If you have a chest freezer in your basement that is a food abyss, a giant mouth you keep feeding, but never actually pull anything out of, then this post is for you!
When you stock up on groceries, rather than a standard weekly shop, it is particularly important to stay organized. Before I organized my freezer, I would keep buying and buying anytime I saw a good deal. When it was eventually time to pull everything out to defrost the freezer, or more likely, to find something specific I just knew was buried in there, I would discover that I had 20 bars of frozen mozzarella cheese, but no more butter. This is not the way to wisely spend your grocery budget.
I kept putting off organizing because I thought I needed the perfect set of containers that were going to somehow bring organization to the chaos that was my freezer. A thrift store find combined with the inability to make a birthday cake because we were out of butter finally made me decide to just figure it out!
The thrift store find was two new freezer baskets. They were $2 for two baskets, and I wasn't sure if they would fit, but bought them anyhow. By a stroke of luck, they just fit. In the picture at the top you can see that I now have 4 hanging baskets in my freezer. Those extra hanging baskets make a big difference and if you can find some, you should pick them up! But as I said, don't wait for the perfect storage containers. The other main tool in my freezer organization was a few cardboard boxes, and a little time and thought.
TIP: Regular plastic bins can crack easily at freezer temperatures. I did waste some money on dollar store bins that shattered. Cardboard works better and is usually cheaper.
Advantages to having an organized freezer:
- You can find what you are looking for (and so can other people)
- You know when you are running out of something
- Less food will be wasted because you won't forget about it, or loose it
- Easier meal planning because you can see what you have
- Easier to defrost or clean the freezer- boxes pull out easily
I emptied everything out of my freezer, getting rid of anything that was clearly not going to be edible anymore because it had been buried too long.
I then thought about organization, and discovered I could fit three cardboard boxes in my freezer, and still fit the hanging baskets back in. That left me with four baskets on top, three big sections on the bottom, and two small sections on the bottom, created by the space around the boxes. That gave me nine storage areas in my freezer.
I put everything into piles, putting like with like. After a little rearranging to make piles that were the right size for the containers, and to make a system that makes sense for my family, we ended up with nine piles for our nine spaces:
- Butter and Cheese and Prepared food
- Ground Beef and Bacon
- Beef (roasts, everything else beefy, except the ground beef)
- Pork (except the bacon!)
- Fish and Seafood
Beside that is a box full of pork.
Next to that is a box full of beef. Behind the box of beef is a space for poultry and to the right of that box is space for fish and seafood.
If you look again at my first picture (or again, in small, to the left), you will see that I then have my four baskets on top. In the basket on the left I have cheese and butter and any prepared food. Right now, I think there is a tray of homemade scalloped potatoes in there, and some zucchini bread made from garden zucchini.
In the second basket, there is ground beef and bacon. We are running low on ground beef, but have just put in an order with our favourite farmer, to be picked up on Mother's day.
The third basket is full of frozen fruit. Right now it is mostly store bought, but I can see the rhubarb coming up in my garden, and I am looking forward to stocking it with homemade this spring and summer.
The fourth basket contains frozen vegetables, including some tomatoes from our garden. We got a pressure canner for Christmas and we are looking forward to canning tomatoes this year, giving us more room for other veggies in the freezer.
If you are looking at your freezer with despair, may I suggest you find a little time and just organize it. Knowing where to find the butter and the peas has made a huge difference. Not only can I find what I am looking for and see when I am running out of something, but I can send my husband down to get a package of raspberries and he will be able to find them!
For more kitchen tips and tricks, please go to Kitchen Tip Tuesdays at Tammy's Recipes.