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To save space and make extra room in my freezer, I remove the supermarket packaging. I cut out the label, and place the product and label, into a clear "snap lock" type sealed bag. The label tells me the item and date. The bag replaced the packaging which I have found to take up about 30-40% of the space.
Also I separate bulk items into portion packs, each portion is separately bagged. By using the labeled bag last I always know content details of the separated bags.
By George D. from Melbourne, Australia
I was sick of things sliding off each other so I spent about 45 minutes doing this.
Using dollar tree or thrift store shoe boxes, you can label and sort your leftovers, meat by kind, veggies, seafood, and more.
I keep an inventory of what and when I put up there but if you label them, that is often good enough.
NOTE: I eat lima beans a lot. They are only available certain times of the year in my stores, so I buy several bags and just open and pour them into a clean shoe box. I can scoop out as much or as little as I want and the new headband keeps the box closed as it's on a precarious tilt.
Source: Seen things like this on Pinterest and Wimp.com
When it comes to organizing your freezer, the first thing you need to do is clean it out. Go through the contents and throw away everything that is freezer burned or otherwise unusable. This goes for large bags of French fries that only have a handful left in the bag. (Might be a good time to make yourself a snack!)
Next, you need to come up with a plan to put the rest of the stuff back in. If you have some things that have been opened but are still good then try removing them from their boxes and placing them in freezer bags instead. This works particularly well for popsicles.
Now you can start organizing the stuff you have left. Think of your freezer in terms of planning a meal. Keep your meats, your sides, and your vegetables together. On one side of your freezer (or one shelf) try stacking your poultry, fish, beef, etc. On the other, stack your frozen peas, French fries, and broccoli. For the remainder of your space, put "fast" foods and snacks together such as pizzas, Hot Pockets, ice cream, etc.
If you're the type of person who buys in bulk and ends up getting a package of 20 chicken drumsticks even though you only have a family of 3, open the package when you get home and divide it. Place however many drumsticks your family will eat at once into separate freezer bags. The bags themselves are generally easier to store than the large packages. That way, you won't have to thaw the whole thing the next time you want to cook chicken, you'll just have to thaw the portion that you're actually going to cook.
Note: Remember that when you're thawing your meats it's always safer to thaw them in your refrigerator overnight or in a microwave than to place them on your kitchen counter and let them thaw at room temperature.
I've found a way to keep my freezer organized that saves me both time and money. I have plastic bins that fit on the shelves and are labeled as to contents: chicken, beef, fish. I have 2 other bins labeled "prepared food" and "prepped ingredients".
"Prepared food" contains individually frozen servings of cooked meats (chicken breast, pork chops, slices of meatloaf, etc.) and also portions of soups, stews, and casseroles. I always cook more than we'll eat at one meal, so I have planned leftovers.
"Prepped ingredients" holds recipe/meal size portions of chopped vegetables, cooked beans, rice, pasta, etc. Anytime I chop veggies, I chop 2 or 3 times what I need and package the extra for the freezer. I cook the entire bag of dry beans and do the same. Same goes for rice.
I have a vacuum sealer that works great for this. The packages are compact and easily stacked and nothing gets freezer burn. I've had great success with onions, leeks, celery, bell peppers, mushrooms (sauteed first), and even carrots. No more slimey rotten veggies going to the compost pile.
We no longer waste food (or money), and I have a supply of ready-to-go meals and ingredients for when I don't have time or don't feel like going to a lot of trouble to get a home-cooked meal on the table. We also save money by not being tempted to order take-out. Hard to justify that when there is easy, healthy food ready to re-heat.
By Carol from TX
When you freeze leftovers, keep a notepad by the freezer and write down what you have got in there. When you have a "don't know what to cook" moment, you will have inspiration.
The main thing that I have done for my freezers is go to an office store or dollar store and get paper holders. Then I put each filled with separated plastic bags; hamburger, chicken, pork chops, etc. I have done this for many years.
We hang a cork board by the freezer to organize the meat in our freezer. List each type of meat along one side of the board, such as Beef, Chicken, Pork. Under these categories we list such as chicken, boneless breasts leg quarters and ground.
When your bags of frozen foods start getting really tiny, they tend to get crumpled and lost in your freezer, leading to food waste and stale freezer odors. Use binder clips to hang your bags of frozen foods on the rack shelf. Just fold up the bags and clip on the rack from the top.
I use small meal size containers for berries to go with pancakes or deserts. The first trick is to turn over every second container, so that it's lid rim is down. I get one extra container per row that way.
One great tip I've found very useful is to make a list of what I put in my freezer and place it on the front of my refrigerator with a magnet.
I saw this tip on Thrifty Fun last year and it has really been a big help for me in keeping the food in my chest type freezer separated and organized. I purchased several cloth bags from the grocery store and use them for stacking the vegetables and fruits.
I had a freezer with out the shelf inside. The food, all in different sizes and shapes, would pile up and slide everywhere. I put water in four bottles, found an old soda crate, and put it inside.
I've used shoe boxes and small basins, three on each shelf, to divide my freezer. This still leaves room above the boxes to slide in frozen dishes and pizza. Ice cream and miscellaneous fit in front.
I always try to have frozen veggies on hand, and often use less than a full bag at a time. To keep from losing these partial bags, I keep a plastic crate in the freezer.
Here are some great food tips for saving money on food by packaging and freezing it:
I got really tired of trying to find things in my freezer. I went to Big Lots and bought some plastic boxes. I stood my bags of meat on end like a file drawer.
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Ideas for organizing an upright freezer. Post your ideas.
It can be challenging to use all the space in an upright freezer. I use inexpensive rectangular plastic dishpans as bins in order to get more on each shelf. I label the dishpans vegetables, meats, etc. This also works well in refrigerator freezers. When I am looking for something, I can pull out the entire container and go through it without having bunches of frozen foods falling out and bouncing off my toes.
I use the shelf helpers and this allows me to more shelf space.
The chest freezers are sold with grilled open bins. They allow the cold air to move in and around and under the stored foods. In the frig the grills are mainly negative space , again for the same reason. In an upright the shelves are grilled. Its best to use baskets with a lot of spaces rather than dish pans or pasteboard boxes. It will cost you less to run the machine, its easier on it. My Dad was in refrigeration business.
To eliminate second guessing on how old food is in the freezer, just write with permanent marker on the bag or use a label and the date and year when you bought it, then when you buy new items put the old ones in the front and the new stuff in the back. This way you won't forget about those items and they will be used up and not forgotten. I do this in my pantry also.
I purchased plastic bins at the dollar store for keeping in different types of food (one for chicken, another for beef, and a third for "other"...since that is all that will fit on one shelf). I have a different shelf for different foods, which sometimes overlap a bit. (top for meats, second for veggies, third for fruits and desserts, and bottom for breads)
A variation is to use shaker-style (or other sturdy weave and design) baskets - I put fruit in these, and it adds a quaint, eye-pleasing touch to the inside of the fridge.
I find the best way to organize my upright freezer is using seal a meal and line them up like a bookshelf when it comes to leftovers. Labeling them on the side makes it easy to read.. Just one shelf for leftovers , one shelf for older items and one shelf for newer bought items.. Works for me but then there are only 2 of us..
I need ideas for organizing the narrow freezer space in a side-by-side fridge. Is there anywhere that I can get wire baskets or whatever to fit on my freezer shelves, to possibly create drawers or? My freezer shelves are 9 x 17. I have one pull-out shelf that sits 15 inches under a stationary shelf. It is very hard to utilize this space because it is so high and stacked foods come flying out in the front or in the back when I'm trying to get to stuff. It seems that some kind of bucket/basket to contain the items would at least allow me to pull it forward to get into it. I have a Whirlpool 21.8 cu ft side-by-side. I haven't found any Whirlpool freezer baskets/bins that I can buy.
Ikea. Container Store.
Yes I have nice baskets for my freezer. I got most of mine at the Container Store where they have 2 sizes. I also found that Wal-Mart carries in 1 size. You could first look at their websites. They really make it nice tho to organize frozen foods and you can slide in and out. Now everything is much neater and easy to get at.
Is there a certain way to stack food in your upright freezer? For example, should I put meat on top shelf, ice cream on second shelf, etc.?
By Pat M.
Gosh, I have never heard of a specific recommendation; and will watch to see if others do have one. That said, I like to keep meats together, fruits, vegetables, prepared foods, and the like. I prefer it that way because it makes it easier to keep track of what is in there. As to which particular shelf gets what, for me it has more to do with available space. Because prepared foods tend to come in boxes, they take more space; Bagged and boxed vegetables fit in my door shelves. I use topless cardboard boxes and unused dishpans as 'drawers" for smaller items.
What is really important to me is to make the items easy to find so I can minimize the amount of time my door is open, as my freezer is not frostless! Using boxes and bins let me pull out the bin and close the door while I find what I am looking for.
Always put meat on the very bottom. That way, nothing drips on to anything. I like using the plastic drawer units you can get anywhere. I put bagged veggies and fruit in them, as they are hard to keep their shape. Shredded cheese works good in them, too, and you can label the drawers. Plastic see thru' shoe boxes from the dollar stores work well, too, as they can be stacked.
Also, these items keep the freezer burn problem way down!
Compartmentalizing is the key. I hope this helps!
Here are some food freezing tips. Post your ideas below!
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The Freezer door: This is the warmest part of the freezer. I use it to store hot dogs, vegetables, butter, juices and the half-gallon milk jugs filled with water for picnic coolers.
Shelves: I used 3 plastic "bins" to sort my meat (purchased in bulk and shrink vac'd). One bin each for chicken, beef and pork. At a glance I can see if I need to purchase more ground beef, pork loin or bacon when is is on sale. Meat is portioned out into meal size servings and wrapped for proper storage.
When wrapping meat, be sure and label with an indelible pen (on the seam or on a label) the date. Use the oldest first.
I purchase items when they are on sale and when I have a coupon. I keep stocked up on frozen meals for "brown bag" lunches - much cheaper and healthier than fast food at work. I ALWAYS purchase butter when it is on sale, sometimes 10 pounds at a time. This especially comes in handy for holiday baking!
For more freezer advice:
By Diana from Prospect, KY
I make prepared meals and they're all stacked alternating types of dishes in the front right hand corner, I vacuum seal everything so I don't worry about things going bad, I have food which is up to but if not more than 5 years old and is still good as long as the seal is not broken.
Now I do organize my refrigerator with baskets, hot sauce in 1, jellies and jams in another, mustard, Mayonnaise, Ketchup, pickle relish and salad dressings in another, I have several baskets with fresh fruits or vegetables and I keep my rice, popcorn and pasta in the refrigerator also and they have their own basket. There is a catch all basket for the little odd things. (07/09/2008)
How do you organize a refrigerator freezer in a way that you can find what you want or even find what you have?
I also pull everything out every few months to ensure something didn't fall too far to the back and get forgotten. (07/17/2005)
If I add items to the freezer, the items are handwritten on the list as well. (07/20/2005)
We have an upright newer freezer that has several large slide out baskets. This new freezer is much more economical than our old freezer of 33 years!
We have several purchased baskets; I bought a larger wire basket from Wal-Mart and several of the plastic Square (milk carton type) containers & DH cut the top down a bit ... these will slide out easily. I also made tags and heat laminated them ... Beef, Chicken, Pork, Seafood and Miscellaneous and (punched holes) in the tags and attached to the baskets with zip ties.
Several baskets are easy to take out of the freezer and rearrange by dates ... we do have a tendency of adding new items quickly and not pay attention to the old versus new meats on top!
The top shelf is sort of a hodge podge fruits and stocks and a few tomatoes that we put into plastic containers that we have frozen. A Loaf of bread or a pizza.
The door is for vegetables, margarine/butter, juice, some meats like sausage, bacon, hot dogs, etc.
If you see signs on the baskets, this automatically organizes you. For us, this seems to work very well. Good Luck. (07/27/2005)