Thank goodness the freezer is not a window into someone’s psyche. Many people’s are so packed with food you can barely close the door, much less know what’s in there. Once inside, you’ll probably find half-eaten bags of freezer-burned tater tots, rock-solid ice cream covered in crystals, and plenty of other sad specimens. Let’s not even mention the weirdos who keep their dead cats in the freezer because they haven’t decided how best to say goodbye. Even if you haven’t descended into freezer hoarderville, you could no doubt do with a little advice on keeping stuff orderly and tasting good in there. If you’re curious about how to avoid freezer burn, what to freeze and not freeze, and how to freeze it, read on.

1. Keep your freezer cold—duh. If the temperature of your freezer is inconsistent, foods will thaw and refreeze, promoting freezer burn (which happens when ice crystals migrate to the surface and food gets dehydrated). A cold freezer will freeze food fast and strong. Make sure the door seals properly, and keep the temperature at 0 degrees Fahrenheit or lower.

2. Don’t keep opening stuff up and resealing it. Exposing frozen food to air is another cause of freezer burn. Freeze things in serving-size portions.

1. Irma S. Rombauer, in Joy of Cooking, recommends keeping an inventory of what is in your freezer. That seems extreme. But seriously: You should know what is in there, and resist the urge to hoard. Try to think strategically about shorter-term meal plans. Rather than “I may need this some night,” think more like “I will need this next week for dinner.”

2. Freezer bags and heavy-duty freezer-safe containers are your friend. Make sure the bag or container edges stay dry to create a tight seal. Label with a Sharpie what’s inside and the date you froze it. Push the air out of bags before sealing, or suck the excess air out with a straw.

3. Avoid jamming things into your freezer like half-eaten baking dishes of lasagne loosely wrapped in foil. This is how things start to get stinky and out of control. If the freezer does get stinky, purge, clean, and start over.

So what should be in there? What shouldn’t?

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