A chest freezer is a great way to store a lot of food, but it is easy for it to become disorganized. Storing frozen food only saves you money if you can find it when you need it. This is a guide for organizing your chest freezer.
I make a list of items that I store in my chest freezer, and keep in taped on the inside of a kitchen cabinet door. As I use the items, I cross the item off the list. As I add more to my chest freezer, I add the item to the list.
I have the items listed under sub-titles, such as:
I leave room under each sub-title for items that I need to add at a later date. Every 6 months or so, I'll re-do the list as it does get a bit messy looking. But, that's easy, I make the list on "Wordpad" on my computer and save it, so I can easily go back to delete items and add items.
By Kathy from Beaumont, CA
Surely veggies deserve more than a Misc. tag? ; )
I must admit that I read these tips and I don't remember where. (It may have even been on this site!) The article I read suggested using small baskets for different categories of food. The categories were as follows: beef, chicken, pork, prepped foods, and prepared foods.
I have a garden and don't consume that much meat so my categories combine beef and pork and add veggies. Prepped foods would include things like chopped peppers, onions, etc., prepared sauces such as marinara, or perhaps shelled nuts. Prepared foods would include casseroles ready for the oven, meatballs ready to cook, etc. This seems to work for me. I purchased my small plastic baskets for around $1.50 at the dollar store. Of course these are just suggestions. Each of us have different tastes and needs. However you choose organize it, the baskets seem to do the trick!
I also have quart size canning jars for small packages of chopped nuts, ginger nubs, nutmeg, etc. This prevents the small packages from falling into cracks and getting lost. Gallon size resealable bags would also work great for these small items.
When I freeze in plastic bags, I try to make them as flat as possible and place on a cutting board in the freezer. (Remove cutting board when packet is frozen.) The flatter the better for storing!
By Mom L from Graham, TX
All good ideas and ones I plan to put to use in our chest freezer. It's true that I can never find anything in there, and once it's buried, it tends to remain that way. There is a large basket at the top that is built into the freezer, and it should have given me the idea about using the rest of the space. It's going to be a job now, but I'm looking forward to it. I'm not a disorganized person at all, but that chest freezer has gotten away from me.
Thank you for suggesting some simple ways to correct it. They are just the very incentive I needed to get started.
If you live in a cold climate, save even more freezer space at this time of year by simply putting things outside (in sealed containers, of course)!
To organize my chest freezer, I use plastic grocery bags. I put like things in a bag and label it. It's easy to pick up the bags on top and move them to get to the things underneath.
Out with our chest freezer I have an old chalk board, I have marked it down in sections: right side, middle, and left side for both top and bottom sections. One part is fruit, another meat, another frozen meals, etc.
I just bought a Kenmore 5.0 freezer chest. It is the first one I have ever owned and I am just looking for tips. I want freeze as much as I can for reusing. I guess I should ask what not to freeze too?
Joyce from Danvers, MA
You can freeze bread loaves and milk too. Keep most recent foods on bottom of items purchased prior. Many leftover foods can be placed in your freezer; just keep them airtight. Wrapping with wax paper and then foil or freezer bags. I like to squeeze the food in gallon size bags flat because it takes up less space than well rounded filled bags. Thawing if faster also.
When my freezer is only partially full, I add gallon milk jugs filled with water. The gallon jugs of ice help to keep the temperature of the freezer colder, thus using less electricity, plus they help keep everything frozen in the event of a power outage.
HI, This is a good time of the year for filling a freezer. I am making soups to freeze for the cold months. blanch corn on the cob, remove from the cob and put in freezer containers, skin tomatoes and chop and freeze for recipes, zucchini bread or even frozen grated zucchini, bread form the bread store, one thing i like to do is to have a bag or container and put in all the little left over bits of veggies, when full, make a pot of veggie soup. yum yum; good luck
Just about anything can be frozen, except those things that need to be served fresh and raw, such as cucumbers and lettuce. If you grow your own vegetables, you can freeze them for later use. If you do not, buy things from the farmers market or when they are on sale, repackage and refreeze. One can also buy meat from local farmers, have it packaged, and store that in your freezer. If that is not something that are able to do, certainly you can buy things in large packages, and repackage into smaller lots for your family, especially if you are only two or three. It is very important, for any freezing, to pack things in airtight packages and remove the extra air. I like to use ziplock freezer bags, as they are so easy, and I reuse these (wash and save), so I feel that the extra expense is worth it. I like to do soups and particularly juicy things like frozen raspberries in plastic containers. You can purchase these, or reuse cottage cheese, yoghurt containers, margarine, cool whip, anything like that.
Fresh bread or baking can also be frozen -- purchased bread in its regular bag, homemade in a recycled bread bag. Cookies, tarts, and such can be put in bags or into larger plastic containers like ice cream pails.
I also freeze individual portions of leftovers to take for school lunches. I use sandwich boxes for these.
You can also make your own TV dinners if you are so inclined, to help save time during busy periods. If you put them in foil containers, they can be rewarmed in the oven. If you put these in plastic containers, they can be warmed in the microwave.
Most fresh veggies need to be blanched before freezing, but most fruits can be frozen just with sugar (strawberries, raspberries).
How do I keep my cube freezer organized?
By Theresa from Aston, PA
I bought plastic storage bins and organized one for meat, one for vegetables, one for fruit etc. That way you can lift the whole bin out of the freezer and get what you want out of it. I used larger ones and when you leave the lids on it they are stackable and don't take up as much room.
I want my $$$ worth, so found just too much valuable space being wasted by using asst. boxes and fancy containers in my freezer. Plastic bags eventually became brittle from the cold and ripped at the wrong time. Nobody knew where the spilled contents went, so they just tossed it back onto the pile. Grr.
Someone suggested using different color pillowcases for freezer foods. Stopped at the local thrift shop to pick up a variety of cheapie pillowcases, washed them thoroughly and tried it. It worked! No more brittle broken plastic bags, more room. Pillowcases can be moved around to fill in the chinks, are more sturdy, easy to clean, and most of all easily identified.
Tan-breads; yellow-dairy; dk green-summer veggies; lt. green-winter veggies; purple-chicken; orange-pork; white-fish; red-beef; blue-boxed foods (onion rings, tater tots, etc.); plaid-precooked meals; stripes-fruits & nuts; flowered-to be canned/sundry. Now even hubby & kids find anything we need-no excuses! The pillowcases hold less but are easier to lift out of the freezer for those with bad backs, easy to just grab and go/clean out, and no more cold hands!
We keep a running contents loose leaf tab notebook nearby for easy reference. Hubby was fascinated by the freezer dividers at a store once, and whipped up some out of sealed pegboard for airflow. Fantastic! So much easier to find things now. Plus they stay where you put them. Ahhh.
I have a large chest freezer. I have lots of frozen vegetables in quart plastic freezer containers. These tumble over frequently and get all mixed up. I have some baskets that slide on the uppermost part of the chest. The quart containers sit on the floor and stack up to the baskets. I need something that divides the rows. Any advice?
By judygu from Warrior, AL
I use the re-useable shopping bags and group the different foods in each one. Sure is easy to find stuff with the handles there to lift the bags. (07/27/2009)
Some freezers come with dividers, made out of the vinyl coated wire, like the baskets. You may be able to buy such a thing someplace. I have these in my freezer. If you cannot find the exact thing, perhaps you can find something like a shelf from an old frig or an oven rack that will work as a divider. (07/30/2009)
I use plastic crates (like milk crates) to separate categories. I mostly keep meat in my chest freezer, so I have one for pork, one for chicken, one for seafood, and one for beef (and venison). I also have one basket that came with the freezer and one little shelf on which I put "miscellaneous" items.
You can fit 4 of the crates in my freezer. I just lift out the one I need. (08/30/2009)
My parents have a huge commercial type chest freezer from the restaurant they used to own. It holds tons of meats and veggies, but keeping everything organized was a nightmare. They had several of those 12 oz. soda can crates from Pepsi and Coca Cola left from their restaurant just laying around.
Since my parents buy a lot of their meats and veggies in bulk to save money, my mom invested in a vacuum food sealer. She labels the packages before adding the food and sealing them. Then she places the packages in those crates and stacks them in the bottom. She keeps each type of food in its own crate (pork in one, chicken in another, veggies in another, etc.), but there may be two or three crates of each type of food.
She got tired of searching for exactly what she wanted so, she cut some index cards in half to make tags and wrote down the foods from each crate on them (like pork chops, pork fingers, pork roast, pork ribs, etc.). Then she covered them with clear packing tape, trimming off the excess, punched a hole in the corner of the tags, and tied them to the crate handles with twine. Now when she wants something, all she has to do is read the tags and she can go right to the food she wants in seconds. She uses the baskets that came with the freezer to store loaves of bread, packages of pecans (she has three huge pecan trees and spends her winters shelling them for pies and candy), and pie shells. (04/14/2010)