Quick Tips for Organizing the Deep Freezer

Tips for Organizing Your Freezer
Hi everyone, so a couple of weeks ago I snapped this quick iPhone picture of my disorganized deep chest freezer.

freezer organization before

I honestly couldn’t have told you what was sitting at the bottom of it.  These chest freezers are so absolutely ridiculous, I mean who came up with the concept for one big box to keep things cold?  Everything just gets thrown in and then buried.  I would love to have a stand up freezer but since this one is still working (after 20 years!), I don’t see that happening any time soon so for now I’ve got to make this one work.

Normally my chest freezer isn’t quite this full since I usually am only buying what I’m eating for the week and maybe stocking some really good deals that are too good to pass up.  However two things happened recently that have caused it to be filled to its limit.  One, my husband shot a deer in the fall (he’s a hunter) so there was quite a bit of meat added to the freezer that’s not normally there and two, we had one of our two grocery stores in town shut down recently.  This means I need to hoard stock up on groceries out of town because the one grocery store remaining can’t keep up with demand.  So my freezer is full which isn’t a big problem unless you have no idea what’s sitting at the bottom and lack the time or patience to go on a dig each time you want something.  There had to be a better way!  Here are some simple tips I used for organizing the deep freezer.

I started by taking everything out and then immediately took everything out of the grocery bags so I could properly see what I was dealing with.

I then sorted it all into categories.  For me what worked for categories was:

– meat
– frozen fruit
– deer meat
– sides
– treats

I then took inventory of everything I had using this free Freezer Inventory printable that you see below from the Mom on a Mission website. However this one is no longer available but here’s another one to help you. Now that I have it all documented I can easily see what I have without having to go out to the garage each time and dig through the freezer.  I really hate digging.

freezer inventory

Many of you commented about using reusable bags in your chest freezers which I thought was just brilliant so that is what I did.  Sorting like with like is essential in a freezer so you can keep better track of what you have in there.  Reusable bags helps keep your sorted stuff separated and available to pull out quickly as needed.  I like it.  One bag I use for the deer meat and the other for the frozen fruit I buy for my smoothies.  Nothing fancy but it gets the job done.

freezer organization
freezer organization 4

I used a crate I had lying around in the very bottom to containerize my breads.  We use three different types in this house and they were all scattered about willy nilly.  Now they all lie together.  I like to think they all get along when I’m not looking.  Keeping the breads together like this also means that when other family members go out to the freezer to get something they are less likely to just toss things about randomly. This is how things got so messed up in the first place, I’m just saying.

And no the frozen bread doesn’t get squished as the bags on top of the bread bin are slightly bigger and rest on the sides and well the bread is frozen 🙂

freezer organization 2

So let’s recap:

  • empty the freezer
  • take product out of plastic grocery bags
  • sort like with like
  • take inventory
  • containerize with bins or reusable bags

Freezer Organization Before and After

And chest freezers everywhere lived happily ever after.

The end.

Filed under: Before and After, Containerizing, Kitchen


50 Responses to Quick Tips for Organizing the Deep Freezer

  1. 1
    Theresa says

    I’m so glad we purchased an upright freezer (which has its own challenges… hello, tater tots on toes!). Do you think you could do an article about organizing an upright?

    • 1.1
      Laura says

      I’ll have to check with my contributors to see if any of them have an upright that would be willing to do a post for me since I don’t have one. Although for sure bins would be your best friend 🙂

    • 1.2
      Alex says

      Make the “containers” more like drawers with partitions?

      • Kristen says

        THANK YOU!

  2. 2
    Kate says

    I just did this a couple of weeks ago!! I wish I had thought to take pictures. I used paper grocery bags to organize some of the food, which seemed to work pretty well. I never thought about using milk crates to organize in the freezer – that’s brilliant! I think I have a few around the house somewhere; I think they may be repurposed soon! Thanks for the tip 🙂

    • 2.1
      Laura says

      Yes it’s funny what we can find around the house isn’t it. I had that milk crate in the garage not being used at all 🙂

  3. 3
    Rachel says

    I too have an upright and would be interested in container solutions – as ours is NOT frost free. I’m afraid plastic would freeze and break and get stuck in the ice that forms on the shelves. FYI there is a pantry app “Out of Milk” that allows you to inventory your freezer and pantry and whatever other category you have. It was the main reason I justified getting a smart phone because my paper lists were not working too well.

    • 3.1
      Laura says

      I can’t use the smart phone idea for my family as then I would be the one responsible for it’s use 🙂 I printed out my inventory for the fridge and now whoever gets something out of the freezer marks it off for me. It works well for us. My teens or my husband don’t have smart phones.

      • Rachel says

        Oh yeah, there are just the two of us and I have a white board and marker on the freezer (which is also near the pantry) for my husband to jot down when he uses something and then I update my phone later and erase it. My biggest problem is I get busy cooking and don’t always remember to “subtract” things as I use them -so it’s not perfect – user error – but I like it since I usually go by the grocery store on the way home from work – I can look and see if we already have something.

        • Laura says

          Yes that’s awesome for when you are out and about for sure!

        • Bex says

          I wonder if dry erase marker would come off if you wrote directly on the freezer?

          • Susie says

            It does; just use some vinegar if it leaves a smudge. We have been doing our shopping list (Or Chopin Liszt, as we have it labeled) on the front of our fridge with a white board marker for a few weeks now. 🙂

            • Allison says

              Ha! “Chopin Liszt.” May I steal that? 😀

    • 4.1
      Laura says

      Thanks Sarah!

  4. 6
    Emily @ Simple Life Of A Fire Wife says

    I love the idea of using bags to contain things! I have lots of crates in ours but sometimes are a pain to deal with lots of them and sometimes bigger than needed. The bags would be perfect! Thanks for the idea 🙂

  5. 7
    Chelsea says

    YES YES YES! Thank you! I think you were peeking into my house this week. I kept running downstairs to dig through the chest freezer, frustrated that it all falls over and I don’t know what’s in it. Brilliant idea to use reusable bags! We tried using plastic storage once, but the containers got too brittle and cracked. I happen to have a milk crate style box and reusable bags both. The printable you linked to will be so helpful and cut down on frustration. Perfect timing and a great post!

    • 7.1
      Laura says

      So glad it could help you, yay!!

  6. 8
    Kiki says

    Your husband shot a deer. Was that really necessary for your family’s survival? To kill an innocent deer? Maybe a mother deer. How would you like to be taken away from your children?

    • 8.1
      Laura says

      Yes my husband is a hunter and it’s very common where I live in northern Alberta.

    • 8.2
      Susie says

      Where I live in Northeast Wisconsin, it is very important for hunters to help keep the deer population down. Laura, I am so glad that your husband spared that poor deer from possibly starving to death; a much more torturous death than a quick bullet. And how lovely that he was able to provide food for your family at the same time as being humane!
      I love animals, and hate the thought of them dying a slow painful death when there is not enough food to go around.

      • Joy says

        Where we live hunting is also very common. We hunt and fish to help stock our local food pantry / shelter with meat. PEOPLE who are homeless and hungry get hot meals with lots of protein! The pantry never has enough donated meat, so when you have meat you don’t need consider donating to a shelter or food pantry! Some states prohibit wild game for public consumption, so check with the shelter/food pantry first.

  7. 10
    Terri says

    Never thought to use the reusable bags. Great idea! I too thought about getting an upright instead of our chest freezer. After looking into it I decided against it for 2 main reasons. 1. Chest Freezers do not lose all the cold air each time they are opened so the temperature doesn’t flucuate like an upright. 2. A chest freezer will stay frozen much much longer if you lose power for any length of time. Thought you might want this information before deciding to make the switch. Depending on your circumstances it may make the difference. I know it did with me and made dealing with the “black hole of what’s in the freezer?” easier to accept.

    • 10.1
      Laura says

      That’s good to know, thanks Terri!

  8. 11
    Cathy in NB says

    You just made me a very happy reader lol.. I had recently hoped you’d do a feature on organizing a deep freeze! No matter how hard I try to keep mine organized, it ends up a mess. I’ve been trying to think of an easy way to get things in and out, without it being an avalanche everytime i’m looking for something. Not to mention the build up of frost that is happening while I go “mining” with the lid open!! Like you, its essential for me to keep stocked up at home when grocery stores are either not handy, or in my case, not well stocked. I usually stock up on different meats when they are on sale, then I “shop the freezer” when I’m deciding what to cook. I also like to do alot of freezer cooking for quick meals.

    Using the shopping bags is pure genius!! now I will have to re-organize it again and maybe this time it will stay that way and I will actually get to start using all the mystery items that are buried down there!!

    Thank you for a great blog, i enjoy it very much.

    • 11.1
      Laura says

      Thanks so much Cathy!

  9. 12
    Jenny Lynn says

    Oh, it looks great! Wishing I had a deep freeze to organize.

  10. 13
    Robyn says

    Laura, thanks for the idea of the reuseable bags, never thought of that. We currently have 2 upright freezers and 2 chest freezers. I love my upright freezers (the chest freezers were “freebies”, so you use what you have!). To organize the upright freezers we use wire or plastic coated wire baskets and some plastic bins (the heavier ones work great and don’t break, even in the freezers that aren’t “frost-free”). Plus both of our upright freezers came with big wire baskets on the bottom, which is a great place to store your hamburger and other ground meat.

  11. 14
    Juls Owings says

    I hate my upright deep freezer, can’t get as much in it, have to leave room for the air to circulate, things don’t stack will slide and fall out when I open the door.Even with containers to corral the food, it still don’t work as nice as my chest freezer.

    I use paper sacks in my chest freezer and wire baskets. Plastic breaks when frigid, especially when Hubby dumps every thing on top and then slams the door shut.(He is no longer on freezer duty).

    Blessed be

  12. 15
    Tracy @ Using Time Wisely says

    Love it! We use boxes to separate pork and hamburger and frozen food items. Keeping everything in its box has not been an issue. I can also quickly see how many of each item we have to prevent overspending on more product when we already have 4 of them. 🙂 Great job organizing. Looks great!

  13. 16
    Andy says

    I have to say this tip is nothing short of brilliant! In 15 minutes our chest freezer went from a complete mess that we couldn’t find anything in to an organized freezer where everything is easy to locate. Thank you!

    • 16.1
      Laura says

      You are so welcome, so glad I could help!!

  14. 17
    Korilynn says

    We are about to buy one of these this week, so this is a great post. I want it organized. I grocery shop once a month and there’s nothing worse than realizing you had something in the back of the freezer the entire time.

  15. 18
    ColdCanuck says

    I tried & couldn’t get the print out working with Firefox. If you could, a jpeg version of the freezer list would be very welcome. Thank you!

  16. 19
    Susanne says

    What a great idea using reusable bags to keep like with like. Next cold blast we have in weather around here, I’m going to empty my freezer so that I can put things outside and keep frozen, then I’m going to give a the freezer and good defrost and clean and then repack like this. You’ve motivated me now to get to a job I’ve totally been avoiding for way too long.

  17. 20
    Tom says

    Thanks for sharing. The more the deep freezer is organized the more good food you can pack in which means saving time and money.

  18. 21
    Tara says

    I saw an organization blog recently that used small recycling bins with handles thay were stackable. Handles are a game changer at the bottom of a deep freezer!

  19. 22
    Toherangi says

    This is something I already do. When growing up I can’t remember how many times I saw my mother having to dig almost everything out of the massive chest freezer we had to find something. This is why I never wanted a chest freezer but as a matter of cost (an upright at the same price would have given me only half the capacity), I purchased one. As soon as it arrived, I measured the inside dimensions and found stackable crates to fit.
    I love the reusable bag idea too!

  20. 23
    Susie says

    Laura, as so many have said; thanks for the idea of the reusable bags; I’ve tried paper bags, boxes and plastic totes, none of which worked very well. The shopping bags are a wonderful idea! You have me actually looking forward to organizing my freezer tomorrow! 🙂

  21. 24
    Alnita Boldt says

    Great tips for organizing, especially the bags. The one drawback in organizing is that my freezer won’t get cleaned out as often. I do it to find out what I have.

  22. 25
    Jackie says

    Laura, thank you for sharing my free freezer inventory with your readers.
    I also have a chest freezer like yours. I like to have two inventories, one for my side by side and one for the chest freezer in our laundry room. I tend to store the stocked up items and items we have an abundance of in the chest. I like to store everyday use items, like frozen fruit, popcicles, snacks/desserts, weekly meats, etc. in the side by side. I also use clear plastic shoe boxes for storage. They fit nicely in the racks.
    Your freezer looks nicely packed!

  23. 26
    Kate @ Teaching What Is Good says

    I had read this back when you first wrote it and kept it in the back of my scattered brain!

    Today, I defrosted and emptied my chest freezer that hadn’t been done in MANY years, I’m ashamed to admit! I spent an hour using a crowbar to pry off the thick walls of ice!! But now it is cleared out and I will be using some of our smaller reusable bags to order things. I just froze 20 1# packages of ground chuck as well as 20 bags of corn processed from our summer bounty. In another 2 months I’ll be getting 120# of chicken breasts, cut and bagged for the winter. Having things organized and easy to find is a HUGE blessing for me!!

    Thanks so much for posting this help for us Organizationally Challenged Gals!! 😀 Blessings, sister!

    • 26.1
      Laura says

      That’s just awesome Kate!!

  24. 27
    Paulette says

    My husband paint the top of our old freezer with chalk paint. Now I can write on it where things are in the freezer.

  25. 28
    Valerie says

    My mom had a chest freezer for years and I loved it but it was a task to keep organized! My sister and I and our roommate are getting one soon (I hope!) and I can’t wait to use this info! Thank you! 🙂

  26. 29
    Cate says

    I thought I was the only one that used bags! I have a red one for meat a yellow one for chicken a green one for veg and a blue one for ice creams.

  27. 30
    Annie says

    I knew I could find someone with a brilliant idea/ideas on how to organize my chest freezer … which looks AS bad or worse than your “before” pic! 🙂 I found all sorts of surprises when I defrosted it this weekend, in anticipation of filling it with my husband’s productive elk hunt tonight! I’ve pledged to keep it organized this year … all of your ideas will help!

    Thanks again!!


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