In my last post I implored you to use your freezer as often and as soon as possible with leftovers.
Claire Walter made a good point in the comments:
The REAL secret is managing your “freezer files” — labeling each container or Baggie with contents and dates, and then somehow remembering or reminding yourself of what’s in the freezer.
I don’t know if I’m that organized, but I do try to label what I can. Remember: stay away from all-or-nothing thinking. You don’t have to be perfect. Label what you can. A good Sharpie (nigh unto indestructible black marker popular amongst the laboratory crowd) is a fixture in my kitchen. A bonus of using an actual Sharpie, and a little known secret I picked up from my laboratory days, is that the Sharpie isn’t truly permanent: You can take it off glassware, at least, with a little rubbing alcohol. In any case . . .
A few weeks ago, Mark Bittman over at the New York Times made, and elaborated more fully on, the same point about the tremendous value of the freezer. Mark has lots of great specifics on everything from livers to lemon juice. I have some comments of my own to add (and will in the future), but his list is the best starting place.
The main idea:
[I]f you conscientiously use the freezer in two ways, you’ll value it as never before. The first: take raw ingredients you have too much of — or whose life you simply wish to prolong — and freeze them. The second: take things you’ve already cooked — basics like stock, beans, grains and the like, or fully cooked dishes — and freeze them.
To the extent that you do both of these tasks regularly, and keep your freezer organized, you’ll make your cooking cheaper, more efficient and faster.
And finally, also via Bittman’s blog, here’s a fascinating look at the actual contents of people’s refrigerators and freezers. Pay close attention and you’ll find some very interesting details.