I thought I’d share a little tip today that’s been a huge help after we binge shop at Sam’s Club. Have you ever bought that big package of hamburger there, or at Costco, because you realized how much cheaper per pound it was than you’ve been paying at the regular grocery store, but then start to hate all of that ground beef because it’s taken up half of your freezer? Could just be a quirk of mine, but the tip works, so I’m still sharing it. Figure out your own situation that it might apply in. *teasing grin*
We actually bought a smaller bulk package of lean ground beef this time, but fitting over five pounds of it into my freezer while I still have leftover buckets of ice cream from the 4th of July was still going to be a challenge. If you think about how you’re packaging your meat before you freeze it, you can get it all to fit so easily and it’ll make you look like the new Martha Stewart. Who doesn’t want to look all organized and on top of everything?!
Instead of taking a handful of the meat, dropping it into your bag, pushing all the air out, and zipping it up, you’ll want to take one more little step. Just flatten the meat out. Seriously. Yeah, I smacked myself in the forehead over that too. *grin* If you gently push the meat into the corners (hey, if you’re having a rough day you can even slap it around a bit, no harm no foul, just don’t break the bag) and try to get the whole package pretty level, and then zip, this is how nice they can look.
The best part is that you can stack your packages and you’ll be able to actually get more food in your freezer, since you’re not having to try to play food Tetris or balance things so no one gets knocked out by a frozen meatloaf when they open the freezer door. You can easily see what you have and they freeze so much faster, so then you can stand them up, stack them on top of the tater tots, or whatever. So simple and so incredibly handy!
(Sorry about mottled pictures, by the way. All of the packages at the store had gotten a little air. Please don’t worry though, the meat was fine. Larry used to be a butcher, so if he says it’s just affecting the looks, then it’s true. One of the few times I’ll admit to him being right about something…*laugh*)
I find myself putting cooked leftovers into bags like this too. Apparently it just becomes a habit. I let my fried ground beef cool a bit, spoon it into a zip bag, get it all flat, and stack my leftovers. Lol. Our freezer looks like a card catalog sometimes. I start flipping through frozen cards of meat trying to decide what meals to plan. *grin* This works great for shredded (cooked) chicken and beef, too. I also have a few “cards” of frozen watermelon and even bell pepper, too. (There are a few steps to freezing bell pepper, so please research before you try it. It’s seriously handy when you don’t live in the city though and can’t just pop in to a grocery store or market for a pepper!) Another great benefit to packaging this way, I massively cut back on the amount of freezer burn we would find. We all know I’m too prone to bad luck to think I suddenly developed a knack for handling foods (I mean, don’t you remember when I had whipped soap on my glasses and in my hair, or the lotion that splattered the wall?! *laugh*). Mostly it’s because you won’t have much air in that package to expose the meat. I think it also has to do with the fact that there aren’t any mystery meats anymore, so you’ll use it before it can go bad. When they’re packaged flat it’s easy to see what in the world it is, because you won’t have crystals or warm air splotches on the bag from breathing heavily because you’re juggling that frozen meatloaf on top of the round ice cream carton, while the Popsicles are trying to dive bomb onto your shoulder. 🙂
Hopefully you’ll give this simple tip a try (and hopefully it helps you as much as it has us, of course). If you have any other freezer tips, I’d love to hear them. Happy pampering!