Organizing Your Freezer

I’d like to welcome Brenda from Meal Planning Magic to the blog today. Brenda loves to teach others all about menu planning and has a fantastic menu planning resources section on her blog that you don’t want to miss.  Today though Brenda is joining us here to help us organize our freezers.  Welcome Brenda!

When I began my meal planning journey several years ago I didn’t give much thought to how things were going to be figured out.  I just knew I’d need to have a system of some kind that worked for me.  Freezer cooking was one of the first things I took to right away—with a toddler at home I needed a way to get healthy meals on the table quickly.  Since then, “feeding” my freezer has become a way of life.  Here are the top five things that help me keep it organized:

What can you freeze?

I get this question a lot.  The answer is “just about everything!”  People are surprised to learn that I shred and freeze my own block cheese, cut up fruit, and of course prepared meals ready to pull out, heat and serve.  It is recommended that items remain in the freezer no more than three months, on average, to avoid quality issues.

Choose the right containers.

To make the most of your freezer space, choose containers that work for you.  For some that may mean plastic modular containers.  Others like using zip-top bags stacked on end like in a bookshelf.  Other items can be frozen in dishes that can go straight into the oven.  Personal preference makes a difference too.  I like to store liquids like soups in modular containers—they are easier for me to heat and serve.

Label it.

I’m sure I’m not the only one to throw something in the freezer and think, “I’ll remember what that is” only to discover months later that that I did not remember!  I personally love the reusable labels from Label Once.   They adhere to a lid and will not come off in the freezer or dishwasher.  When it’s time to reuse your container, just erase the contents and date and write on the new information.

Log it.

Now that your items are labeled, you’ll want to log what goes into the freezer (saving energy with fewer door openings to see what’s in there).  I created a form that helps me find what I’m looking for more easily.  It has four categories: Prepared Meals, Fruits & Vegetables, Dairy/Nuts/Bread/Other and Meats/Fish. Don’t forget to date it too!  When it comes time for meal planning, just grab your list and scan it to find out what you have on hand and choose your recipe accordingly.

Map it.

We have a medium chest-style deep freezer.  In it I have some plastic crates to help me organize it into compartments.  I’ve divided the freezer into “zones” that correlate to my log sheet. For example, the upper right crate holds fruits and veggies like the blueberries we pick every summer or sliced bell peppers that I got on sale.  To help others find things in the freezer, I came up with a diagram taped to the top of the freezer that shows the crates and what is contained in each.

It’s easy to get organized in the kitchen when you have a few tricks up your sleeve!

Brenda is a mom, freelance writer and self-taught meal planner.  Her blog, Meal Planning Magic, provides ideas on how to get organized in the kitchen, save a little money, eat healthier (and family friendly) and have a little fun along the way.  She shares free weekly sample meal plans, cookbook reviews, forms for keeping it all straight, ideas, and inspiration!

Filed under: Guest Bloggers, Kitchen

Comments

30 Responses to Organizing Your Freezer

  1. 1
    Linn says

    Fabulous ideas and such a useful post. Thanks so much for sharing!

  2. 2
    Tina says

    Great ideas! I recently pulled out a frozen Ziploc of something, not sure what it was, I was sure after I heated & tasted it, I would remember. I actually didn’t, but I figured I had made it recently & if it was good enough to freeze, than it must be delicious! Thankfully it was.

  3. 3
    Meal Plan Mom (Brenda) says

    Thanks, Laura, for the opportunity to be a guest poster! I am glad to share my tips and hope it’s helpful to your readers!

  4. 4
    kimatsprig says

    OO, nice. Tons of great tips. Do you have issues with frozen dairy at all? I have not tried grated cheeses, but have tried freezing cream cheese in the past with not happy results…

    O, and just an FYI: for those of you with iTouch or iPhones, there is a great app out there for help in tracking what you have in your freezer (and where). It practically pays for itself in terms of helping me avoid buying things twice or wasting food. Called WhatsInMyFreezer, I think?

    • 4.1
      Meal Plan Mom (Brenda) says

      Yes, some dairy does not freeze well. Cream cheese is one of those not included in the “most everything” :-) It will become watery and yucky. Most soft cheeses do not freeze well…they would be ok to eat but quality and texture can change. But I have had luck freezer semi-soft cheeses like feta. In the Resource section on my blog, there is a freezer guide..tells you what kinds of things you can freeze and for how long.

  5. 6
    Katie says

    I love the log and MAP! genius. Especially with this season on us where we are putting up all sorts of yummy food. I need to remember everything that’s in there!

  6. 7
    Laci says

    Thanks for the fun post. I really enjoy the blog called Freeze Happy She posts wonderful new freezer-friendly recipes each week with great make-ahead/menu planning implications.

  7. 8
    More Than A Mom says

    I love the map idea. I always have to dig in my chest freezer to find out just what is down there at the bottom!

  8. 9
    Anna says

    I love the crate idea! I need to get a deep freeze but was dreading having to dig to the bottom to get what I need out. That is a great solution. I’m going to make my freezer inventory list now. Thanks so much!

  9. 10
    Meal Plan Mom (Brenda) says

    Glad you all like the map and crate idea! I have to say the map helps ME figure out where things are or belong but don’t always work for the rest of my family (i.e. “where are the blueberries?” “check the map!”) but one can hope that some of it will sink at some point! :-)

  10. 11
    Christa says

    I love the idea of the labels. I’m glad you linked us to the site that sells them. I’m going to have to buy some!

  11. 12
    Colleen P. says

    I have one of those chest freezers too, and it was given to us by someone that didn’t want it! Can you believe it? Anyhoo, I hate to admit this in front of everyone but I use these really neat plastic buckets with handles and lids…erm…the ones that used to contain…

    cat litter.

    I know, I know, but it isn’t like the cat litter was USED before I used the bucket it came in, and I do wash it out, and I have a vacuum sealer that I put the food in before I freeze it! It’s just that, well, the buckets are just the right size to stack one on top of the other, and I can get 9 of them in my freezer! PLUS, it helps hold flat things like frozen pizza and such upright in between the buckets. Really, they don’t even sell anything that works so well!

    I really do need reusable labels though, because the bucket contents can become a mystery!

    • 12.1
      keli says

      Ok, I’m interested… LOL! Cat litter tubs. Like 40 lb? Or what size?! LOL I need help with organizing my freezer and I’m ready to try anything!!!

      • Colleen P. says

        LOL-yes, in fact it is the 40 pound size, but they’re getting difficult to find. Fresh Step has started using a big difficult to carry slippery plastic bag, but many store brands still come in buckets.

        • keli says

          Wow. That would be…interesting. I could remove the shelves and use them. Looks like I have another job for tonight!! We get our cat litter at Sam’s Club and they have the 40 lb buckets. I have noticed Fresh Step is using the plastic bag and Tidy Cats has a box. We do use Sam’s Clubs brand. Thanks!!!

  12. 13
    Rebecca says

    Hiya – this really has nothing to do with organizing a freezer, but it *is* an organizing question!! Do you have any tips on organizing/storing medicine? I know not to keep it in the bathroom, and right now we have a tupperware bowl that sits on the counter top with all the bottles. I’d like something more practical, or at least something that I can hide all the bottles!

    • 13.1
      Doro says

      Not sure if you still need a solution for your medicine storage problem, but I bought one of those lidded cardboard boxes from Ikea (they come in different sizes and colors and they even have a label on the front so you know what’s inside). All the medicine boxes stack neatly by themselves and I added a smaller container for tubes and bottles. It sits on a shelf with other boxes of the same kind containing photos, candles and such and it looks really organized and pretty. Hope this helps!

      Doro

  13. 14
    sarah says

    Hello, I’ve really enjoyed reading your advice here. I thought my readers might like it, too, so I mentioned you in my weekly links round-up. Thanks for the inspiration.

  14. 15
    Alison @ Hospitality Haven says

    Labelling is always a great idea!! There’s nothing I hate more than a “mystery” dish hidden in our freezer. :)

  15. 16
    Michelle says

    what a great post! Freezer organization is a thing I can definitely improve on—very helpful, thanks!

  16. 17
    Paula says

    Wow! Great ideas! My freezer is a disaster at the moment and I have no idea what’s in there.

  17. 18
    Elisabeth says

    I’m cleaning my freezers today and decided to look online for some tips. I like the idea of taking inventory with different categories. That’s an idea I hadn’t seen elsewhere.

    Thanks,
    Elisabeth

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