There are lots of tips I tend to think everyone knows, but find out later, that’s not the case. This is one. So, for those of you who already know this, feel free to ignore.
When preparing food for the freezer, whether freezer meals, meats or veggies, place the food in a freezer bag and press the bag as flat as you can, removing as much air as possible. Freeze in this position. Taking the extra time to flatten out your bags will be well worth it down the road. I often stack my freezer “files” on a cookie sheet until they’re entirely frozen. From there, I can stand on end in the freezer as shown in the bottom picture.
This systems helps with both organization and space efficiency. Just compare the below.
These bags of hamburger, though not terribly “lumpy”, were not smashed totally flat and can’t be stacked very well. They slide off one another quite easily.
These items (apple pie filling, frozen peaches, and marinated chicken strips) were frozen using the “file’ method. It’s super easy to quickly flip through the files to see what I have. If I need more room, it’s also easy to stack them on top of one another and have them stay relatively stable. Many freezer meals can be frozen taking advantage of this method.
Tip: Whenever possible freeze food “flat”. If you must use containers, opt for square vs. round to conserve more space. (If you’re not concerned about space savings and have round containers on had, use away!)
If you need some help with freezer organization check out these great printable labels from Amy Bayliss. I don’t have a chest freezer, but can see hanging the labels from a hook magnet on the freezer door to show what is inside.