We want to share our best Tips for Maximizing your Fridge & Freezer Food because globally we are all dealing with the effects of the current health issues. We are all in the same boat, wherever we live on this beautiful planet, we are all striving to supply good nutrition and meals for our families. Increasing the longevity of our fresh food stores is vital as restrictions are tightening world wide. It’s important to maximize the storage life of all the food in our refrigerators and freezers by implementing some simple tips. We love you and want to support you, especially during this time, with tips and recipe ideas to keep you and your families healthy. Most of you know that I (Ruthie) am currently in Greece I wrote a post last week giving 10 Lockdown Tips; Healthy Body & Mind. We are approximately three weeks ahead of the states in a lockdown. I hope you’ll find somethings helpful. 🙂
It’s Fit Friday and we are shakin’ it up this week with a family friendly workout! Nichole from Pure Clean Fitness is the best! She’s been with us on Friday’s for over 5 years now and we love her! If you want check out more of our Fit Friday posts then CLICK HERE!
Lets get started, Tips for Maximizing your Fridge & Freezer Food
I am a chef and maximizing the shelf life of foods is something I’ve been trained in. It is key in any professional kitchen to maximize fresh food stores, there by reducing waste and increasing profitability. The same techniques apply to our at home refrigerators and freezers! We are all facing trying times so it’s even more important to get the greatest shelf life we can out of our fresh food supplies.
• First things first: Take an in depth inventory and inspection of the food that is in your fridge and freezer.
• Write a list: Jot down what you already have on hand so you have a clear picture of where you stand.
• From this list, you can decide what you will need to purchase to make meals.
• Keep this list on the fridge for a quick reference with recipes ideas of what you will be making.
• Adjust the list as items are used so you know when you need to shop again and what you will need to purchase.
• Inspect as you go: Check expiration dates and condition of the food that’s in your fridge and freezer as you write your list.
• Throw away all food from the fridge that is out of date or moldy.
• The freezer has a longer life than the refrigerator. My rule of thumb is ultimately to gauge per item and I share more below.
• Continue reading below for all my best tips on processing fridge to freezer and freezer do’s and dont’s.
• Peace of mind: Keeping tabs on the inflow and outflow of the food in fridge and freezer brings peace of mind.
• Knowing where your refrigerator stands brings confidence that you are able to feed your family healthy and nutritious meals.
• It also enables you to process fresh food in the fridge to the freezer before it expires or molds; therefore increasing shelf life and value of the food you have and/or will be purchasing.
• Maximizing your resources and food supplies are always good idea and especially important during this time.
• Remember FIFO: First In, First Out. This rule applies to all the items in your pantry, fridge, and freezer. To keep the rotation of food flowing and ensure you are using it oldest to newest remember FIFO! Use this rule of thumb and you’ll have no troubles at all!
Processing Fridge to Freezer; Tips for Maximizing your Fridge & Freezer
I want to share some tips about processing fridge to freezer to maximize the shelf life of the fresh food you have and/or will be purchasing. Sometimes the freezer gets a bad wrap… “things just don’t taste the same”, some people say! I’m here to tell you that if it’s done correctly, it is possible to greatly extend the shelf life of your fridge while still maintaining flavor and quality. The freezer is a very good way to store food and with a few simple tricks, you can fall in love with your freezer, too! 🙂
- Rotate, rotate, rotate! Okay, do not let your freezer become the black hole where no food ever returns.
- Keep a happy refrigerator: Here are my tips for increasing the wellness of your fridge and freezer.
• A regular wipe down and sanitizing of refrigerator shelves will keep the aromas pleasant. Quickly cleaning up any spills will ensure everything remains tasting and smelling good!
• Keep the freezer ice free; even with our modern freezers icy spots can happen so take care to remove it before it builds up.
• Placing a vented box of double acting baking soda in the freezer and the fridge helps to reduce the chance of off-flavors.
- Freezer Burn: It is REAL. It definitely happens, as most of us know.
• The best tips to avoid freezer burn is to double wrap any food that you expect will be in freezer storage for more than 2-3 weeks.
• As you wrap it twice, it’s very important to remove as much air as possible. Either wrap in two layers of plastic wrap or one layer plastic wrap and then into a zip top freezer bag again compressing it, to release as much air as you possibly can.
• It’s possible to successfully freeze all animal proteins, non-animal proteins, most dairy, fresh fruits, partially cooked vegetables, grains and legumes, as well as saving leftovers for a future meals.
- Process fridge to freezer: Watch the items in your fridge and before they expire or get moldy, put them in the freezer for longer storage. Read below for tips on how to best do this! 🙂
- Press flat and stack: I recommend pressing everything as thin and flat as possible so you can stack items nicely in the freezer. Even leftovers, soups, sauces, can all be layered flat to freeze. It makes getting in out of the freezer a much nicer experience.
- Always Label and Date: Keep a permanent marker handy to clearly label and date your freezer items.
Freezer Do’s and Dont’s; Tips for Maximizing your Fridge & Freezer
• Proteins: Proteins are one of the most expensive items we buy: beef, chicken, pork, and non-animal proteins too. So, getting the most bang out of your buck is super important.
• Divide, Cook, Freeze: Purchase in large amounts to save money and time. It is helpful to have protein in the fridge and freezer to make meal prep more simple. Divide protein into desired serving sizes. Package half of it raw and half of it cooked according to how you intend to use it ie: dinner casseroles, quick tacos, add to a jar of spaghetti sauce, shredded for sandwiches and salads, and more!
• Ground Beef: If I’m working with ground beef, I will cook at least half of it with onions and seasoning. Then allow to cool to room temperature and package into smaller serving sizes. Remember to label and date. Freeze thin and flat so it stacks nicely in the freezer.
Then its right ready to go into many recipes, like these:
- Quick and Dirty Chili
- Slow Cooker Vegetable Beef Soup
- Gram’s Famous Barbecues
- Slow Cooker Lumberjack Chili
- Taco Casserole Recipe
- Easy Peasy Stroganoff
• Whole Chicken: Purchasing the whole chicken gives you plenty of options for making recipes. I prefer to remove the skin and freeze some raw and some cooked. I will make chicken soup by boiling the bones, legs and thighs, and any other less liked portions of meat. Then cook and shred half of the remaining chicken and the rest raw in serving sizes to cook as I need them. Breaking down a whole chicken is not as tricky as you might think. I prefer to remove the skin and discard it. Follow this video tutorial to learn how – How to cut up a chicken. Yes, you CAN do it!
- Slow Cooker Chicken Taco Soup
- Crockpot White Chicken Chili Recipe
- BBQ Shredded Chicken Sandwich
- Poppyseed Chicken with Rice Recipe
• Freeze Dairy: Most dairy freezes very well. Milk (skim-whole), Buttermilk, Heavy Cream, Hard and Soft Cheese, and you’ll expand the shelf life up to 3-6 months.
• Milk and Heavy Cream: Did you know that milk and dairy liquids freeze really well and last 3-6 months frozen? The trick it to leave enough head space (air) for it to expand durning freezing. Typically this is 1/2 inch for pints and 1 inch for quarts.
• Hard and Semi-hard Cheeses: All types of cheese freeze very well. It’s simple to use shredded cheese as needed from the freezer.
• Sour Cream: You can freeze sour cream, but the texture will change considerably. Your sour cream won’t get any fresher than it is on the day you put it in the freezer. Freezing may stop time temporarily, but it doesn’t unwind it. So, be sure to freeze your sour cream while it’s still fresh.
• Soft Cheeses: Cottage cheese doesn’t freeze very well. During the freezing process, cottage cheese loses some of its texture and flavor due to its liquid content. However, if frozen, it can still be used in cooked dishes like lasagna, casseroles, soups, cakes and sauces. Cream Cheese will do pretty well, with only a slight change to the texture, causing it to become a little more crumbly… So, it’s also best in cooked dishes.
• All Fruit Freezes: We especially love frozen bananas, grapes, and berries. They are great as toppings and snacks. Did you know frozen bananas turn creamy in texture and with their natural sweetness it’s like a treat! 🙂
• Allow fruit to ripen on the counter.
• When its almost reached its prime ripeness put into fridge to lengthen the life.
• As fruit in fridge begins to show signs of becoming over-ripe simply cut into small 1-2 inch sections and toss into the freezer for make smoothies or toppings later.
• Vegetables- Most vegetables will freeze great they just require a partial cooking first. Sauté, oven roast, steam, boil or cook at least partially or half way to slow the enzymes. Many vegetables can be frozen without blanching (although their shelf lives in the freezer will be shorter), and greens can be stir-fried instead of blanched for a better product.
• If properly stored, vegetables can last up to a year in your freezer.
• You can freeze onions, pumpkins, squash, tomatoes, and corn.
• Cucumbers, peppers, leafy greens such as spinach, chard and kale can be placed in a covered container of water in the fridge to extend their life substantially. If you notice them beginning to wilt- they just need some water! You can double the shelf life with this trick. All of them can also be frozen and do not require par-cooking if used in about a month. Once frozen they are simple to add to sautés, sauces, stir fry, soups or smoothies.
• Lengthen the shelf life by trimming the bottom of herbs and leaf lettuces and place in a shallow container of water. It is a good idea to lightly cover it with a plastic bag so the tips have some protection in the fridge. To keep them happy for 3-4 weeks trim and change the water once a week.
• Breads: All bread products are 100% awesome items to freeze. Think more that just bread though… Tortillas, Pitas, Bread Sticks, Loaves, Doughs, and so on.
• Double wrapping to ensure freshness.
• If it gets a little icy, simply knock off the ice into the sink and still use it! By defrosting with as little ice as possible you’ll avoid having it getting soggy.
• I like to slice and drizzle with olive oil, then place under the broiler to get it nice and toasty. Delish!
Miss Nichole’s Fit Friday, Family Style!
We’ve learned all about maximizing our food for our family and now, Nichole is going to bring it home with a family friendly workout! Thank you, Nichole!!
Life has taken a turn for all of us over the last few days. I have developed a whole new level of gratitude for teachers and every one else that is a part of my kids’ lives. Amazing people that help me keep my sanity while my kids learn, grow, and move…a lot!
During these next few weeks it is my turn to help my kids learn, grow, move, and stay healthy. Right now I am focused on today. What can I do today? I can’t stress about tomorrow, there are too many unknowns and so few answers. I will drive myself batty stressing about tomorrow. So, let’s take a peak at today.
One of the things that has been greatly reinforced is the fact, yes FACT, that my kids need to move. We have taken a few walks and what not, but it hasn’t been enough. Today we had a kid friendly Tabata challenge, winner got to pick the movie for that night.
I love Tabata for kids because they only have to work hard for 20 seconds, break anything down to 20 second pushes and it is totally doable.
If your kids are not down for the full rounds of Tabata adjust it, do half the sets or even just one round of each. You know your kids, you decide what works for them. Just make it fun!
And, of course, take this time to show your kids how tough you are.
We hope our Tips for Maximizing your Fridge & Freezer Food is filled with good ideas for your kitchen!
We love to hear about your magical cooking moments. If you get a chance to make our recipes then leave us a comment or tag us on Instagram @cookingwithruthie, pin us on Pinterest, or follow along with us on Facebook so we can share in the joy of cooking with you! Please reach out if you have questions or comments via our email: [email protected] We’re excited to see you again soon!
One more thing before you go…
We love creating recipes and sharing our adventures with you, so if you can do us a huge favor it’d really support us! It’s easier to stay motivated to share our best with you when we hear from you!! We adore our readers and it really makes our day to get comments, social tags/shares, or pins that you save for later to share with your family and friends! Our hearts sing when you do. We SEE you and we do our very best to respond to all the love! It also amps up our mo-jo so we get lots of awesome things done around here.
Thanks for sharing in the CWR blog-love!
Nichole, Ruthie, & Madeliene