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Tuesday, August 22, 2023

Freezer Storage: Freezer Containers or Freezer Bags?

I was chopping and freezing Swiss chard and basil today. As I was trying to make room for the chard in the kitchen freezer, I had to smash down a whole bunch of bags. Miscellaneous containers just seemed to take up more space than the foods they contained.

As much of a nuisance as the hard-sided containers are, I do prefer those over bags for freezing liquids (blackberry juice, crabapple juice) and semi-liquids (pumpkin puree and applesauce). 

I'm now at the end of my supply of both containers and freezer bags, and I'm needing more for putting away additional garden produce. So I've got to decide what to acquire more of, bags or containers. 

So, I'm thinking this through. Maybe you can help by pointing out what I'm missing. Here's my pro and con list:

Starting with freezer bags

Bags -- pros

  • store in small amount of space when not in use
  • when filled and in the freezer, no additional airspace taking up valuable room
  • with less air in the bag, less chance of frost build-up or freezer burn on food
  • for loose foods in a large storage bag, like a gallon of peas or green beans, as the bag slowly empties, it can collapse and take up less space in the freezer 
  • washable for reuse
Bags -- cons
  • lack durability, can be used a handful of times each
  • any holes in the bag or damaged seal could cause leaking when thawing frozen items for cooking
  • if freezing semi-liquids or liquids, the bag will freeze solid in the shape it is in when placed in the freezer, possibly making it harder to stack with other bags in the freezer
  • need to be washed by hand

Now for sturdy freezer containers

Solid-side freezer containers -- pros
  • very durable, can last many years
  • good for liquids and semi-liquids
  • easy to wash in the dishwasher
  • stackable in the freezer
Solid-side freezer containers -- cons
  • depending on shape, they may not tessellate well with other containers in the freezer
  • cost -- more expensive to buy
  • if the food doesn't completely fill the container, the airspace not only takes up unnecessary space in the freezer, but frost can build up on the food
  • frozen containers are prone to cracking and chipping when dropped
  • bulky for storage when not in use

What am I missing? Do you have a preference for bags or containers? Do you store some foods in bags and other foods in solid-sided containers? Do you use glass jars for freezer storage? I personally have a fear of glass jars breaking in the freezer, even if that is rare.


  1. We use a combination of hard-sided plastic containers and freezer bags. My husband makes freezer jam and stores it in glass jars (typically ones that has been washed and reused, such as pickle jars)--these are stored in the door of our upright freezer and are less likely to break in that location. I share your fear of broken glass in the freezer. We have a stash of yogurt/cottage cheese containers which are used for freezing peaches, cherries, and other fruits. I think that there is a good argument for different styles of containers and it boils down to what, exactly, you want to store. You sparked curiosity on my part to see if there are other styles of storage. I found this article: and am intrigued by both the Tangibay bags as well as the Annaklin Collapsible Food Storage Containers with Airtight Lid, but I would want more information before purchasing either option.

    1. Thank you for that website link, Kris. I'll check it out.

  2. We too use a combination of bags and plastic containers. Used cottage cheese and similar things make the best freezer containers for us. I used to freezer chicken broth in canning jars (stronger than many other jars) and had no problems until one broke. I haven't done it since then. Cottage cheese containers have taken the place of the jars for us. I have also found that some plastic containers that you can buy will sometimes become brittle and crack in the freezer. These are the cheaper ones, and I guess you get what you pay for.

    1. Hi Live and Learn,
      I think you're right on you get what you pay for re: cheaper freezer containers. I find that so annoying, too. A cheap container will crack on the bottom and I won't realize it until I'm thawing something and it's oozing all over the counter or fridge shelf. I did buy some better quality freezer containers in 2020 that I've been pretty happy with. The brand is Arrow and I found them at our local Ace Hardware.

  3. A very loaded subject for sure!

    We use all of the above! My first rule is that if I can't fit anymore in the freezer, it's time to eat through some stuff. Second, I no longer use glass for freezing because I have had some break not by too much liquid but getting bumped around. Third, any plastic container I save (plastic mayonnaise jars, yogurt containers, cottage cheese, butter tubs, etc.) are used for any liquid or jams. Berries get put in gallon freezer bags, beans and cabbage in quart sized bags and whipped topping containers for freezer meals (yeah, we don't mind layers instead of compartments). My kids love coming over and getting to pick a meal to take home with them. I also freeze meat in the packaging that I buy them in and I know that many people repackage them but I don't. As for storage while not in use, I have a cupboard in the garage that is strictly used for big bowls, plastic utensils, storage containers, etc. I also have a box where I place any glass or plastic from things like pickles, mayo, butter tubs and the like. Some of those are used for pouring in meat fats and other disposable food for the trash. I also save all bags from loaves of bread and we use those for scooping out kitty poo from the litter box to put in the garbage. I have a bag holder for grocery bags to line the garbage bin and a second one for the odd sized ones for kitty poo or things like melon rind or something that needs to be disposed of that keeps the leakage to a minimum.

    1. Hi Alice,
      Thank you, thank you, thank you. I hadn't thought to store empty containers and jars in the garage. I'm in the process or organizing the garage this summer and I'll set aside some space for the empties as well as canning jars. My cupboards become overflowing at times during the year.

      I only repackage meat if I'm braking up a large package into smaller amounts. Otherwise, I do put the packages into second bags, a little extra protection from freezer burn, as the plastic wrap on meat is so thin. So far no real issues.

  4. We use a wide mix as well. And I've started to preserve some items differently in order to free up freezer space and use less containers. Greens, for instance; now I dehydrate them and can fit an insane amount of dried greens in a quart jar then able to be kept at room temperature. Same with extra zucchini. Homemade stock is pressure canned.

    We also vacuum seal some things which helps with freshness and taking up less space, such as our corn crop this year. If you make the vacuum bags a bit bigger than needed, they can be reused more times in the future.

    I do try not to freeze in glass simply for the hazard factor. Othewise, I'd prefer to do so.

    1. Hi Cat,
      the comments section is loaded with links and great tips. Thanks for reminding me to dehydrate some greens. Last year I dried sorrel for making sorrel soup. you're right, you can fit a lot of dried greens into a quart-sized jar. After reading your comment, I went out and picked enough sorrel for 2 batches of soup and dried it. It barely took up any space in the jar. I'll try doing summer squash this way, too. Thank you.


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