Author Topic: organizing your freezer?  (Read 1077 times)

Lady SA

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organizing your freezer?
« on: April 26, 2018, 10:28:45 AM »
I feel like this must be an adulting life skill that I have completely missed out on. I cannot for the life of me figure out how to organize, and more importantly, FIND, all the crap that I have in my chest freezer. Lack of easy access to all the random stuff I have in there is my biggest pet peeve with it.

My problem is essentially that all of the oldest stuff is on the bottom, and that means to use it, I would have to dig. But then I'm really lazy, so I always end up taking the first one I see (off the top), then replacing that one, and then again using the new stuff because it is more convenient! And I have a bunch of misc stuff in there that doesn't pack nicely and is really hard to keep track of. For example, we will get venison in a few different cuts -- shank, steaks, sausage links, ground, etc. But it is all packed in freezer paper and then labelled. So I'll have like 2-5 packs of each of these items, and a total of like 20 packs (all different sizes and weights so they don't stack nice), and they are all just jumbled in the bottom of the freezer. If I want to get some ground meat for burgers, I have to leave the door open for a few minutes (ugh!) while I dig around searching for just one freaking pack of it. In the process of digging and searching, I mix everything up even more.

Or the store will have a sale on frozen veggies or chicken breasts or other staples so I stock up (so again, items that are all different sizes and shapes and hard to balance/stack). I end up just dumping all the items in there willy nilly, and forget what I have, or I start cooking and then can't find the pack of broccoli I need but I know is in there somewhere... every time I even touch the freezer, it gets worse and worse lol

I think my biggest problem is because it opens from the top, things are all laying on top of each other (because gravity) so I can't see all the things (I feel like a side-open chest freezer would be better because you could see everything like a bookshelf, instead of just the top-view of the top layer). I've seen people use baking sheets to separate layers, but this doesn't solve the problem of GETTING to the lower layers in the first place. Do people just take out all the baking sheets and lay them all over the house until you unearth the lowest layers? Do you do this every time you need something?!
Or maybe shelves, but this still doesn't solve the problem of getting at items on the lower levels that are in the back of the shelf (or keeping track of what is on which shelf). You'd still have to lift out the shelves to get to the bottom.
Also, neither of these really helps with trying to use the oldest stuff first, because its really difficult to dig down and then lift everything up to put the new things on the bottom. I can do this with my pantry shelf, I just put new cans/jars in the back and pull the older stuff toward the front. But gravity makes doing a similar thing for the freezer practically impossible.

I really like having a chest freezer, it is pretty great cost savings, but I don't think I'm taking full advantage of the freezer because I avoid getting things that aren't on super sale because I'm reluctant to clutter it up even more.

Do any of you fine people have any genius tips for keeping your freezer organized and keeping all the items in it easily accessible?

TrMama

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Re: organizing your freezer?
« Reply #1 on: April 26, 2018, 10:54:55 AM »
Baskets. Get the baskets that hang from the top (Google image search to see what I'm talking about).

If that's not enough, also get some baskets or bins that sit on the bottom so you can further organize things. When you want something from the bottom, just pull out the upper baskets to reach it.

Altons Bobs

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Re: organizing your freezer?
« Reply #2 on: April 26, 2018, 11:15:25 AM »
Baskets here also. No baskets = mess. With baskets = less of a mess.

Penny Lane

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Re: organizing your freezer?
« Reply #3 on: April 26, 2018, 12:05:52 PM »
I sympathize!  Not easy, but containerize the different categories.  I put ground meats together, stew meats together, etc as if I want to make a chili/stew, I am going for a certain cut.  When you get your 20 packages of venison, you have to take out the meat column and put the new stuff on the bottom.  Yes, this is a royal pain.  I freeze a lot of fruit and veg in ziplock bags and put berries together, cut fruit together, cooked/roasted tomatoes in another area etc.  I have a legal pad on top of the freezer with a line for every type of frozen food; I make a little square on that line when I add a package and cross out a square when I use one.  Keeps me from searching for something I have already used. Hard to find a system that works, but I find this is pretty effective at tracking what is in there!

NV Teacher

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Re: organizing your freezer?
« Reply #4 on: April 26, 2018, 01:39:33 PM »
I've found boxes that are the perfect size for my chest freezer. I can fill them and stack them neatly.  When I need something that is on the bottom I just lift out the top two boxes and get what I need. 

Lady SA

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Re: organizing your freezer?
« Reply #5 on: April 26, 2018, 01:41:06 PM »
I knew I was asking the right group! Baskets and containerizing is genius and so obvious that I can't believe I didn't think of it.

I'm going to break out some of the amazon boxes I have in the recycling, cut the tops off, and put related stuff in each box, then stack and organize the BOXES, instead of each individual item! Hallelujah!

I also really like the idea of a tracking sheet to know what you are low on and what you have in stock at a glance. But I think I might get annoyed when I start running out of room for one category and have to re-make the entire sheet though... I'll have to think on this, because I want to try something similar but see if I can somehow mitigate unnecessary re-writing of the page when I run out of room eventually. Hm.

Thank you!!

GizmoTX

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Re: organizing your freezer?
« Reply #6 on: April 26, 2018, 01:53:27 PM »
Baskets here. We have some coated wire ones in addition to the plastic one that came with the freezer.
If I make up freezer meals in gallon freezer bags, I freeze them as flat as possible. Then they can be added to a basket upright, like files.
Label & date everything.
You could use multiple tracking sheets, one per box/basket/category. Just cross off an item as you use it. You shouldn't have to make a new sheet very often. Use the FIFO system: first in, first out. Don't let items get too old.

HipGnosis

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Re: organizing your freezer?
« Reply #7 on: April 26, 2018, 02:00:08 PM »
Dollar stores have baskets of many sizes

TrMama

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Re: organizing your freezer?
« Reply #8 on: April 27, 2018, 10:58:21 AM »
I also really like the idea of a tracking sheet to know what you are low on and what you have in stock at a glance. But I think I might get annoyed when I start running out of room for one category and have to re-make the entire sheet though... I'll have to think on this, because I want to try something similar but see if I can somehow mitigate unnecessary re-writing of the page when I run out of room eventually. Hm.

Thank you!!

There's an app for that ;-) I use Out Of Milk for both grocery lists (with prices) and pantry/freezer lists. It interfaces with the voice to text app on my phone so when I need to run "inventory" I just dictate the contents of the freezer. Only takes a couple minutes.

There are a million and one free apps that do this.

jeninco

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Re: organizing your freezer?
« Reply #9 on: April 28, 2018, 02:31:43 PM »
We may have a slightly different setup, but here's what works for us:

We have a chest freezer and a side-by-side freezer/fridge. This means that some quantity of stuff can go in the freezer side of the side-by-side, and stuff that's in longer-term storage goes in the chest freezer.

We buy 1/2 steer every year, which arrives in late September. So I try to time the using-up-of-the-beef to be some time in early September. Then I can plan for an empty chest freezer by mid-Sept, and
 unplug it, let it warm up, and wipe it out. This means that nothing will ever stay hidden in there more then a year.

It also means that the great bulk of what goes into the chest freezer goes in in Sept, so I can organize it then: ground beef stacked on ground beef in the southwest corner, stew meat (we get ours cut up, mostly) in the south east corner, and the northwest corner is beef to grill (in the summer, generally) on the bottom, beef for pot roasts and slow cooking on top (so we use that up -- mostly -- in the winter). I pull out the 2 lbs or so of fillet mignon and stick them with a few other random pull-outs in the northeast corner (they get used at special, specific times, so the fillet is for a backcountry ski trip we take over Christmas).

Plenty of other stuff moves in-and-out of the freezer -- bacon (my husband gets 5 lbs or more for Christmas from my aunt), bread (which I buy several loaves at a time), muffins )we sometimes make up to 4 dozen at a time, and then feed the kids for snacks), frozen vegetables, poultry stock when I make an entire turkey carcass worth... But, basically, I know where to stick my hands to get most of what I want, and I know what the different packages look and feel like, so it's fairly easy to find things. I've also reduced the number of kinds of things I buy in bulk, so there aren't that many categories of things -- ground beef, beef to slow-cook, beef to grill, frozen kale and corn, pesto (which I just realized needs to be used up), stock, bread, muffins, bacon -- that might be the complete list. And as corners of the freezer empty out  from one type of thing over the course of the year other stuff can move off the "top layer" into more manageable corners -- the NE corner is now empty of meat, and contains pesto, frozen kale, and muffins. Taking them off the top makes it easier to see everything.

This reminds me, though, it's April, and I need to at least eyeball what's left. If we have an extra rump roast in there, there's demand for jerky..

If I kept a larger variety of things in there, I'd definitely try the bins-and-boxes technique. And possibly a list... I do have to say, I like the "completely empty it and wipe it out once/year" tactic -- it really solves the "I wonder how long this has been in here?" question.

SnackDog

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Re: organizing your freezer?
« Reply #10 on: April 28, 2018, 03:35:50 PM »
If all you are doing is using and re-using the stuff on the top layer in your chest freezer, the rest is basically waste and so is your electric bill.

We find that by optimizing use of the freezer portion of our refrigerator, we don't need an additional freezer. We don't buy vast quantities (like some of you) so we can manage what we freeze in a normal size freezer compartment. Even still, there is junk in there for six months at a time.  I think it would be optimal to 1) freeze as little as possible, 2) freeze for as short a time as feasible, and 3) prioritize fresh over frozen whenever possible.