The freezer is one of the most useful appliances we have in our home. Seriously, how did we ever cope without one? With the trusty freezer, you can store raw meats for months, have prepared vegetables on hand, and even freeze precooked meals. It makes our lives so much more convenient. But there is of course a right and a wrong way to do things. Read on to see how you can get the most out of your freezer.

Most of us are not using our freezer to the max. Instead of wasting leftovers, freeze it for next week. Make weeknight dinners run more smoothly by prepping vegetables and storing them in the freezer. Chopped onion and celery freezes well, and makes a flavorsome base for most dishes.

The Food

Use the right packaging. While it might be convenient to simply toss something in the freezer, you’ll be better off to make sure the food is packaged correctly. Always make sure that you wrap food tightly, removing as much of the air as possible. This will prevent those dreaded ice crystals and freezer burn. Though it does not affect the safety of the food, it does influence the quality (in a bad way!).

Take note of the freezing date. Again, your food will stay ‘safe to eat’ for a LONG time in the freezer, but that does not mean it will remain tasty. Always write down the date when you freeze items and implement a FIFO system – that is, First In, First Out. This will ensure that older items are used first.

How to freeze small items. Whenever you want to freeze small foods like berries, cookies, or even meatballs, lay them on a baking sheet and allow them to freeze first, before storing them together in a bag. This will prevent them from clumping together in the freezer.

Freeze when food is at its freshest. Freezing won’t make your food fresher, the quality will only deteriorate over time. So, if you plan on freezing certain foods, make sure to freeze it at its optimum freshness. In other words, don’t wait until your baked goods are two days old before adding them to the freezer.

Save space with sauces and casseroles, by freezing them in Ziploc bags. Simply fill a large Ziploc bag with the food, lay flat on the kitchen counter and close. This way, you can neatly freeze the bags on top of each other, saving a lot of space!

The Freezer

Make sure that your freezer is set to the correct temperature. It might seem like a no-brainer, but most our freezers are actually set at a warmer temperature than recommended. Check that your freezer is set below 0°F (-18° C), any warmer than that, and you might as well use the refrigerator.

Fill up your freezer. This might not seem obvious to most of us, but a full freezer is actually more efficient than an empty one. All the frozen food items work together to keep in the cold, and your freezer won’t need to work as hard to cool down an empty space every time you open the door.