Before starting this business I worked in a restaurant, back of the house, creating and cooking up endless jars of homemade jams, pickles, and prep work for the line staff. It also meant an endless amount of canning and packing up food for the fridge, freezer, and pantry. Doing that meant I got really familiar with the most coveted and essential items in the kitchen: a roll of painter’s tape and a permanent marker. Having a roll of tape and marker meant you could finish the task you started, because nothing is allowed to be packed away without a label. Period.
Everything had to be labeled and dated for a) health inspection requirements, as well as b) the sanity of the person who came to work behind you. The furry of the staff wasting precious time trying to determine if that magenta-hued jar is filled with the cranberry-pomegranate sauce they need for dessert or the roasted beets for a cheese plate and how old it is. I left the restaurant hours before any of the staff would open my jars and containers of food for service, so I had to let each container answer the questions someone would have asked me. Tape marked with the contents and date the item was prepared had to face out for easy answers.
Since then I started doing the same (even if slightly less vigilantly) at home. But just like work, my kids know that roll of tape and marker in the drawer next to the fridge are sacred. It’s the key to making the contents of the fridge, freezer, and pantry useable for the next person.
I just got back from a jumbo weekend of loving on my newest niece, Violet and her parents. When I wasn’t holding that week-old heaven-scented baby (is anything better than they smell of a new baby?) I filled the freezer with meals for my new-mama sister: roasted broccoli calzones, chicken noodle soup, hatch chile white bean stew, black bean soup, oatmeal cookies, homemade bread, chocolate walnut granola, almond pastries- the works, but the nicest thing we did was label it.
She’ll be famished and time-crunched with that new baby in her already busy life and those easy to read labels are a game-changing life-saver.
It doesn’t take long, it doesn’t need to be detailed, but labeling anything is like giving your future self (or the person that will be looking at that item later) a huge help.
4 Key Reasons You Should Start Labeling With Painter’s Tape:
1. It can take 30 seconds. Seriously, keep that roll of tape and a marker right where you package food in the kitchen and it will take seconds to slap a label on. If the tape or marker are hard to find, it takes longer and you’re likely to blow it off.
2. Save money and time. The more likely you know what’s in there at a glance, the more likely you’ll use it (and the easier it is to use) and you won’t be throwing the money and time you spent in getting that food put away wasted by throwing it out because it freezer burned, went moldy, or stale.
3. Do want to try and decipher what it is later? The longer the space between when you package is opened, the less likely you’ll recall what you put in there. You don’t want to hold all the information of all food you’ve put away in your brain. Chances are that information would freezer burn, mold, or stale just like the food, so do yourself a favor and just empty that information from your already crowded brain and put it on a 2 inch strip of tape.
4. Tape labels come off easily. Yes, you could use masking tape or write on your containers- but painter’s tape is especially suited to the task because they stay put and then they peel off without residue.
I’m fairly certain that the real mystery meat is whatever is hiding at the bottom of your freezer without a label. Don’t do that to yourself. Use a label. Make it painter’s tape.
Your future self will thank you.
Want more handy-dandy tips? Sign up for the weekly newsletter where I give out goodies like this like a garden enthusiast gives out zucchini in summer. 🙂