I spent the afternoon recently cleaning out, straightening up, reorganizing two freezers. It would have taken much longer, had I not had some basic organization in place already. After the initial organizing a couple of years ago, I’ve made a couple of small changes to get where they are now. It has worked well for quite a while now. Well, except for all that 2 year old okra in the bottom that is now destined for the compost pile.
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What precipitated the need to do all this, you ask? Well, two reasons…first, one of the freezers was leaking, and we couldn’t tell which one because they were sitting next to each other. We found that the drain tube in the upright was frozen, so it wouldn’t drain and water was dripping out the front corner by the door. Hubby remedied that situation. Secondly, there is no reason for us to spend so much money on groceries when we have plenty of food here.
We have both an upright freezer and a chest freezer in our kitchen. I love them both, but I sure couldn’t pick a favorite. The upright is a wonderful space saver and easy to clean. The chest freezer seems to hold more and stays colder. I covered the top of it with a wood grain contact paper so I could it use for extra counter space. But cleaning the bottom of the inside is a bear for this old gal. I finally had to resort to tongs to hold a wet dishcloth to get most of the spills off the bottom, but I was still almost standing on my head.
When we had a pig butchered and bought a 1/4 cow a couple of years ago, I kept the meat in the chest freezer, and the upright freezer held mostly garden vegetables. That worked really well, but as the bulk meat supply dwindled, and our eating and shopping habits changed, I switched the meat over to the upright freezer.
Chest Freezer Organization
I may have to move a basket or sometimes two, but I can still easily find what I need, because I know exactly where everything is located. Plus I have a little diagram protected in a plastic sandwich bag that stays inside the freezer. The shapes at the bottom of the map are the tote bags that I have collected, that were all super cheap or free.
I wrote this post a couple of months ago, but the pictures were from a couple of days ago. Since the majority of the contents of the bottom two layers are/were homegrown produce, we have used quite a bit since the original writing.
Most everything in this freezer is in zip close freezer bags.
I could only fit 2 storage crates on the bottom of my chest freezer, with 2 tote bags along the front.
- One crate holds both corn (off the cob) and my spaghetti sauce.
- The other crate holds Jalapeno Peppers and Pablano Peppers.
- The black tote bag holds flat bags of pumpkin puree I made in the slow cooker.
- The green bag holds miscellaneous packages of fruit and nuts.
- The whole bell peppers on the left are actually on top of the motor and considered the middle layer.
- A crate is stacked on top of the crate of hot peppers, that is designated for bags of tomatoes, green beans and yellow beans.
- The sliding baskets on the top won’t fit over two stacked crates, so I have another shorter plastic basket that sits on top of the crate of spaghetti sauce and corn. It also holds spaghetti sauce and corn. If I had only put one kind of food in the bottom crate, I’d have to move more items to retrieve food from it. I was in a hurry taking pictures, but I need to move that big bag of vegetables over to the tomato and bean crate, then move the spaghetti sauce up to make it more easily accessible.
- On the shelf over the motor on the left side, I found a box that fit well and it holds bell peppers which I have either diced or cut into strips. I have the bags of whole bell peppers sitting in front of the box. This post is about how I prepare peppers for the freezer. The blue tote bag sits on top of the pumpkin bag. It holds bread items, such as Italian or French Bread, baguettes, sub-sandwich rolls and tortillas. All are double-bagged with saved bread bags.
- One blue sliding basket holds bags of zucchini and squashes that are sliced, shredded or halved, plus extra small bags of vegetables
- The other blue sliding basket has a good variety of small bags of frozen vegetables.
- On top of the beans and tomato crate, I have a tray that is actually a kitty-litter tray from the dollar store that perfectly holds double bagged loaves of bread, hotdog buns and hamburger buns. There are also a couple of half-loaves of bread that will be used for french toast, stuffing or turning into bread crumbs. I have a thing against sliced bread that’s not nice and soft, so when it starts drying out, it goes in the freezer.
The freezer map lays on top of the zucchini basket, front and center.
Upright Freezer Organization
The upright freezer was easy to organize, once I figured out the right size boxes. We use our Foodsaver to bag and seal most of the meat. That makes a world of difference in the meat not getting freezer burnt, so it stays fresh longer.
If we have a lot of any one thing, like hamburger, we follow the first in, first out rule.
- The first box holds “ready to cook” entrees or casseroles, plus flat bags or containers of soups and chili.
- The second holds flat freezer bags of baked beans, my refried beans and cooked beans for recipes calling for canned beans.
- The last box is both white rice and brown rice, plus leftover pasta to throw in to soups, etc, and bread crumbs.
I stand the bags upright in the 2nd and 3rd boxes to easily see what is in the boxes.
- The hamburger box holds flat 1# bags of both cooked and raw hamburger, plus a couple of bags of two uncooked hamburger patties. This post is on how I divide and prepare #10 of ground beef. I love how the bags stand up in the boxes.
- The next box is for all other beef cuts.
- The last box is used for extra beef, other meats or foods.
- All fish and seafood are kept in the first box.
- Chicken in the 2nd box.
- Pork in the last box.
- The basket has plastic mayonnaise jars with milk that I wrote about in this post on avoiding food waste.
- The box has containers of homemade broths and stocks. When I made my French Dip Sandwiches there was almost 4 cups left of the delicious Au Jus sauce left in the bottom of the slow cooker…you can bet I saved that sauce to use on a future slow cooker roast or stew meal.
Freezer Door Organization
When we get part way through a large bottle of juice and I know we aren’t going to finish it before it goes bad, I’ll pour the rest into small soda bottles and freeze.
I keep breakfast meats on this shelf. Sausage patties are easy to seperate in the big box, but when we cut up diced ham or slices they are divided and packaged to serve two in sandwich bags, then several of those are put in quart freezer bags. If we buy a huge package of bacon, Hubby will divide it into Food Saver bags. The regular size packages of bacon are either cooked up at once for three breakfasts, or two breakfasts and a coupleof BLT’s.
Hotdogs, smoked sausages, etc.
Liver, ham bones and beef soup bones.
Containers of mint “juice” for the next time I make mint jelly.
I did take a simple count of what was in both freezers, but I decided not to do a full-scale inventory record. Everything is divided into categories and I can tell at a glance when I need to replenish anything. I am also more inclined to come up with some new meal ideas, to use up something that is in abundance in the freezer.
I hope this post gives you some good ideas on organizing your freezer.