When all things tend towards chaos, the freezer is no exception. Here are tips on how to organize your freezer and the best accessories to help you stay organized.
Moving into our new freezer
As we prepared for our move into a rental cottage, we tried to use up as much of our freezer food as possible. While our fridge stays fairly organized, our freezer storage stresses me out!
I think because the goal is always to open and close it as fast as possible to avoid leaking any cold out, we tend to just stuff foods back in without much thought as to where we are tossing them.
Despite our best efforts, here was our old fridge on moving week:
See that red lid container on the right? That was Birch’s leftover birthday cake from October. We all enjoyed it the night before we moved!
Drawer vs. Side by side
The fridge at our cottage is a side by side French door fridge and freezer, and we are kind of liking it! I prefer a “two doors on the top / freezer drawer on the bottom” overall because I think the width is invaluable at times for storing fridge food (like make-ahead meatballs), however, we really like the side-by-side freezer . It’s easier to see without bending over.
Organizing your freezer can help you maximize its benefits, make sure you’re using food up before it’s past its prime, and help you meal plan and meal prep more effectively.
If you are someone with a very messy freezer (or maybe you have a second one in your basement or garage) you will benefit from a freezer declutter and getting some organization tools!
Whether you have a bottom freezer, top freezer, chest, or a side by side, here are practical tips and organizing ideas to help you keep your freezer(s) tidy all the time.
How To Organize Your Freezer
Keep an inventory
Keeping an inventory list is a great way to take note of what’s in the freezer without having to blast your face with cold air! You can make your own or download a printable one like this one from Etsy.
Include the date purchased, the use by date, possibly the date you opened the bag/box, and how many you have inside.
You’ll want the list to be easily accessible in the kitchen so you can cross things off as you use them. Consider storing under a magnet on the side of the fridge, in a nearby drawer, on a bulletin board, or on your phone or computer.
Organize items by expiration date
If you’ve heard of FIFO before as an accounting principle, that concept applies to freezers! FIRST IN, FIRST OUT. It means use your oldest food first! This is challenging to do in a freezer where you’re dumping food on top and burying the oldest stuff, so again, having an organizing system where you rotate through can really help with this.
You can use bins or bags to group like expiration dates with like, or use a vertical storage where you are moving left to right.
Ever peeked into a bag or container and had no clue what was inside? Haven’t we all! Obviously labels are the clear solution for this.
There are a bunch of different labeling options, from Sharpie on a disposable bag (less environmentally friendly!) to Scotch freezer tape to labels that dissolve off with water!
If you’re labeling prepared meals, you can include the ingredients and basic cooking instructions to help you remember how to cook or reheat.
Have food zones
When organizing your food, I like to group by category: breakfast (like waffles), smoothie ingredients or Daily Harvest smoothie cups, desserts (popsicles, ice cream), lunch foods (Daily Harvest bowls), dinner ingredients (frozen veggies, ground beef , chicken nuggets, or frozen pizzas), extras (like ice packs).
Freezer bins can help you sort by category. Our bottom freezer had a movable divider that helped keep the sections separate, and our new fridge has pull out drawers that are nice!
Labeling can help here, too, so your family members can tell what items are supposed to go where.
Put most-used items on the top or door
Do you know what is most used at our house? The ice cream! Second is likely smoothie making supplies like frozen bananas and berries.
When using a bottom freezer, we put the most-used supplies on the top where they are easiest to reach. If your freezer has a door, that’s the obvious place for them. And since these items are most used, they are probably also the most frequently replaced, so they won’t be as impacted by the constant opening of the door.
Just like when organizing a pantry, decanting can help you save space in your freezer. I can think of several products we buy on the regular that have an outer box but are still individually wrapped on the inside (salmon patties, No Bull burgers, frozen waffles). I will often take these out of the box to save some space. Just note that you’ll have to remember how to cook them and might want to label the expiration date on the outside.
I also always decant popsicles and ice cream sandwiches so you can more easily see the flavors of pops and know when you’re getting down to the last few – time to put on the list!
Freezer burn is the WORST, and air is frozen foods’ worst enemy. Be sure you’re resealing your packaging well to avoid the dreaded task of tossing out freezer-burned veggies. If you have the space for one, a vacuum sealer can help you get all the air out. Second best option – double wrap!
Needless to say, the fewer items you store in your freezer, the easier it will be to clean. Connect this back to the inventory list to help you remember to actually eat what you have inside! If you have too much extra space you can use ice packs to help your freezer keep in the cold.
Do a quarterly clean out
A regularly scheduled clean out is always a good idea too. Put any misplaced items back where they belong, and toss out anything expired.
If you’re feeling super on top of things, vacuum the crumbs from any bins or drawers and give them a wipe down. I am always amazed at how many crumbs (and hairs – gasp!) end up in the bottom of my freezer given that it’s only open for one minute at a time.
Freezer Organization Ideas
Bins are great for grouping bags of frozen fruit or loose, decanted popsicles. You can put all the kid food in one, all the breakfast items in one, etc.
The Container Store has a lot of great options like these baskets, including this vertical stacking one, but you can also use magazine holders or basic white bins like you’d find at the Dollar Store. Stackable bins are great for chest freezer organizing.
We LOOOOOOVE Stasher bags!!! Not only are they washable and reusable, but they are legit great at sealing and easy to open. The only downside is that they are expensive per bag, but they are something you will hopefully use and reuse for years. We use the big stashers for bagels and frozen bananas.
Tip: freeze berries on a sheet pan
If you’re freezing something fresh, like hand-picked strawberries in the early summer, you can freeze them on a sheet pan and then put them in a Stasher bag – this way they won’t stick together! Generally, the smaller the food, the more you’ll need to use this spreading out flash freezing method. Large banana halves don’t really need a separate freezing process to be plucked off one another for use.
Leave space to expand
Frozen foods expand, so if you’re using a glass container, jar, or popsicle mold, be sure to leave some space so you don’t create a goopy overflow. These are my favorite silicone popsicle molds that we use to freeze extra smoothies or make homemade pops. They are great because they won’t drip, there aren’t sticks to use, and they are dishwasher safe.