Right now Instagram and Facebook feeds are bursting at the seams with those adorable back-to-school photos of kiddos growing up and faces radiating great anticipation of the day ahead. Friends, it’s back to routine time. Back to school also means that fall weather is just around the corner and that our favorite comfort foods are coming back into our lives. Soon, very soon, we’ll be firing up those ovens and happily letting its warmth permeate our living rooms without worrying about the electric bill. Just like daylight saving time is a timely reminder for us to replace the batteries in our fire alarms, back to school is a timely reminder for us to take stock of our freezer and prepare for what’s ahead. It’s time to shop our freezer.
Shopping down our freezers simply means that it is time to clean out the old and prepare for the new. Throwing out freezer burned foods is just as frustrating as throwing out wilted and rotten fresh vegetables. Both are completely avoidable. All it takes is a little bit of planning and action.
First, remove all frozen meats and assess dates.
Pull them out. Allllll the meats. Arrange by type of meat such as chicken, ground beef, beef and fish. Are there mystery meats in the bunch? Are there specialty meats that you purchased on impulse because they were marked down or sounded interesting at the time? Are you seeing a trend here? If it looks freezer burned, it probably is. Start fresh by throwing out anything freezer burned beyond repair or has ancient expiration dates. Restack everything with the newest dates in the back. Why? Our freezers are meant to help us in meal preparation, not become one more layer of cluttered overwhelm. The goal is to keep things moving so we can have the freshest experience. So, toss anything out not worth eating and start shopping your freezer over the next few weeks to prepare for the upcoming fall main dishes.
Next, evaluate the freshness of your frozen produce.
For those who had gardens this year or planned ahead by freezing homemade or locally grown fruits and vegetables, I applaud you! For the rest of us, organic freshly-frozen produce is the next best thing. Just like the meat assessment, it’s time to evaluate the freshness of our frozen fruits and vegetables stash. Pull them out. Allllll the produce. Arrange by fruits and vegetables. Is there an overabundance of a particular variety? Are there mystery bags in the bunch? If it looks freezer burned, it probably is. Restack everything in groups and plan to start cooking with those items that you have an abundance of. Again, our freezers are meant to help us in meal preparation, so let’s banish the clutter. Start shopping your freezer over the next few weeks to prepare for the upcoming fall fruits and vegetable ingredients.
Finally, it’s time to get real with all the “extra stuff.”
That stuff is just taking up space. No worries though, it happens to the best of us. A tucked-away leftover pizza slice here, an overabundant pot of chili there, or a purchase that we fully intended to “get into.” For example, I have an entire freezer shelf of orange roughy, flounder, sea bass, cod and salmon. However, my husband doesn’t like fish and I actually prefer it fresh. Instead of that valuable freezer real estate going to fish, I should instead dedicate it to something we eat often, such as frozen cauliflower. See where I am going here? The goal is to get it moving, get it out, and start shopping down your freezer. Write down on a post-it note all the frozen foods you want to incorporate into meals over the next few weeks. See how easy this is? We’re already winning at this back-to-routine phase before autumn arrives! Go us!!
Have you ever been overwhelmed by your freezer? Do you wish you had a freezer stocking strategy? Subscribe to nwafoodie as I give helpful tips in the coming weeks related to stocking and shopping your freezer, pantry and refrigerator. It will be fun, I promise.
Eat well, my friends. Eat well.