Organization is one of the biggest priorities in any kitchen, and the freezer is no different. Unfortunately, a freezer is often one of the most disorganized places in the kitchen as well. The solution—freezer containers. They’re affordable, make sorting through food items simple, and are overall an ergonomic way of using up your freezer space.
Freezer Containers — The What and the Why
While tupperware containers are a fairly common way of storing things in your fridge or pantry, they might not be suitable for a freezer. Getting containers specifically for frozen food will not only cut back on the amount of time you spend foraging for that one item but also help your food maintain its freshness longer. And, to boot, your food won’t acquire nearly as much of that funky freezer smell.
So, if you find yourself frustratedly sorting through the different bags and packages in search for dinner ingredients, you might benefit from the quality-of-life change that comes with special containers. And, depending on what you’re freezing or your preferences, there are a variety of types to choose from—be it zip-up bags or airtight containers. As an added bonus, they make sorting and labeling easier than any other alternative.
Why are Freezer Containers a Solid Investment?
If you’ve had your fridge for a while, your freezer might look like an absolute mess with packs of food lost in there for years. Without an inventory list or orderly labeling, you might find yourself thawing something out only to find out that it’s gone bad ages ago. Instead of doing a yearly sweep checking your freezer’s contents, why not put in a little effort at the beginning? Organizing your freezer with containers might even end up saving you time and frustration down the line.
While containers are a great investment, they’re doubly effective when coupled with a couple of organizational techniques. Keeping a log of your inventory, labeling, and/or dating your products, or even just assigning container colors for specific food groups is an affordable and rewarding way of organizing your freezer. With the right tools and an eye for detail, getting a few sets of the best tupperware you can find will bring your freezer back to its former glory with none of the hassles.
Different Types of Freezer Containers
As previously mentioned, there is a wide variety when it comes to freezer containers in material, size, recommended use, etc. The trick is choosing the best tupperware for the things you need or prefer. At the end of the day, the choice is fairly dependent on your preferences and foods, so there’s not a great need for expertise in that sense.
Variety in Materials
When people hear containers, they probably think of an airtight plastic box that you can stack. Indeed, if you need freezer containers for soup, for example, an airtight one is probably the way to go. In this department, there are several choices to consider—the most common of these are food-grade plastic, freezer-safe glass, and (in rarer cases) silicone.
While glass is the heaviest of the bunch, it is probably the most reliable as well. They don’t stain easily and can withstand the freezing temperatures better than other materials, and as an added perk, can be used in the oven. So, if you have a leftover casserole you’d like to freeze, you can reheat it right back in the oven after thawing. However, be cautious to never put food directly into heat straight from the freezer. Otherwise, the best glass food storage containers can last you a lifetime.
Plastic containers are fairly straightforward—they’re more affordable, light, and probably the easiest to organize. They can come in all shapes and sizes as a result and are pretty easy to use if you want to color-code or label your frozen foods. Similarly, silicone tupperware is a good alternative for the freezer for the same reasons (as long as it’s designed for it).
Other than airtight containers, you can choose between a few more lightweight options in wraps and bags. Freezer wrap is the most space-efficient option, but might not be everyone’s first choice. If you’re out of regular containers, though, plastic freezer wrap can work in a pinch.
Heavy-duty bags, on the other hand, are great for smaller items that simply don’t need a container for storage. Things like string beans, berries, or a thin turkey breast can be slipped right into a zip-top bag for easy freezer storage. For those looking to make efficient use of their freezer space, looking into all the different types is recommended.
Variety in Sizes
Obviously, freezer containers can vary greatly in how much space they take up in your freezer as well. From the paper-thin plastic wraps to big glass casserole dishes, you have a huge selection in terms of sizes. If you’re looking to store something smaller (like a cup of beans) a basic freezer bag will do the trick without taking up too much space. If you need to store larger foods (say, a couple of thick steaks), then airtight containers might be your best bet.
At the end of the day, having a nice variety in the sizes of your freezer containers will help you plan out your freezer space as efficiently as possible. After all, it makes no sense to keep a handful of raspberries in a sizable container. Dabbling in the different means of storage—plastic freezer wrap, zip-top bags, and airtight containers—will make sure you are prepared to freeze anything you want in an ergonomic manner.
Variety in Applicability
As we mentioned a few times above, your best bet for freezing liquids or viscous foods is an airtight container. Similarly, a small zip bag would suffice for something like a handful of nuts. The kind of container you want to use depends almost entirely on what you’re planning on freezing in it.
If freezer smell is an important consideration—say, you want to freeze a chicken breast—something with a means to eliminate air is your best bet. These include plastic wrap (so long as it’s thick and durable enough), silicone bags, and if you’re feeling fancy, a vacuum sealer. The plastic wrap will work in a pinch but is perhaps not a long-term solution (and might not be the most orderly choice for your freezer). Silicone bags, on the other hand, don’t impart a smell and are durable—the only caveat being that you can’t push all the air out of them.
If the price is an issue, though, plastic zip-up bags aren’t too shabby either. However, plastic airtight containers are perhaps your best bet if you are on a budget, and can keep smells out fairly effectively. The only downside, of course, is that you can’t get the air out of the container itself.
Freezing Food — General Tips and Practices
You could have the best freezer containers in the world and still come up short when it comes to organization and food quality. Before you overhaul your freezer, make sure to familiarize yourself with the safe and efficient methods for freezing and thawing your food.
Keeping Food Fresh Safely
The first thing to keep in mind when it comes to optimizing your food’s freshness is to freeze it as soon as possible. This means that you want your food to be the freshest it can be when you begin freezing it as well as getting it to freeze as fast as possible. The longer the freezing process, the bigger the risk of larger ice crystals developing—this makes the food tougher and/or soggy when you eventually thaw it out. Essentially, the smaller or thinner the food you’re freezing, the more likely it’ll stay fresh when you need it.
While you want to act fast in terms of freezing, you also need to make sure your food is the right temperature before it goes in the freezer. If you’re looking to store cooked food, wait for it to cool down before you freeze it. This is because the warmer your food is, the higher the amount of condensation that will form in your container.
If you’re looking to freeze different ingredients—such as meat and vegetables—take the time to pack them in separate containers. Foods can have varying freezing or thawing rates based on their density and size, so keeping different foods separate is good for not only organizational but also logistical purposes. In addition, any food packed in a way that creates air pockets could have a negative effect on quality and freshness.
To minimize hassle with regards to foods that can stick together in the freezer when clumped (such as berries), consider packing them in smaller batches—consider how much of something you’ll be using at a time in the future when figuring out batch sizes. For liquids specifically, it’s important to remember that water expands when frozen—therefore, leave a little room in your container if you’re freezing any sauces, soups, or drinks. While the room you should leave depends on the contents and amounts, an inch of space is typically enough for most purposes.
Organizing Your Freezer
Giving your freezer a bit of order could prove beneficial in more than one way. Obviously, an organized freezer is much easier to deal with and removes any of the hassles of rummaging through a packed shelf. However, knowing how long your items have been sitting frozen could tell you at a glance what is still safe or worthwhile to thaw.
One way of going about this is keeping an inventory list—after all, some things could sit in your freezer for years before you decide to use them. By keeping a log of the items along with the dates they were frozen, you can quickly tell if that food is still worth your time. It can also be a great way to remind yourself what you have on hand—it is surprisingly easy to forget what you froze ages ago.
Another way of organizing your freezer is to use your containers efficiently. Color coding different food groups or using specific containers for different items cut your search time and gives your freezer a more orderly feel. When employed in conjunction with an inventory log, you’ll never have any problems finding what you need. Finally, labels are an easy and effective method of tracking your freezer’s contents. A simple sticker on a container lid can tell you at a glance what you have where and for how long.
Safely Thawing Food
According to the USDA, there are a few different ways you can thaw your food. The most time-consuming but safest method overall is to put your frozen food in the fridge to prevent bacteria growth. This could take days, however—they estimate that it takes at least 24 hours for every 5 pounds of food to thaw out. Even a pound of something like ground beef could take an entire day to get back to a suitable temperature. However, this method ensures your food stays safe to eat and cook (provided you froze it fresh) for a few days in the fridge after thawing.
Alternatively, you could submerge your food in cold water, cycling out the water every 30 minutes or so. However, it’s best to do this in a sealed waterproof container or bag to prevent any bacteria from the air from tainting the food. With this method, it’s advised to cook your food immediately after it has thawed.
Microwaving frozen items is also an option, as long as your microwave has a thaw setting. However, some parts might stay frozen longer, leaving the warmer areas in the perfect window for bacteria to grow rapidly. As such, you should cook your food immediately after thawing. As a rule of thumb, don’t refreeze any food (especially raw meat) that has fully thawed. If you want to freeze anything again, it should be cooked to ensure it is safe to eat in the future.
To wrap it up, freezer containers are a great method of organizing and storing your food safely when combined with proper practices. Organizing your freezer with containers, labels, and/or an inventory log can ensure that you won’t have to dig around the freezer nearly as long, while also keeping your food fresher than it would’ve been otherwise. However, while they are a great tool, freezer containers mean nothing if you’re not familiar with the correct freezing/thawing methods.
Frequently Asked Questions
A: You can get freezer-safe containers just about anywhere you can get regular tupperware. You just have to make sure that the containers are indeed freezer-safe, as otherwise, you might ruin your means of storage and possibly the food itself. Perhaps the easiest way of finding the best tupperware containers for you is perusing online on sites like Amazon.
A: While it depends on your preference and the food you’re freezing, there are a few choices you can’t go wrong with. Silicone zip-top bags are a solid method of keeping smaller amounts of food (such as nuts or beans), while a freezer safe glass airtight container is great for more voluminous products.
A: You can find stickers made specifically to label food—they are small enough to label the smallest containers and can withstand a lot of ice/water damage over the years. The best way of labeling your containers is to put the name of the food and the date you froze it initially to keep track of its freshness.