An extra freezer in your garage or basement has great advantages. If you enjoy hosting large gatherings, having the extra space to freeze a ready meal or store frozen snacks (hey, no judgment) can ease some stress leading up to the event. event. Or maybe you have a large family and like to buy in bulk. Gone are the days of trying to squeeze a 10-pound bag of chicken into the tiny freezer attached to your fridge.
A freezer with extra space to store frozen foods and meals will not only make preparing for an event easier, but it can also save you some money. You can take advantage of the sale knowing you won’t be cramming your regular freezer. However, a disorganized chest freezer can lead to food waste. While we may think they can be safely stored in the freezer for a long period of time, frozen foods go bad after a while. If you don’t keep track of what you put in a freezer, things can easily slip through the cracks.
Do you feel like your freezer could use a good cleaning session? Follow along to learn how to organize a chest freezer faster than whipping up a pan of lasagna to put in it.
1. Clean up what doesn’t belong or went bad
Editing the contents of your home doesn’t have to take as much time as you might think. Your freezer is only a small area, so consider this task necessary rather than daunting.
Lay down a towel or two on a nearby surface, or set up a folding table, and start pulling everything out of the freezer. If the original packaging has an expiration date past its prime or if you are unsure of its contents or if you have frozen it, chances are it is no longer good. Evidence of freezer burn is another obvious indication. Continue to shrink items until you only have food that is still good.
2. Sort food by type
Once you’ve cleaned up, the next step is sorting. For frozen foods, create categories such as meats, fruits and vegetables, ready meals (further separated by homemade and store bought if you like), infant foods, sweets such as ice cream tubs, pizza, and so on. This process not only gives you an idea of what you might need to stock up on, but also helps you create zones in your freezer.
3. Organize zones with containers
Now comes the part where you can embrace your inner Marie Kondo and get creative with containers. Your freezer isn’t on display for anyone to ooh and ahh over, so think functionality over design. The appearance of your chosen organizers is not so important. However, the material is key if you want them to hold up over time.
It’s tempting to recycle cardboard boxes for freezer storage, but paper softens and falls apart when wet. Plastic baskets are suitable for use in freezers, but make sure they are made of a sturdy material so they won’t crack if you put something heavy in them. Look for containers designed specifically for use in refrigerators and freezers, such as acrylic stackable bins.
Or jump on the eco-friendly organization trend and use reusable silicone bags. Of course, resealable plastic bags can withstand extended periods of time in the freezer. However, the reusable version is more durable, seals better and drastically reduces plastic waste. If you store a lot of your food in bags, place them upright in a container so they don’t get buried.
Regardless of the containers you choose, keep freezer zones separate and make sure everything is clearly visible so you can easily reach in to grab what you need.
4. Label everything you can
Whether you’re organizing a small freezer or an oversized freezer, things will need to be stacked vertically, so labeling is a critical step. This prevents questions afterwards about what is actually in each frozen container. Also mark the expiration date or at least the date you made the item or meal. Mark single-use bags with a permanent marker and apply a moisture-resistant label sticker to reusable containers.
5. Keep an inventory and check it regularly
If you want to take it one step further when it comes to organizing a freezer, keep a list of items you currently have in the freezer along with important information such as expiration dates or cooking instructions. You can do this electronically on a spreadsheet or have a physical list on a clipboard hanging by the freezer so you’re less likely to forget to keep track of it.