them in fourths to freeze and then grate when needed. It would be easier to grate it all at once and freeze, I think, though!

    [Reply]

  11. L.L.

    02/12/2012

    I have no idea how to cook, so, how do u shred meat?

    [Reply]

  12. Karla

    11/13/2012

    When you freeze shredded cheese, you can put a little corn starch in with it & shake it up to coat cheese to prevent it from sticking together & mushing up.

    [Reply]