Make the Most of Your Freezing Friend
Updated November 2016 – Since my original chest freezer organization post in August 2013, I have moved two times and downsized my freezer space from two large chests to just one. Now freezer organization is even more important.
Do you feel this way? It’s grocery shopping day. You’ve had a hectic day and it’s late, but the shopping needs to be done. You get home and pile everything on the kitchen counters, asking the kids and your spouse for help putting things away.
Sorting things into pantry, refrigerator, and freezer area everyone takes a pile and puts things away. How does your family put the meat, vegetables, and ice cream into the freezer? If they are like mine, they finish as quick as possible and dump it in there into a big pile.
It’s amazing how quickly the organization plan you have for your freezer will get out of control. A family friendly system is a necessity if you expect your kids and spouse to help you keep it organized. Otherwise, they will just drop food in there without regard to whatever you have planned and then the mess begins again.
I spent last Saturday pulling out the contents of my freezer and re-evaluating my organization plan. I need something super simple that everyone can use. I decided to keep the bag and cloth box plan from before and instead give each bag a number.
Then I created a word document with a series of boxes labeled with the corresponding number. I hand wrote all the items that I placed in each bag and how many of each item we have. It is hanging on a hook next to the freezer. Get a free copy of the label document in pdf format with this link
Now when someone wants to find stew meat they can look at the inventory and find bag #1. Looking for chicken? That’s in bag #3.
Looking for chicken? That’s in bag #3. Do we have any blueberries left? Yep, they’re in bag #6. Cross it off the list when you remove an item, please!
In addition, when someone goes to the freezer they can add things to any bag they want. All they have to do is write each item down on the inventory sheet. It’s not as easy as dumping it all in a pile, but it is simple enough that my family can follow the rules.
My Updated Chest Freezer Organization Plan
1. FIFO -First In First Out is a basic inventory practice. Be sure that you are using the oldest items in your freezer first. That means you will need a way to keep track of what you have in there and rotate it regularly.
2. Keep a simple freezer inventory list in a handy place and teach your family to use it. For us, that is on a clipboard on the wall next to the freezer. I set up a word doc and printed out pages marked with each bag number. Now my family can write when they take something out or add something in. It is right there, within easy reach.
3. Use a series of easy to move bins and bags to separate the food. Since the main challenge with chest freezers is effectively using the bottom area, I chose to use cloth shopping bags and bins to do this. They were inexpensive and will be easy to move.
4. Label each by making tags for every bag. I made laminated tags that should last a long time and can easily be re-tied and moved when I need to. Plus my family will have no doubt about what is in each one.
5. Compartmentalize for easy access. Split your freezer into sections and keep different kinds of food in each area. Meat in one section, precooked meals in another, and fruits and vegetables in a third area. Consider using your kitchen freezer for short term freezer items and opened bags of produce.
6. Freeze items flat and stand them up. Space saving at its best! I place my precooked foods in Ziploc bags or FoodSaver bags and freeze them flat. Then I use the wire bins that come with the freezer and stack them upright with the name of the dish written at the top.
7. Use Energy Efficient packing by placing water bottles in the bottom. A full chest freezer is energy efficient and will save me money. If I have extra space I will fill it with 3/4 full pop bottles. This gives me the flexibility to add and remove bottles as I need to and helps retain the cold inside the freezer if the power is out.
8. Make it accessible. We have a family rule not to put anything on top of the freezers. That way we can always get into them easily and get what we need without moving a bunch of stuff around.
Here’s the original Chest Freezer Organization ideas post from 2013
I have two chest freezers that were very unorganized. You would think that because I use them as part of my food storage plan, I would have a system for finding things easily, but you would be wrong!
We moved a few years ago and I have just dumped our things into them. Beef from a cow we had butchered, vegetables and fruits I’ve taken the time to prepare, cheese purchased in bulk and repacked into smaller manageable sizes. It’s a mess! Now that I’m moving again I desperately need some chest freezer organization ideas.
The Chest Freezer Organization Problem
First, I have no idea what’s in them. Are we getting low on ground beef? I think we have a few whole chickens left, but which one are they in? You see my dilemma…
Next, I don’t know what to put in each freezer. Should they each have a different purpose? One for beef and one for other meat. One for meat and one for precooked meals? It is currently a big jumble.
Plus, chest freezers are hard to organize, especially the bottoms. You always need to stack things on top of each other. How will I get past that?
Finally, I’m a frugal gal and I don’t want to spend $100’s of dollars on freezer organization.
I have been putting off doing this for so long, but the move has given me inspiration. I did the research and purchased the things many months ago and never found the time. Now I’m glad I have.
I should show you the reality…here is a picture of my freezers with all the stuff on top! Yikes – how did we get in there?
These websites were useful as I was doing the research to make my plan:
The Kitchn – 5 enviably well-organized freezers
Stuff Parents Need, – 4 ways to organize your deep freeze
Tammy’s Recipes – 10 tips for organizing a chest freezer
sZinteriors – no cost organization for a chest freezer
QueenBee Coupons – tips for organizing and maximizing your freezer space
Living the Frugal Life – so you’ve got a chest freezer
Share your freezer storage ideas in the comments section below. Do you keep a freezer inventory?
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