7 genius spring-cleaning freezer hacks

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When it comes to freezers, the choices are many. There are chest freezers, bottom freezers, side-by-side freezers, and top freezers. Freezers that are too small and freezers that are too deep.

How you optimize your freezer space can be as confusing as deep cleaning it. No matter what type of freezer you have, these 7 genius hacks are proof that de-cluttering and effectively utilizing your freezer is not just possible, but also a lot easier than you think.

Practice easy freezer snack hacks

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Planning ahead doesn't have to stop at meals. Start utilizing your freezer for easy grab-n-go snacks. Fresh fruits, greens, and avocados for smoothies can easily be frozen for future use. Did you know that you can even freeze peanut butter? Place a spoonful of peanut butter in each section of an ice cube tray and freeze it. Next time you need a quick snack, pop out a cube of peanut butter and place it in an airtight container with veggies or crackers.

Opt out of plastic food storage containers

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Make the most out of your freezer space by storing leftovers like soup or prepared Sloppy Joe's in plastic freezer bags rather than in bulky plastic containers. Worried about messy spills? Prior to placing your leftovers in the freezer, line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and lay your plastic freezer bags on the cookie sheet; place the cookie sheet and your leftovers into your freezer. To speed up the freezing process, make sure not to stack your leftovers on top of each other. Once your leftovers are completely frozen, remove the cookie sheet and stack them flat on top of each other.

When in doubt, throw it out

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After you've reached into the deep abyss of your freezer and thrown out all of the ice crystalized specimens you forgot existed, implement a labeling system to prevent future mass freezer burn casualties. Start by individually labeling your leftovers with the date that you freeze them. Then, be sure to rotate the items in your freezer on a bi-weekly basis. This way, you can easily keep track of what should and shouldn't be in your freezer.

Create more space

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Make the most out of the limited space in your freezer by taking frozen food contents out of their packaging. Ditching the packaging will open up more space for other frozen products and make organizing your freezer even easier.

Freeze for the future

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Always make sure to freeze recipes with future meals in mind. Just because a recipe leaves four servings of leftovers doesn't mean you should freeze all four servings together. Portion out your recipes with future meals in mind. For instance, homemade Santa Fe Chicken Packets freeze well and, when properly portioned out, make easy thaw-and-heat lunches. And frozen Breakfast Burritos are the perfect grab-and-go breakfast.

Keep a freezer inventory list

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Prevent food from getting lost in the depths of any freezer by placing an inventory list on the front of your fridge. Create a chart that outlines the food items you most often freeze; list items like chili, frozen pizza, enchiladas and bread. When you place one of these items into your freezer put a check mark next to it.

Utilize ice cube trays

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Ice cube trays are an easy way to keep leftover tomato paste fresh and ready for future recipe use. They're also great for keeping fresh herbs and homemade broth or stock on hand at all times. Pour a bit of water and fresh herbs into ice cube trays and freeze them for year-round use; do the same for homemade broths or stocks. Next time you want to make a soup, skillet, or stew, you’ll have the base of what you need already on hand.

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