How Our Freezer Gets Used

Homemade Pesto

When you cook at home, you need pantry staples and refrigerator basics for cooking healthy, wholesome food from scratch. I try and keep the basics on hand so that I’m ready to cook or bake but my kitchen is small and I don’t have much space for storing items. How our freezer gets used helps me manage the storage of these staples and I generally freeze all types of food items.

We are fortunate to have a basement with a large 14-cubic-foot freezer. The basement freezer is where I keep my back stock of baking and cooking supplies. Using our small freezer in the kitchen helps me reduce our food waste because instead of throwing food out, especially after two nights of eating the same meal, I freeze whatever is left. My goal is zero food waste, so freezing food before it goes bad really helps.

Food in Freezer
My whole wheat flour is in that big container – just waiting to be made into cookies!

This isn’t stock piling of food. I’m not a coupon shopper so I’m not buying lots of food or household items and storing them. The most I buy for storage ahead of time  is maybe 2-3 months. A few items I buy may take 5-6 months for us to use but because of the packaging, price, and economies of scale, I do purchase them. These items include flour, dried beans and molasses. I buy the larger sizes and then fill as I use down what’s in my kitchen so I don’t always have 25 pounds of flour and 10 pounds of sugar. I’m always using these items so the amount is reduced quickly.

As far as I know, the only food items that can’t be frozen are raw eggs in the shell. Because food expands as it freezes, eggs in the shell have no where to go. Many backyard chicken keepers crack their eggs into a small containers and freeze them for later use, but we never seem to have too many eggs. Either my chickens are lazy or my kids are cooking up too many eggs for breakfast or snacks. Either way, I’ve never had the “problem” of so many eggs that I’ve had to freeze them!

How Our Freezer Gets Used

– and what I store in the big basement freezer:

How to use a freezer

  • 25 pounds of whole wheat flour (from Bob’s Red Mill) – which is 100% whole wheat flour and we’re so lucky to live near the Bob’s Red Mill store. They also sell their products online. I keep a smaller container of flour in my kitchen cupboard and just refill regularly.
  • 10 pounds organic sugar (from Wholesome Sweeteners) which is not treated with chemicals or bleaching agents. Costco sells this and it’s the best deal on this sugar. I keep a smaller container of it in my kitchen cupboard and refill regularly.
  • oatmeal (from Quaker Oats) – again from Costco. We make a double batch of granola twice a month, bake cookies with it, and make granola bars. Sometimes we actually make oatmeal for breakfast, too.
  • chicken broth – anytime I cook chicken with bones in it, after eating the chicken, I make it into broth, which I then freeze.
  • fruit and berries – we pick berries in the summer and freeze for smoothies all year long or until they’re gone- in about January. The applesauce I made last month is in here, too.
  • fish, chicken, pork, shrimp – when the types of protein we eat from the farms and markets  I trust are on sale, I do buy several packages and freeze. I really like it when wild Alaska whole salmon is on sale because it’s a real value for a family. Salmon for freezer
  • bacon – we don’t eat much bacon but when I buy it, I put it in very small packages, freeze it and use it sparingly to add flavor to soups, stews, and spinach salad. It usually amounts to 3 or 4 slices of bacon which I freeze in a small container. Once I take it out of the freezer, I chop it up, first, and then cook it.
  • pesto – just made and looking so good in my freezer!
  • roasted tomatoes – freshly picked from the garden and then roasted. Now, the roasted tomatoes are ready to be made into marinara sauce or pizza sauce.
  • bread – whole wheat, no sugar added (from Dave’s Killer Bread) – again, a wonderful local company whose bakery is across the street from Bob’s Red Mill. Their outlet store sells frozen loaves of bread for $2/loaf. I like their “no sugar added” whole wheat loaf.
  • beans – nearly every week I cook 6 cups (2 1/2 pounds) of dried beans. Mostly, we eat about that amount every week – yes, 15 cups of cooked beans almost every week. (They’re so good for you, full of fiber, and inexpensive.) After cooking the beans, I freeze them in smaller containers and get them out the night before we’re eating them.
  • ice cream – what can I say? Costco sells the best vanilla ice cream and they’re in 1/2 gallon containers. You get two in a carton (of course you do – it’s Costco!) and I stash one in our downstairs freezer.

Bob's Red Mill flour

We don’t have a microwave in our little kitchen so I do have to be organized when I’m using food from our basement freezer. Meal planning helps me stay on top of what needs to come out of the freezer and when.

What helps me THE MOST is to get items out of my freezer the night before I need them. For example, if I get bread, berries, and beans out of the freezer the night before I need them for breakfast, the morning goes a lot smoother. I just have to be awake enough to go downstairs to the basement before going upstairs to bed!

How do you keep food waste down? What foods do you freeze?

Go Gingham related links

My “Love/Hate Relationship with Costco” – I love it – no wait – I hate it
Organizing food storage containers – and labeling them – yes, I have to do it!
Why I cook with pork – instead of beef – several reasons and 1 of them is sweat!
Why meal planning is the biggest saver in the kitchen – without coupons
Betsy’s best brownies – our chicken who is no longer with us
Healthy and tasty chocolate chip cookies – yes, with flax seeds and chocolate chips!
Delicious cake to make with apples – excellent cake

Sara

Sara, creator of Go Gingham, is passionate about cooking and feeding her family healthy, real food. She's a green enthusiast, too, who loves to grow food organically. Sara loves to travel - especially by trading houses. An avid runner, she can also be found chasing after her chickens in the backyard.

14 Comments


    1. Oh, Cathy, thank you. What a nice compliment coming from you. I know you’re organized, too. You have a lot going on so I know you know it helps to be organized!
      Thank you, Cathy.


  1. Your freezer looks like mine! At least your kitchen freezer. I can only dream of having another freezer but wish I did. My grandparents had one and it was always full of fruit from their summer vegetables and other fresh foods. Ours almost always has frozen berries from the summer picking, chicken and vegetable stock, pasta sauce, beans (I make a big batch and freeze what we won’t use that week), a few make ahead meals, and ice cream.
    Gina Rau recently posted..Polar Bears Against Soda Companies


    1. Hi Gina!
      I know we’re lucky to have that freezer. My smart mother in law was the one who told me that we needed one – and then she gave it to us for a wedding anniversary years ago. I love having it – especially knowing there’s a back-up ice cream in there 😉
      Sounds like you have a lot going on in your freezer, too, without much space. I like the make-ahead-meals idea. Our make-ahead-meals are all eaten too quickly these days!
      Thanks for leaving a comment, Gina.


  2. My garage freezer is used for the beef/pork/lamb we buy from local 4H kids or ranchers about every 18 months, and salmon/smoked tuna my husband catches. Also my family recipe pasta sauce I make every day after Thanksgiving (12 quarts each batch). Frozen berries. Frozen bread. Chicken broth (I don’t eat much chicken but I make a lot of soup. I have a neighbor that gives me all her rotisserie chicken carcasses. When I have ~6 of them, I make about 20 quarts of broth and freeze it.) and lots of soup.


    1. Liana,
      I love that your neighbor gives you her rotisserie chicken carcasses to make broth and soup! That is great – and smart. We just made broth today with chicken bones, carcases from last night and veggie ends (onions, celery tops/bottoms, and carrot tops) and our house smelled so good. Do you only make your pasta sauce after Thanksgiving or do you also do it another time as well? It sounds like a good ritual.
      Thanks for leaving a comment, Liana!


  3. We try to do the same things to eliminate food waste – and we are pretty close to the zero mark. We do compost produce scraps (wish I had chickens), but I keep our two 19 cu ft chest freezers full with garden produce, bread, baking, per cooked meals, meat bought on special, etc. as they start to empty over the winter, we consolidate the two and unplug the empty one until its time to fill it again. Since we live rurally, this saves unnecessary trips into town for us.


    1. Heidi, that is great that you’re so close to zero food waste. Right now I wish we had 2 freezers! That’s a smart way to use both and then consolidate.
      Thanks, Heidi!


  4. I cannot decide what part I like best of this article the freezing or the organization. Wow. Very nice. I also freeze many items and label them but cannot say that mine look so organized. You have encouraged me to work harder on that.


    1. Why thank you, Pam! Even though it looks organized, I still can’t always find what I’m looking for in there. Just today, I couldn’t find something and was complaining about how full it is. There are worse problems 🙂
      So glad I could encourage you! Good luck.


    1. Kristen,
      Thank you! It’s not always easy to stick to the “no food waste” when it’s leftovers AGAIN but that’s when I serve brownies. 😉
      The freezer is money in the bank many nights, too. When I think, “oh, I’m out of Parmesan cheese.” I just run downstairs and check in the freezer for it. Most times, when it’s there, I do a “YES!” arm-pumping motion that all moms can relate to! Kind of like giving myself a high-five!!
      Thanks for leaving a comment, Kristen.


  5. I have heard of people making their own broth You mean it does not come from a can? How do you make it? How long can it be frozen? Is it too hard to make? I can see a big pot boiling and boiling on the stove and making a huge mess to get a cup of broth.


    1. Sue, it’s super easy to make! It’s not too messy but when pouring, a wide mouth funnel is really helpful. You’ll never want to buy broth again after making your own, I promise! It tastes so much better than store bought.
      I’ll do a post about it after my “how to roast a whole chicken” comes out. My 15-year-old has got the chicken roasting down but now I need to get home on the broth routine.
      Thanks, Sue!

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