One More Simple Freezer Cooking Hack

posted by Andrea | 12/11/2017

Over the past 7+ years, I’ve shared countless freezer cooking recipes, tips, tricks, and suggestions… including the fact that I often use disposable foil pans and gallon size ziptop bags to save LOTS of freezer space.

The main downsize to using these disposable containers and bags, however, is the fact that they aren’t nearly as sturdy as other baking pans or food storage containers — so it’s really hard to stack items on top of each other (especially before the food is frozen solid).

You can sometimes get around this by freezing everything in a single layer and then stacking the pans and bags once the food is more solid. However, I often don’t have the space in my freezers to lay everything flat for the initial freeze.

One strategy that has been super helpful to me over my many years of freezer cooking (and a tip I apparently haven’t shared on the blog yet) is simply placing a sturdy piece of cardboard in between each foil pan and each bag of food.

The cardboard creates a sturdy, flat surface to place the next freezer item on, and as long as the piece of cardboard is as long as (or slightly longer than) the pan, it will prevent any food in the bottom pans from getting smashed (I always try to leave 1/4″ to 1/2″ headspace at the top of the pans).

The cardboard pieces will also prevent containers and bags from freezing together (often causing a rip or tear when you try pull the frozen containers or bags apart again).

Once the items are completely frozen solid, you can remove the cardboard — but I sometimes leave a piece or two in place if I have larger stacks of frozen foods.

These pieces of cardboard are also handy when filling coolers or taking food along to holiday parties, summer picnics, etc.

They allow me to stack my foods better, they work with hot and cold foods, and they can be thrown away if they get ripped, wet, or ruined.

I’m sure there are other things you could use (like a cutting board or the flat lid of another container) but cardboard is very easy to come by in our house, so that’s what I’ve always used.

I often cut off large flat sides of boxes from various shipments, and our Blue Apron deliveries also come with 1 thick piece of cardboard to separate various ingredients within each box.

I have a spot on top of our microwave where I store these pieces of cardboard — ready and waiting for more freezer cooking!

What are your best space-saving freezer tips?

Looking for more freezer tips and recipes? You’ll find all of mine right here!

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9 comments

  1. Getting Started with Freezer Cooking

    01/25/2018

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  2. Liane

    12/11/2017

    Genius! With all the amazon boxes we get cardboard is not a problem to find a piece. I also do Food Saver bags in freezer. All the air gets sucked out and there’s virtually no ice crystals forming. Your basement freezer is probably a better appliance than my kitchen side by side because the self defrost feature works by periodically warming the sides. So you get things like the veggies at the store that are just inside the door — tons of ice. I always reach waaaaay back when I buy stuff and then put the entire package into a Foodsaver. If it’s something I’ll use all at once, I heat seal it after poking a hole in the manufacturer’s bag. That way I get all the air out. For stuff I may only shake out a few pieces like fries or fruit I bought vacuum bags with zip tops. I was skeptical at first but we went camping in early October and a had a vac sealed bag with two pieces of cheese that somehow got left in the fridge of our camper. I brought it inside and it was just as fresh and pliable as it was when I bought it. I’m sold on vac sealing now and I love reuseable zip bags. I don’t use them for raw meat but for leftovers in the fridge like chicken pieces or open sliced cheese packs, and even zucchini.

    If I buy meat I immediately put it in zip vac bags. They move from my freezer to my fridge also and because they are completely sealed there is absolutely no meat juices from leaky meat trays.

    Now my freezer will be a little less like Jenga! with cardboard to separate. Once the are rigid I can stack them since they won’t freeze into funny shapes — like u shaped and v shaped or bent in right angles. Yay!

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  3. Annette Silveira

    12/11/2017

    That’s a great idea, one I will be using for sure!

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  4. Lynn

    12/11/2017

    Thanks Andrea! I too use this hack! A while back we wrote a post on our blog about single serving casserole – freezer meals ( https://fulltimefulllife.com/freezer-cooking-single-portioned-casseroles/). A picture I put in the post shows that I too used the cardboard. I recognized the same problem and tried to figure out how to do it. I keep my cardboard pieces in the freezer for the next round.

    Thanks so much for sharing, love your blog!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    great post Lynn — and honestly, why didn’t I think to just keep the chunks of cardboard in the freezer! Duh!

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  5. Crystal

    12/11/2017

    Hi Andrea,

    Great tip about the cardboard. Where do you usually purchase your foil pans? Is there a good place to buy in bulk that you use?

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    I get most of my foil pans from our local dollar store — sometimes I can get up to 10 for $1 !!!!!!!! It’s amazing!
    However, they are not as thick or “quality” as the ones from our grocery store. Costco also sells large quantities of a 9″ x 13″ pan for fairly cheap (and they are really good quality).

    [Reply]

  6. Rachel

    12/11/2017

    That’s simply clever! I am always trying to solve this “problem”. Thanks for another great tip!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    so simply and frugal — hope it works for you!

    [Reply]