Updated: Dec 1, 2020
I have had a lot of people ask me about the various 'kit' that I use, so I thought it might be helpful to pop it all in one place.
I want to start by saying that none of this is necessary to get you started with overhauling your Freezer.
When I began on my journey of creating The Full Freezer, I used what I had.
Tupperware lids and baking trays instead of freezing trays; normal baking parchment instead of reusable; regular ice cube trays instead of the super cool ones below (I know, I know, I’m a total freezer geek).
BUT if you are going down the path of Freezer Filling then you may like to invest in some of the items below.
Some, I strongly recommend that you get (e.g. thermometers, knife sharpener and mesh tents).
Some are practical investments that make life easier (e.g. freezer trays/organisers and special ice cube trays).
Some are a higher investment but will save you so much time in the scheme of things (e.g. food processor).
I am also often asked about freezer bags, so I have covered these too.
You can use any freezer bags, but I strongly encourage you to think twice before stocking up on standard supermarket freezer bags. Although they can be reused, they can't be recycled.
Reusable silicone/PEVA freezer bags also have their own failings, so I have my preferences at the moment which fit my practical requirements and support my eco-desires (somewhat!)... read on to find out what I use!
These are all simply items that I have invested in over time which I feel bring me value.
Invest in it all, or ignore it – the choice is 100% yours!
Disclaimer: Some of these products/services feature affiliate links (marked with an *), meaning if you choose to purchase them, I will receive a small commission. What you need to know, is that they will cost you no more, and I swear on my Freezer that I will only ever promote products and services that I genuinely believe are useful and that I have used myself.
I don't think I ever sharpened a knife before I met my husband (that's not meant to sound sinister!). His parents got us some really nice Global Knives* for our wedding, and we realised that they were probably something we should really look after!
We got this knife sharpener, and have been using it ever since (over 6 years). I genuinely couldn't believe the difference sharpening our knives made to the ease of chopping stuff up (those that have always used a knife sharpener will probably be laughing at me right now, but I genuinely had no clue!).
Also, for those not in the know... your knives should not be put in the dishwasher as it will damage them!
This is quite genuinely one of my best investments. Not sexy. But completely necessary.
If your fridge or freezer aren't cold enough, then they're not preserving your food properly. It was only through having a fridge thermometer that I knew that the bottom drawer of our fridge (for some inexplicable reason!) was 9°C, when the rest of the fridge was 3°C (it needs to be between 1-5°C).
Why does this matter? Well, the bottom drawer is usually where I store our meat, and at 9°C, I may as well have slung it in the boot of our car and hoped for the best.
In the early days I just used these*, but I got frustrated by not knowing the exact temperature when the fridge/freezer were closed. The temperature would rise if I had been in and out a lot. I love that with this I can know everything is cold enough without having to open the door.
Full disclosure, I was gifted my Thermapen. But I have to say I absolutely love it.
The Professional model is waterproof, and has a rotational display that makes it so easy to use. If you are after a slightly more cost-effective version the Classic* still looks pretty good (it's water resistant, but not waterproof). I really like that these are made and calibrated in the UK too.
I consider these to be a necessity because quite frankly I have never gotten over cooking and cooling a roast chicken only to discover that the kitchen window had been open and a load of bluebottles had decided to make it into their lunch *wretch*.
I always cool food as quickly as possible before getting it into the fridge/freezer, but using these (particularly in summer months) to keep any pests away is an absolute must!
This is another one that was a wedding present for us and has lasted the test of time! They're not the cheapest boards, but they are really good quality and really have done us well. Keeping raw and cooked foods (particularly meat) is really important, so I really like having the designated chopping boards for when I'm prepping several things at once.
I didn't invest in these until much later in my Full Freezer journey, but I can honestly say that I love them so much. I have three of the mid-size and one large tray and I love that I can freeze so much more in one go because they neatly stack together. Because they have raised sides I also don't end up spilling frozen food (as has happened from time to time when using plastic picnic plates!).
Again, this was a much later investment for me, but they have saved me a fortune in baking parchment!
It also means that I'm not using as much baking paper (which isn't recyclable!) - I now only use disposable baking paper when freezing raw meat to avoid any risk of cross-contamination.
These are such a game changer! I've always hated the silicone ice cube trays as they're so prone to spilling (note to self, always put silicone ice cube tray on to another hard tray before pouring stuff in it!). My normal plastic ice cube trays also were frustrating as some things would get stuck in them.
These are the perfect balance. Plastic sides to avoid spillages and silicone bottoms so you can push things out of the easily. And they come with lids so you can stack them (and avoid anything contaminating them!). What's not to love?
To me this is really a nice to have rather than a need to have. In some drawers I'm using these, and in other drawers I've just got cardboard boxes carving up the space! The benefit of these is that you can of course adjust them in the drawer to split the space as required.
I would absolutely recommend splitting up your drawers into sections though as it is a really helpful way to avoid spending ages hunting through your freezer to find what you want.
This is clearly a more substantial investment, but if you are planning to prep and freeze food, it really is such a great item to have! I use mine to grate cheese and carrots, to slice veggies, and to make breadcrumbs for example. It's also fab for blitzing up fruit into smoothies or 'nice' cream.
These are so handy for whizzing up veg into a quick soup, or fruit into a smoothie. I also tend to use mine to bring defrosted dairy products 'back together' as the fats tend to separate from the liquid. Dairy products can look really unappealing (almost like they've curdled) when defrosting, but a quick whizz with this and they're good to go!
I battled for a long time to try and find a freezer bag that was more environmentally friendly than a standard supermarket freezer bag.
The obvious go-to is reusable silicone or PEVA bags, however these have their own drawbacks as they are often manufactured in China and have a significant carbon footprint. I also found that the ones I have tested were prone to breaking, difficult to wash, and often held the smells of certain foods.
I do not use tubs in my freezer as they take up a lot of space, make it difficult to find things and don't protect the food from freezer burn as effectively.
These Ikea Istad bags (which I review in depth in my e-book The Full Freezer (Save Food, Save Time, Save Money)) are my current compromise. They are made predominantly from a bi-product of the sugarcane industry making them both renewable and recyclable.
I also like them on a practical level as they come in a variety of sizes, have a double seal and are easy to wash a dry! I can also label them with a Sharpie and then wash it off, making them very easy to reuse.
These are substantially more expensive than the Ikea Istad bags, and only come in two sizes. They also will naturally break down over the course of a year, and it's not possibly to wash off any labelling.
Because of this, I just use these for freezing raw meat and fish as I would not reuse any bag that has contained these items.
These are really handy if you are wanting to freeze any batch cooked or leftover dishes such as lasagne or pies (items that cannot be flat frozen). They can be chucked straight into the oven still frozen (just give 50% more cooking time, so if you'd usually cook for one hour, cook for an hour and a half).
NOTE: For dishes such as cottage pie, I actually flat freeze the meat and the mashed potato separately, then just defrost quickly in cold water, assemble and cook as I find it takes up much less space in the freezer, allows us to enjoy much more variety (e.g. using the mash or the meat to make a different meal), and I can get it on the table much faster. If you want minimum effort at the cooking stage though, these are a winner!
Drawer Labels (Currently Unavailable) --> Some Alternatives
To keep my freezer space super organised I had custom labels made by The Label Lady. These include things such as 'dairy', 'veggies', 'meat' and 'bakery'. These are currently unavailable so I have linked to these alternatives on Etsy - please note I haven't tested these out myself so cannot attest to the quality (although they do all generally look like they have good reviews!). Always make sure your drawer is clean and dry before putting the stickers on - it won't adhere to them if they've come straight out of the freezer!