All around the world, situations are playing out that make the possibility of food shortages more probable. Here in the US, we have never had to face this problem. But that doesn't mean it won't ever happen. One way you can prepare for this possibility is with this guide to deep freezer food storage.
By starting to plan now, you can ensure your family's food storage will continue in the event of shortages.
Even two years after the pandemic began we are being warned there may not be enough turkeys for Thanksgiving, and that's just one meal, not an entire year.
How long will food supplies last? We are being told it could be months or even years before things resume normal shopping patterns.
The first step in coping with this possibility is to buy a deep freezer.
A Guide To Deep Freezer Storage
What are the Best Survival Foods to Keep in Your Deep Freezer?
While there are many types of food you can keep in a deep freezer, the two most important to focus on are meat and vegetables. You can live and live quite healthily just by eating these two food groups.
It's not hard to get started, but you will need to get into the habit of rotating the food out according to the date to keep your food supply up to date. Use the first in – first out model, and as you use the food items from your freezer, make sure to restock what you've taken.
Not only does deep freezing allow you to keep food for longer, but it also helps to keep the food in its best nutritional state.
You can freeze meats, wild fish, and poultry you obtain from the market, online, homesteading, or hunting. Grass-fed meats produced without the use of pesticides, hormones, and antibiotics are the best for your long-term health.
Fatty, salty meats like bacon, sausage, and lunch meats do not store well in long-term storage. The USDA only recommends freezing these foods for 1-2 months because the fat causes them to go rancid in the freezer.
Vegetables can be stored in your deep freezer too. If you don't want to prepare them for a deep freeze or you don't have time, it's easy to stock up using frozen vegetables from your local market. Just keep in mind, the higher the water content in the vegetable, the more likely it is to get watery once it's thawed.
There are many vegetables that you can freeze that maintain their original taste and texture when used later. Some of the best vegetables to use for freezing are things like green beans and corn.
You can also freeze peas and certain foods such as broccoli and cauliflower. Carrots and peas can be frozen and so can squash.
You can also freeze some leafy greens like spinach. But keep in mind that some vegetables like cabbage will need to be prepped before freezing. If you're planning to store the cabbage for a while, then it should be blanched before freezing.
But if you plan to use cabbage within a couple of months, then you don't have to blanch it. Vegetables such as celery and onions will also freeze well. Many people don't realize it, but you can freeze fruit, too – including strawberries, grapes, blueberries, and more.
How to Shop Smart to Get the Most of Your Deep Freezer Foods
Shopping Smart for Meat
Meat is one of the most expensive food items and most people automatically buy it from the grocery store. This is certainly not the healthiest or cheapest method.
Look to your local farmers or online to buy meat. This allows you to compare prices and look for sales. Plus, the meat tastes way better because it's grass-fed or free-range. There are many sources, but two I use repeatedly are Thrive Market and Misfits Market.
Shopping Smart for Vegetables
Buy your fruits and vegetables for freezing from farmer's markets, food co-ops, roadside stands, and directly from growers in their CSA program. You can find these by doing a search for “vegetable growers” or “produce companies” or search “your state + vegetable grower”.
You can also save money by picking up discounts on dairy products and then freezing them. You can find these bargain buys not just by using coupons, but also by looking for buy-one-get-one-free promotions.
Dairy and Pantry Items
If you let a little out of the top of a gallon of milk to allow for expansion, it'll freeze well. Butter and cheese can also be frozen for later use. Milk can be kept in a freezer for almost six months if it's prepared correctly.
You can also buy many pantry staples and freeze them too. That means you can safely freeze things like flour and seeds. You can also freeze various types of sugar.
How to Store Food in a Deep Freezer
There are different methods for properly storing foods in your deep freezer to ensure that the food stays viable.
One of these methods is by using a vacuum seal. This machine removes air from the stored food so that it eliminates ice crystals and freezer burn.
Plus, doing that, helps to keep the food tasting fresh. When you seal the food, you’ll want to make sure you package it in the bag correctly. Lay the foods in the bag flat rather than lumping them up in a heap together.
You can use a countertop vacuum sealer to do the job, but there are also handheld options available. If you don’t have a vacuum sealer and don’t want to spend the money to buy one, you can still vacuum seal food without it.
Water Displacement Method
This way of doing it is known as water displacement. You’ll need freezer bags and a pot of water. You put whatever you want to freeze in the bag, but make sure to leave a small opening at the top.
Place the bag slowly down into the water. As the bag is lowered, the pressure of the water forces out the air. You’re going to continue to lower the bag until right before it would go under the water.
Then seal the bag without allowing the water to get in and remove it from the pot of water. You can also use the ice method of storing your food in a deep freezer. You can use bag ice or ice cubes in bags that you freeze yourself. This keeps the food fresh for longer periods. You’ll want to place the ice all around the food as well as above it and below it.
Labeling and Rotate Your Preps
One of the biggest mistakes you can make when it comes to using your deep freezer to keep your food is failing to correctly label the food.
It’s not fun to play guess the date or guess the food item. That’s why organization is your best friend. Store all the foods by category, such as meats together, etc. You can use freezer bins or wire baskets to keep them separated if you need to.
But just because you’re using those doesn’t mean you should neglect individual labeling. Label each bag with a color-coordinated label. For example, you can choose green labels to signify the food in the bag is a vegetable.
On the freezer bag, you’ll want to include the right information. This information should be what the food is and the freeze date. But it should also include a use-by date for handy reference.
You can keep an inventory of what you have in your freezer to make it easier to rotate the food items. Having all this food in storage is handy and can save money. But in the event that you lose power, you stand to lose everything in your freezer if it stays down.
That’s why you may need a generator. The right kind of generator is capable of powering your freezer so that all your effort and money doesn’t end up going to waste. Choose between a solar or gas-powered generator.
What to Do with Deep Freezer Foods If the Grid Goes Down Long-Term
Four-Part Safety Checklist
If you’re wondering if the food is still edible, you can put it through the four-part safety checklist. Your food is no longer usable and should be thrown out it:
- has an odor
- has changed color
- looks slimy, or
- contains ice crystals
Can You Use a Canning Method to Save it?
You don’t want to take any risks with your health. But if the food is still good, then instead of allowing it to go to waste, you can choose to use a canning method to save it.
If the food is still partially or fully frozen, you will need to allow it to defrost before you can it.
Then all you have to do is follow the same canning method that you would use if you were canning fresh food items. There are some food items that aren’t good candidates for use with the canning method because they’ll just turn mushy, and no one wants to eat that.
You’ll need to check what you have so you don’t waste your time or the food this way. But if you do have food items that aren’t good candidates for canning, that doesn’t mean there’s nothing else that you can do with them.
Can You Dry It?
Instead of canning, you can always choose to dry the food. There are various ways to do this. You can use the sun method where you put food in the sun, but protect it against insects by using a screen.
Here are some tips on dehydrating food without electricity.
You can dry foods by using the solar drying method. This is a method that works to still allow the food to maintain its nutritional value. You don’t have to have a complicated setup to save the food with this method.
You can use dehydrator sheets for this or something like a herb drying rack. But you can also use an electric dehydrator to dry the food. It’s not so much about what you use as it is that you get the food dry in order to save it.
You can dry almost any type of food for later use, and this includes meat. You can also go ahead and use the food. Of course, you won’t be able to use everything in your freezer if it’s full, but you can go ahead and cook what you’re able to.
Top 5 Deep Freezers to Consider for Your Food Storage
1. Whynter CUF-210SS Energy Star
You want to buy the type of deep freezer that’s known for its durability. One of these is the Whynter CUF-210SS Energy Star. This is a small freezer that’s more suitable for a place where there’s not a lot of room.
It can store a couple of months’ worth of food supplies, but probably not more than that. It all depends on what you’re freezing. This is probably best for a single person or a couple rather than a large family.
If you have more than one or two people in your family or you’re looking to store a larger quantity of food that will keep for several months, then you’ll need a bigger deep freezer.
2. Plastic Development Group 13.7 Cubic Ft Freezer
You can get something like the Plastic Development Group 13.7 Cubic Ft freezer.
3. Commercial Top Chest Freezer 7 Cu. Ft.
Or there's this one from Plastic Development Group known for its quiet operation as well as the solid NSF rating.
4. Danby DCF072A3WDB-6 7.2 Cu.Ft. Garage Ready Chest Freezer
There’s also the Danby DCF072A3WDB-6 7.2 Cu.Ft. Garage Ready Chest Freezer. It’s 7.2 cubic feet and has a manual defrost operation. It’s the perfect size for your garage but it can also fit in the kitchen or storage room if you prefer.
5. Atosa MWF9016 Solid Top Chest Freezer
If you’re looking for a deep freezer that’s a little more high-end, there’s the Atosa MWF9016 Solid Top Chest Freezer. What makes this one stand out is the fact that it’s not a small deep freezer.
It boasts 16 cubic feet so it has more storage room. It has 3-inch insulation, which means it works to keep the food in the frozen state that it’s supposed to be in. There is a defrost drain so when you need to clean the appliance, it’ll be easier for you.
It also has stem castors, so if you don’t like the location where you originally put the freezer even when it’s full of food and heavy, you’ll still be able to move it to another spot.
This one also comes with a basket so that you can either store your smaller frozen items or you can lay out in advance what you plan to have for that week so that you don’t have to dig through the freezer when the time comes to get the food.
This one is easy to wipe clean of fingerprints and smudges. It also comes with a door lock so that you can keep thieves out of your food supply. What you buy in terms of a deep freezer might be dependent upon how many people you’re storing food for.
It also might depend on your available space as well as your budget for this survival storage. Not everyone has room for a big deep freezer or a budget that go into the thousands of dollars.
Make sure when you pick one and order it, that you make a plan for how to fill it up with the most nutritious, calorie-dense foods.
Don’t forget to also store your fruits and vegetables in frozen form. These will add nutrients to your diet if and when you ever find yourself in a survival situation where you’re unable to just visit the local store and get what you need.