When you know how to use it, a deep freeze can really help you save money. Stock up on meat, vegetables and other foods when they’re cheap and then use them throughout the year. Or, do a serious meal prep one weekend and spend the rest of the month pulling out frozen foods to have for dinner. Except, when your deep freezer becomes a disorganized mess full of unlabeled or freezer burnt food, then it feels like it’s not useful at all. How you organize your deep freezer can really change it from a kind of useful appliance that isn’t really worth its cost in utilities into an incredible functional part of your home that is essential to your meal planning and scheduling. Here’s how to organize your deep freezer to make the most of it.
Smart Tips to Organize Your Freezer
First, a few basic tips will help you develop an action plan to better organize your freezer and also make more space within it.
- Use containers: It is easier to keep track of your freezer items when you have dedicated containers for various types of food. It’s also easy to pull things out of the deep freezer and get to the bottom when things are tucked into discrete containers instead of just piled up.
- De-box your stuff: Especially once you’ve used some of the food, the box takes up a lot of space. Taking things out of the box can help you fit dramatically more things in your deep freezer, but it also makes our next bullet point more important.
- Label things: When you put things into the freezer without a box, or in a bag or container of your own making, you should ensure that they are labeled, especially with the expiration date but potentially also with cooking instructions. This makes it much easier to clean out the freezer, which is essential to keep it organized.
- Freeze flat: If you freeze anything liquid or vegetables like peas in plastic bags, you can do yourself a big flavor by stacking them in the freezer so they are flat. This way, they form bricks and are easy to pull in and out or stack on top of one another.
- Other containers: Beyond using bins, you can use many other items to help store or freeze your items into convenient shapes. Use cookie sheets to help freeze things in large zipper storage bags. Use milk containers for frozen vegetables to make it easier to pour out small amounts.
- Zone storage: Create different zones in your deep freeze to make it easier to keep track of what you have in it. Dedicated different sections and bins to different kinds of foods, like meat, meal preps, sauces and more.
How to Put it In Practice?
When you’re starting with a messy freezer it can be really tough to put the above plan into action. So, we suggest that you start by emptying out your freezer space. Toss out food that you know you won’t eat or that has expired while in the freezer. While you can eat freezer burnt food, many people won’t. If you won’t, then toss it. Also consider whether you really will get around to some of the items you’re storing. Maybe you bought bulk shrimp on sale, but you’re actually not that big a fan of shrimp and you found it
wasn’t that great. The more items you can toss out that you won’t get to, the more room you’ll have for food you will actually eat.
Then, consider what you have left that you want to put in the freezer and what else you might add. Organize your containers based on your needs for your freezer, and start carefully labeling and putting things in. When you can, put thing that will expire first at the top of their container. This helps you eat those things first and keep those with further expiry dates for longer. To always keep food on a rotation like this, add in new things to the bottom of the freezer. It takes time but it makes your use of your frozen items much more efficient.
How to Keep Track of Freezer Contents
Another way to ensure you’re using the things in your freezer before their best buy date or earlier than things that will expire later, is to keep an inventory. You can use either a written inventory or an app. We think apps are more convenient, as they don’t require paper and you can more easily take them to the grocery store with you, but either can work.
Place your written inventory on the freezer itself so you can refer to it easily when adding things or crossing them off.
The best freezer inventory app we’ve found is NoWaste. It is made for your fridge and pantry as well and allows you to scan barcodes to automatically add in expiration dates, You can search and find food easily while at the grocery store so you know if you have something.
Avoid Freezer Burn
Avoiding freezer burn is an important way to make the most of your freezer storage efforts. Many people think avoiding burning is about what food goes where in a freezer. But placement has little to do with it. Avoiding freezer burn is about packaging food into the freezer correctly.
It is best for food to have multiple levels of protection. Wrap your food in wax paper or plastic wrap before placing it in the plastic zipper bag and then in the containers you’re using to keep the food organized. Freezer burn in the loss of moisture, and this should help prevent it.
Lastly, don’t have certain foods in the freezer for too long. Check out how long average things last below.
How Long Do Staple Products Last in the Freezer?
It can help your planning to know how long certain items will last in the freezer:
- Cooked meat: 3 months
- Beef: 12 months
- Pork: 6 months
- Poultry: 6 months
- Butter: 6 months
- Cheese: 6 months
- Baked goods: 3 months
- Nuts: 12 months
- Vegetables: 12 months
Now that you know, you can plan when you eat the items you’ve stored in your freezer.
We are UNITS East Bay and organizing and storage is our specialty. We provide on demand portable storage solutions all over the Bay Area. Keep us in mind for all your storage needs including portable storage in Alameda.