A well filled freezer is a wonderful thing. This appliance of the modern age allows us to safely store and reserve foods harvested during the growing months and eat the fruits or our employers out of season during the cold winter months.
To truly appreciate all that your freezer has to offer it does well to go about using it in a thoughtful, and well organized manner.
First of all, to avoid losing your hard earned labor in forgotten foods, or seriously packaged items make a plan to organize your freezer. An upright freezer is the easiest to organize as there are shelves placed every so often that allow you to see, pretty much at a glance, what foods you have on hand. A chest freezer, which keeps the cold better and usually costs less than an upright, is a bit more difficult to organize and takes some thought.
To organize a chest freezer use low priced plastic bins. These have been found to work for most people to keep foods organized. You can purchase smaller ones at a dollar store or the crate type from your local office supply store. There are also bins made specifically to help you organize your freezer. Be sure to measure your freezer before making this purchase to be sure you get the right fit. Once you have your bins organize them by what kinds of foods they will be holding. Prepared meals in one bin, fruits in another, vegetables in yet another, raw meats in another, and so forth.
Fill In Season: Use the bounty from the harvest season to fill your freezer with fresh fruits and vegetables. Grow yourself or frequent u-pick local farms to pick the choicest produce. Follow freezing tips (usually blanching) for each item to keep from losing flavor and vitamins. Package your goods to keep air out and maintain freshness.
Fill From Sales: Use your freezer to keep foods that you found on sale. Butter, milk, even eggs (cracked first, mixed slide to break egg yolks), can go into the freezer and be a backup supply for your household.
Use Out of Season: Be sure and use the items you have worked so hard for and over during the lean months of the winter. The foods in your freezer have set freezer lives so you do not want to leave them in there indefinitely. After too long your frozen goods are no longer at their prime and will begin to taste bad. To help you keep track of what is stored in your freezer use an inventory sheet placed on or near your freezer. Update your inventory sheet each time you take something out or put an item into your freezer.
Maintenance. Clean out and defrost your freezer annually or bi-annually to keep it running efficiently and also to remove any unwanted food spills and smells. To prevent an expensive loss of food which can result from power out use a freezer alarm to keep tabs on the temperature in your freezer.