This is part of a series on How to Save Money On Your Grocery Bill
Tips on what you need to freeze food and prevent freezer burn.
Revised July 30, 2020 – Originally published May 23, 2020 Deborah Esplin
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What You Will Need / Freezer
Freezers come in two types: chest and upright. Each type has advantages and disadvantages.
Chest freezers are less expensive, more energy-efficient, generally stay colder throughout the entire space, offer more space per cubic foot of storage, are easier for storing bulky items, and keep food frozen longer in a power failure. Plus foods in a chest freezer are less prone to freezer burn.
However, chest freezers are harder to keep organized, take a bit more space on the floor, and may need to be defrosted from time to time. I’ve had my chest freezer for 11 years and for the last nine years it has been at our present home and I have not needed to defrost it.
Upright freezers look like your refrigerator. They have a big door, shelves and you can see everything inside so they are easier to keep organized than a chest freezer. They also do not require defrosting and they have a small footprint on the floor.
However, upright freezers are more expensive than chest freezers to buy, tend to have warmer and colder zones so they do not keep your food as consistently cold as a chest freezer. Plus, they warm up faster in a power failure and use more electricity for the automatic defrost mechanism. The auto defrost mechanism also promotes more freezer burn.
Whichever, type you choose, they are both reliable appliances that last for years and are one of the most useful things you can buy. With a freezer, you can store all of the food that you bought on sale or in a larger format and all of the meals you cook so that you save money, cut your food waste, and have what you need on hand. If you have read the previous blogs or have seen the videos on YouTube, you will have purchased more food as part of the shopping strategy in the blog post, How To Save Money On Your Grocery Bill. If you read the other two blogs you will know what foods do not freeze well and the many foods that you can freeze. All of these tips will help you save money on your groceries and cut your food waste.
What You Will Need / Food Containers
Reusable storage containers, BPA-free, do cost a little money, but they are safe, airtight, washable, and last for years. This set from Rubbermaid is easy-to-use, easy-to-wash, and stackable. They are not the least expensive, but you get a set of 21 containers and I love them.
Check out this blog post to understand why PBA-free matters.
I also like the storage containers that have the lids that snap down on four sides as they are completely leak-proof. You can buy them made out of glass or plastic. Either one is good. Here is an example of glass leak-proof containers available from Amazon.
Glass containers are a little pricier than plastic ones. Plastic containers, BPA-free, are just as safe. They come in several types. Both the ones with the lock lids and the push-down lids can be good at keeping liquids from leaking. The containers with the screw-on lids are fine too, but they are not always 100% leak-proof, however, they are usually the least expensive and are fine for most foods.
You can also use clean, dry metal coffee cans. They are a temporary substitute for purchased, reusable containers as long as they are not rusty. Unfortunately, the plastic lids do not last that long, at which point the container is useless for food. However, while you build up your inventory of storage containers they will do.
Do not reuse single-use food containers, like the yogurt and margarine tubs from the store. These containers are not meant to be reused. The plastic has not been created to withstand multiple uses, washing, heating, and cooling. The plastic breaks down over time allowing chemicals to leak into your food.
What You Will Need / Disposable Plastic Options
You can also use disposable plastic bags and plastic wrap. Plastic wrap is generally not enough to protect your food from freezer burn unless it is very thick. Most plastic wrap you find in your grocery store is not thick enough to be used alone to wrap your food for the freezer. However, plastic wrap with a ziplock bag is enough. By putting the food in the plastic wrap first, you keep the ziplock bag clean so that you can reuse it.
What You Will Need / Reusable Food Storage Bags
There is a newcomer to the ziplock bag arena; silicone food storage bags. They are reusable, washable in the dishwasher, freezable, safe for food, and have a long life-span. You can also put these bags in the microwave oven, regular oven, toaster oven, and steamer. These bags will cut or stop your use of disposable plastic bags. However, they do cost more money than a roll of plastic wrap, but over the long-run, they will save you money and cut the amount of plastic that goes to landfill. I have just bought my first set and so far, I am impressed. The top plastic bar that closes the bag can be a bit hard to pull off when the bag is cold, but they go in the dishwasher and really keep food fresh. Here is a link to one of the options on Amazon for silicone food storage bags.
Another tip for cutting plastic is to reuse disposable plastic bags. If my disposable plastic bags are still clean, I reuse them. Once they are dirty, I use them to clean-up after my dog. I even keep my bread bags to use for cleanup. That is my way of saving money and cutting how much plastic goes to landfill.
Identify Your Packages
Label and date your packages and containers before they go into the freezer. Once they are frozen, it will be very hard to figure out what is inside and after a while, you will not remember.
I have sheets of printer label paper and a marker in my kitchen. I use that to identify all my reusable containers. I use the marker to write directly on disposable plastic. My research shows that you can also write on the silicone bags and wipe it off after. Make your life easier in the long run and put the name of the food, the year and the month on the containers/packages before you freeze them.
What You Need To Freeze Food Tips Summary
- Choose the freezer that is best for you.
- Invest in reusable, washable containers that will cut your use of disposable plastic.
- If you use metal cans and tins, make sure they do not have rust.
- Invest in silicone bags that will cut your use of disposable plastic.
- Wrap your food well or put it into an airtight container to reduce freezer burn and food waste.
- Label and date everything before it goes in the freezer.
Check out my video on this topic:
Here is the link to the next blog post in the series: How Long Can You Store Frozen Food.
Check out posts on other topics here: Blog Table of Contents.
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