Vacuum Sealer does wonders for reorganizing a messy fridge. The air from your bags and rolls are removed, giving you far more space to work with. They preserve and protect your food much longer, so you don’t have to worry about dense packing or freezer burn. And all of this makes bulk shopping and saving easier and even more cost-effective. But it pays to know how to stock that fridge and freezer, too.
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Here are a few handy tips:
Take your cues from the pros. No one stocks a fridge as efficiently as the people who prepare food for a living. Using the same method, you should be storing your products in terms of their cooking temperatures. The ready-to-eat foods, like leftovers, fruits, veggies and yogurt, are stored toward the top of the fridge, while raw meats are stored toward the bottom. This is done to prevent cross contamination.
Foods that need to be cooked may drip, and this can jeopardize other ingredients below that aren’t cooked at the same temperatures. Save shelf space on the door specifically for drinks and condiments. Of course, your fridge likely has humidity controls in drawers specifically for fresh fruit and veggies. If these are toward the bottom, by all means use them, but make sure there is an effective barrier between the drawers and the meats just above. As for the shelves along the door, save this space for beverages and condiments only. This is the warmest part of the fridge, so storing eggs, cheeses or similar products here can jeopardize their freshness. The same door trick applies to the freezer as well. The coldest space is toward the bottom at the back, so keep the items you to keep frozen for a long time here. In the door, keep non-perishables, such as liquor, ice cubes and other things that you intend to use soon.
One of the greatest reasons to use a Food Saver is that the bags make it easy to store soups, rice, pastas and more in flat layers. This is one of the most effective ways to use space. Produce like fresh asparagus should be vacuum sealed and stored toward the top of the fridge. You can take convenience a step further by storing these items in specific amounts using rolls and portion pouches.
Store in family sizes or individual meals depending on your cooking habits
Fruits and vegetables with high moisture content (like lettuce and watermelon), dairy products (like yogurt), and fried foods are examples of things best kept out of the freezer. For freezing: pancakes, waffles, nuts, berries, muffins, stocks or broths, meats, fish, shrimp, chilies, and stews. You’re more likely to want to eat foods that survive the freezing process intact. It might be tempting to just throw the whole value-pack of chicken pieces straight into the freezer, but you’ll regret this shortcut later when you only need a few pieces and the whole thing is one frozen mass. Instead, take the time to portion out ingredients into usable portions, like eight pieces of chicken or a pound of ground beef, and freeze each portion in a separate container or freezer bag. That way, you can just pull out what you need and thaw the right amount. Another option is to freeze things in individual pieces first, then consolidate the frozen pieces into one bag or container. By doing this, the pieces won’t stick together and you can just grab the exact number of pieces you need.
As much as possible, freeze things flat. Put that leftover chili in a freezer bag, seal, and lay the bag flat in the freezer until frozen. Flat things of an even thickness are easier to stack or organize upright in a container. Air circulating around frozen foods can lead to freezer burn, so your best bet is to find a container as close to the size of what you want to freeze as possible.
If you’re using plastic bags, make sure you use thicker freezer ones, and press out as much air as possible before freezing. If you’re using foil, make sure foods are tightly double-wrapped. Doing these things mean you maximize freezer space and keep air out. Freezers are usually vast open spaces with very little shelving. While frozen foods can stack on top of each other without damaging one another that also means that the piles can grow unwieldy. Invest in plastic tubs or organizers to keep things from falling out, and if you assign a category of food for each organizer, it’ll make finding exactly what you’re looking for easy. The door is the warmest place in the freezer, so don’t put high-fat items like ice cream there when it can run the risk of melting and refreezing. Save the door for things like for nuts and booze.
Taking the time to label and date foods means you’ll never have to guess what’s inside. It can be hard to identify stew from soup, and even opening up the container for a sniff test is hard since there won’t be much of an aroma. The last thing you want is to defrost the wrong thing, so label for your own sanity’s sake.