Stock Up on Freezer Meals Week 3: Essential Freezer Equipment & Supplies

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This month I am embarking on a plan to stock my freezer with healthy meals before the arrival of my first baby in early June, and I've been sharing the process as I go, from clearing out my messy freezer to bookmarking an array of lighter, healthier freezer-friendly recipes that I'd like to make.

This week I'm getting organized by making sure I have all the tools and supplies I need to freeze and label my meals, to make it easier to fit the maximum amount of food in my small freezer and stay on top of what I have stored away.

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Glass or Plastic Containers?

Going into this project, I thought I would rely exclusively on glass containers. I already use wide-mouth mason jars for freezing soups and stocks, and I have a few Glasslock containers, which I love. I am wary of combining hot food and plastic — even if it is BPA-free — so I figured I would stay away from using any plastic at all.

But the reality is that my freezer is quite small. I don't have space for a chest freezer in my apartment. And commenter Goethe Girl made a compelling point in the comments of my first post:

Your freezer is as small as mine. I would recommend forgoing jars and other containers, as they take up too much space for what you have in mind. I now freeze in freezer bags, which I fill and then lay flat in the freezer. When frozen you can stack up a nice pile, side by side, somewhat like a bunch of LPs. That way you have a lot of food in the freezer.

The image of a bunch of frozen meals tucked neatly in my freezer "like a bunch of LPs" really appealed to me, especially since I was already concerned about how many square containers and jars I could conceivably pack into my freezer.

So I've decided to use a combination of glass and plastic containers. To avoid the hot-food-and-plastic issue that makes me leery, I'll be cooling the food overnight in the fridge before packing it into freezer bags, and taking it out of the bags before reheating.

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The Freezer Equipment & Supplies List

These are the supplies and equipment I've gathered:

  • 4 medium and 4 large square Glasslock containers: These freezer- and oven-safe containers will be good for freezing casserole-type items in portions for one or two people.
  • One dozen wide-mouth pint mason jars: I find that 16-ounce jars hold the perfect amount of soup for one. Depending on how much room I have in my freezer, I may not use the full dozen.
  • Gallon- and quart-size freezer bags: Rice, curries, stews and many other recipes can be frozen flat in bags, making the most of my limited freezer space. They are also good for storing snacks and one-handed meals like burritos.
  • Heavy-duty aluminum foil: I'll use this to individually wrap items like burritos and calzones, to keep them from getting freezer-burned and make them easier to grab for lunches on the go.
  • Half sheet pan: I'll place bagged items on a sheet pan to freeze, so they will be really flat and easy to store.
  • Sharpie & painter's tape: I'll be labeling everything I store with the name of the dish and date. Although painter's tape is more expensive, I find doesn't leave a residue on container lids the way masking tape does.
  • A running inventory of freezer meals: I'm kind of anal, so I'll probably make a spreadsheet as I cook and stock the freezer, then print out a hard copy to keep on the fridge for updating as we eat.

Next Week: Lay Out a Plan & Start Cooking!

I had intended to come up with a cooking plan this week, but life got in the way. Instead, I'll sit down this weekend and come up with a rough plan for fitting some extra cooking into my weeknights and weekends. And I'll start the fun part: cooking!

Are there any other tools and supplies you think I'll need for this project?

(Image credits: Anjali Prasertong; Faith Durand; Emily Ho)

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