Monday, July 5, 2010

Managing Your Milk Bank

There are lots and lots of ways that you could potentially organize your frozen milk bank.  The two types of collection containers for freezing and storing milk are either plastic cups (like this or this), or plastic bags.  Unless you've got a deep freezer with lots and lots of space, I personally recommend using plastic bags - they take up less room and cost far less money.  I like Gerber brand, but the Medela and the Lansinoh are great too.  Here's a list for an easy way to store and organize your stash while and maximizing freezer space.

Checklist: Storing Milk
  1. Label the bag with a permanent marker - include the date and amount of milk to be stored.
  2. Pour milk into freezer-safe breastmilk bags and squeeze out any extra air.  I suggest you only pour about 2-3oz total in each bag, so that you can choose to thaw a small amount.  You can always thaw more milk, but it can't be thawed and refrozen.
  3. Lay the milk down on a flat surface somewhere in your freezer (on top of the ice cream works well!).
  4. Once frozen, the bag will be a nice thin, flat rectangle.  Designate a bin of some type (an empty ice bin works well) for storage.
  5. As you accumulate milk, stand the frozen bags up, Rolodex style, in your bin.  Always add newer milk to the back, and use milk from the front.  That way you use up the oldest milk first, rotate your stash automatically, and never worry about some of your liquid gold becoming expired!  If you have a very large stash, you may need to have several containers for storage - some periodic rotation of your stash from bin to bin will be required.
There are several products on the market that promise to help you keep everything neat and orderly.  If you really want one of these, go for it.  However, my experience is that these systems are cumbersome to use and don't hold nearly as much as a decent sized Tupperware container.

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