If you can easily scoop your ice cream, chances are your freezer is too warm to put microbes to sleep. Set the thermostat at 0 degrees F (-15 degrees to -20 degrees C) to keep those bugs at bay. And seal your containers tight.
Mad scientists have been holding glass containers to white-hot flames for decades. And you're worried about what your oven or stove might do to your leftovers? Don't be. Just use products that are specifically marked "freezer safe" (such as some Ball jars) or "freezer-to-oven safe" (such as Pyrex and Anchor Hocking). And use them only as directed -- no broiling or placing directly on an open flame. Look for pieces that have been made with borosilicate, as opposed to with soda lime glass, which was linked to a much-publicized rash of "exploding Pyrex" incidents. (Two to try: Anchor Hocking Bake 'N' Store Glass Dish and Lid and 10-Piece TrueSeal Glass Container, target.com.)
Look for freezer- and microwave-safe versions such as Tellfresh Square Food Storage (containerstore.com) that are free of bisphenol A (BPA), an endocrine disruptor that can affect hormonal function. If you plan to reuse take-out containers, check their recycling codes first: Numbers 3 and 7 aren't recommended for food storage.
The tiny compartments are ideal for small portions of sauces, juices, purees, and fruits. Again, look for BPA-free ones like Good Grips Ice Cube Tray (oxo.com).
You gotta love an affordable container that lets you keep batches of Bolognese sauce, rice, and soup as if they were books on a shelf. (Fill them when food is warm, cool in the fridge, lay flat in the freezer, and, once they're frozen, turn on edges. To thaw, place in a bowl of cool water.) Look for those made by 365 Everyday Value, Ziploc, or Glad -- they don't contain BPA.
Let 'Em Breathe
When adding new packages or containers, leave several inches of space between them to allow air to circulate and lower internal temperatures; once frozen, you can store items more tightly.
Keep It Moving
Place newest things in the back, and pull older foods to the front.
© 2014 Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. All rights reserved.