Don’t Let Your Freezer Turn into a Dungeon


Has Your Freezer Become a Dungeon?

Ms. Krieger wrote that she forgets about food that’s in the freezer more than a week or two. I think two weeks is pretty good—many cooks forget about it as soon as they close the freezer door.

I have several suggestions that I hope will help. But a system only works if you use it. So pick one that you can live with, and give it a few tries before giving up.

  • Keep a written inventory. Keep a whiteboard or page near your refrigerator with a list of everything that goes into your freezer. Cross items off as you remove them.
  • Place things you want to use in a visible location. When you put something in the freezer , don’t push the older foods to the back. Bring older foods forward instead. Also, divide your freezer into sections, keeping the cooked foods near each other so you can look through them easily.
  • Keep things neat. Stack foods in similarly shaped containers. Combine smaller items into boxes or larger containers.
  • Plan menus and shopping lists with your freezer in mind.
  • Label your food and include the date. Some containers let youset the month, or use a whiteboard marker.
  • Go through your freezer on a regular basis.

But Ms. Krieger, I don’t find anything wrong with keeping well-wrapped foods in your freezer for longer than two weeks. Yes, it’s good to rotate things. And your freezer shouldn’t be so crowded that you can’t take advantage of a sale or spontaneous baking session. Cleaning is  a good idea too, once in awhile. When you are really in a pinch, you’ll (probably) remember what you have.

When I was extremely ill for a few days, so I pulled out all kinds of good things that get us through. Just before Passover this year, when I was busy  with cleaning, we ate two delicious containers of lentil soup that had been in the freezer all winter. I hadn’t forgotten about them. I just like to cook fresh soup in the winter, so I had no need for the frozen ones.

Your freezer is a) a place for foods that need to be frozen, like ice cream, b) an aide on a daily basis for making quick meals, so long as you remember to defrost and c) an emergency storage system for a time of stress or illness, whether for yourself or a neighbor.

Use your freezer wisely and thoughtfully. Don’t let it become a dungeon of  forgotten scraps.

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  1. Those are good tips. I used to keep an inventory, but that was years ago. Now I just go through my freezer regularly, and since I’m usually freezing meal components and not whole meals, I remember what I have.

    Another tip is to have a regular “eat from the freezer” day. It’s nice to have a no-cook day and that way you go through your inventory and stay on top of things.

  2. Thanks for the terrific tips. I find that forgotten food from my freezer is so useful when I’m busy testing recipes and don’t have time to cook a meal.

  3. Great tips – I try to use them myself. But my husband (the chief cook at home) doesn’t use them. Without co-operation, they just don’t work. (Still, as long as he’s cooking, I can’t complain too much, can I?)

  4. Since this past Pesach I’ve started labeling and dating food. One of the few games I hate playing is “What is this?” It’s like George Carlin used to say in his Icebox Man skit, “Is it meat? Is it cake? It’s meatcake!”

  5. Ms. Krieger says

    Thanks for the tips! I like your white board inventory suggestion – that’s an excellent idea. And compartmentalizing the freezer with boxes, so like foods can be stored with like, and moved around easily!