Keep your fridge calm and quarantine on.

By Perri Ormont Blumberg
March 25, 2020
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Like many, Ina Garten has come to rely on her freezer and pantry more than ever when it comes to cooking sensibly during the coronavirus pandemic. We're ready to go fix ourselves a big batch of spiked Arnold Palmers and heed all that the Barefoot Contessa tells us.

Our first manner of business? Getting our freezer organized as we stock it with long-lasting meals that we can defrost and reheat as needed. To that point, we're relieved that Garten snapped a photo of her freezer along with some helpful snippets of advice for maintaining freezer savvy: "I used to keep only chicken stock, vanilla ice cream and vodka in my freezer but now I’m really learning how to use it!" Garten captions the picture. Next, she launches into five pieces of practical wisdom:

  • "Allow food to cool to room temp before packing it in containers," she writes. Duly noted, Captain Contessa.
  • "Leave a space in the container because liquids expand when they freeze," she says. Good point, and the middle school science experiments are all flooding back to us right about now.
  • "Label each container so you know what it is and when you froze it," says Garten. We repeat: Label, label, label. This will help keep you track of when you need to eat things by and also ensure you no longer squint at freezer containers endlessly trying to decipher their contents before ultimately giving up and tossing.
  • "Don’t stack containers until they’re frozen so they freeze quickly," suggests Garten. Who knew? We'll definitely be following this smart idea from now on.
  • "Defrost food in the fridge overnight rather than on the counter. It’s safer!" offers Garten. And since it might take some time to adjust on relying on your freezer so much for everyday meals, you may find it helpful to set a reminder alarm as a cue to decide on what meals are on tap and move them to the fridge.

We definitely will be making use of this advice as we all hunker down at home and prepare ourselves for the weeks ahead. And Mrs. Garten, we still think that ice cream and vodka count as freezer essentials.