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March 2004 Issue
March is Frozen Foods Month
by J. Sinclair
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I'll admit it. I have a chest freezer in my basement and it's filled with everything from individually quick frozen chicken breasts to San Francisco stir-fry blend to a couple quarts of ice cream that have been calling to me for the last few weeks! I love the convenience and variety that frozen food offers to busy home chefs. It's reassuring to know that I can put together a healthy meal even if I haven't put my regular amount of thought into it. While there's definitely a time and a place for ultra-fresh produce and meats, I am not about to unplug that freezer and send it to the curb. I like to think of it as my meal insurance.

So how do I take advantage of what's in there? I start by keeping track of what's in there. Next to the freezer is a huge whiteboard, dry erase markers and an eraser. When I purchase something new, it gets added to the whiteboard. I divide mine into the following categories:

  • Poultry
  • Beef & Game
  • Pork & Lamb
  • Fish & Seafood
  • Vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Desserts
  • Convenience Foods
I also add dates alongside things I add to the freezer so I can quickly look at the list and decide which items need to be used soon. That helps me know what's there and how long it's been there.

Inside my freezer, I try to make things as organized as I can. An upright freezer might be a bit easier to organize, but they also tend to "dump" much of their chill when you open them. A chest freezer means having to dig a bit more, but they are also more energy efficient and that makes freezer diving a better choice in my book. I have placed double-thick cardboard dividers into my freezer to allow me to separate meats and meat-type stuff from vegetables and fruit. There's even a little sliding basket that is home to those quarts of ice cream and a couple of other frozen desserts. This way, before I open the freezer I can look at my whiteboard and decide what I want to get. Then, when I open the freezer, I'm more likely to know approximately where I should be looking. It saves energy and keeps me from turning into an ice cube during my freezer diving!

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