After I cleaned out my fridge I knew the freezer was not far behind. I found the freezer much easier to clean and organize for some reason, and I am not sure why. Maybe it was because I knew some of the items have been in my freezer since the ice age, or at least since “Ice Age” the movie came out on DVD. What I discovered were buried treasures that I had long forgot about. Like homemade pesto that I made from the basil in my garden back in 2010. I soon realized that we needed a new system in order to not waste the food and make a system easy enough for every member of our family to utilize. I must confess, I hate unpacking the groceries when I shop. It is a “chore” to find a home for everything. I try to do my shopping when I know my husband is going to be home, as he has a gift for finding unused space.
I am embarrassed at how much waste went on in my freezer. I would buy something that I think my kids would love, but they never did. What I should have done is taken them to a friends house for their family to use as soon as I realized my kids were not going to eat it. Instead they were now encased in ice and so freezer burned it was beyond human consumption. I know I am not alone in my buyers remorse issue with food in the freezer. I have that little voice in my head telling me, “but you paid good money for that!” Sure I paid good money for it, but right now it is taking up room in my freezer and I feel guilty every single time I look at it. It would be much better to remove it from the freezer as soon as I know we are never going to use it and give it to friends who perhaps will enjoy the item.
Along my journey of the 10 minute freezer clean out I learned a few things:
1. Group like items together. Pretend you are in the freezer section of your grocery store. Chances are you won’t find the chicken with the ice cream. For me it meant placing all the proteins in one area, all the carbs on another shelf and fruits and vegetables together.
2. Use smaller containers to contain. I created my own shelf in my freezer and grouped my fruits and veggies together in one area, with a clear definition of where each goes. Each section is labeled so when the groceries are put away, there is a well defined home for each item.
3. Start from the top and work your way down. As I would take each shelf out and wipe or wash, I would have things like a stray ice cube or an errant pecan fall to the next shelf. By working from the top down, gravity becomes your friend and all of those items collect at the bottom.
4. Wash or wipe down with warm soapy water. But then make sure that you dry very well before returning things back to the freezer, otherwise you will have created icy shelves and baskets.
5. Repeat twice a year. I like to go by the season change. I would do it once in the middle of fall and once in the middle of spring. Perhaps I purchased some T-bones on sale and I want to make sure that I grill them before I winterize my grill. Or perhaps I have some crock pot meals that need to be used up before I put my crock pot away for the summer.
6. Use it or lose it. If you don’t see yourself using that open bag of flax seed, get rid of it now or find a reason to use it. Find recipes and challenge yourself to use all of the items in your freezer within the week. It is time to let go of the guilt and start using what you have or be ok with getting rid of it. You could even challenge your family to a week of freezer fun. Make meals from things only found in your freezer. I did this one year when I forgot I had frozen some butternut squash. We had a delicious butternut squash curry soup for dinner that night.
Our kitchens are prime real estate in our homes and the fridge and freezer should be used as a temporary holding space. We do not want to put things in only to find them years later incased in ice or worse yet, mold. Take a few minutes and organize your freezer. You too may find food that you forgot about and can have a crazy week of “look what I found in the freezer” meals!
To Joyful, Simplified Living,
MS. Simplicity, also known as Melissa Schmalenberger operates her business as I Did it with MS. Simplicity. She is a Professional Organizer based out of Fargo, ND and her website can be found at http://www.mssimplicity.com/
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