What to Do When Your Freezer Gets Left Open

We discovered this morning that when someone went downstairs to get bread for dinner out of the freezer, the door didn’t seal completely.

Thankfully we keep our freezer very cold, so somethings in the back were still frozen solid, and only about half the stuff in the freezer needed to be cooked or eaten. It was still an overwhelming process, trying to make sure I could use everything.

  • Combine everything as much as possible

  • I made an amazing vegetable stew that used up lots of the frozen veggies and odd ingredients I needed to cook.
  • This not only meant I had a really delicious meal that wasn’t the usual, but it also meant I had less things to figure out what to do with. I actually grabbed out items I didn’t have to process to make the stew bulkier and tastier, and to further declutter the ingredients left in the freezer.
  • I strongly prefer to have meals, instead of ingredients in the freezer, but I’ll freeze items before I let them become food waste, so I often end up with odds and ends in the freezer when I don’t have time, energy, or the other ingredients in hand to can an ingredient. So, I took this opportunity to get rid of some random smaller ingredients that had ended up in the freezer.
  • Invite someone over for dinner

  • While we canned or baked most of what came out of the freezer, we still had some odds and ends that needed to be eaten. We invited some friends over for dinner the next night, explaining that we needed help eating our “random leftovers night” as the kids called it. 😂
  • Bake your heart away

  • Most breads freeze well, so if you have things like zucchini and squash that you can use to make breads, then do it! It’ll mean you have one more way to cook your foods to prevent spoilage.
  • Baking also lets you use up some oddball things you might not otherwise be able to use, like mulberries (we had two gallons of mulberries in our freezer!) or pecans. I don’t normally put pecans into my zucchini bread, but a friend gave us a few bags that had been forgotten in the freezer and this was the perfect opportunity to use them up!
    • Savory squash cheddar bread
      Zucchini bread with pecans
      Regular zucchini bread

    Stagger your cooking methods

    One of the challenges of processing all the food is that it takes up so much time. By staggering your cooking times, you give yourself some room to breathe, so you can be “working” on things without having your hands in everything. When I’m cooking in bulk, I like to make a few easy things first while I have the most energy, then setup some items that I can set and forget in the crock pot to deal with the next day.

    Easy long cook time crock pot items

    • Broth (24-48 hours)
    • Yogurt (8-9 hours)
    • Chicken/Ground Meats/other meat (6-8 hours)
    • Brining and smoking meat (we soak ours for 8-12 hours in a brine before smoking items like fish, smoking can take a couple of hours for fish, or 4+ hours for a big item like a turkey)

    Stagger your processing times

    In an ideal world, we’d all have limitless time and energy, but this is real life. You may not have time to deal with everything, so look at what you can safely leave in the fridge till the next day.

    In my case I had things like gallons of milk that weren’t even done thawing, so I let them sit for several days in the fridge while I worked on everything else that was more urgent.

    No one wants to have to process a freezer worth of food in a day or two. If you’re reading this blog post because it happened to you, I totally feel your pain. If you had any tips that worked well for you, let me know and I’ll add them to the post so it can help someone else out too!

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