Chest freezers offer a lot of space for cold storage, but they also can become a blistering frozen tundra to get lost in. You don’t have to wander on your own. Here we explore how to maximize freezer space with some organizational tools, strategies, and best practices that also support freezer maintenance.
If you want your freezer to be manageable and stay that way, you have to go into this with a plan.
Discard expired food. Before you organize, clear out the old packages that are simply taking up space. If you’re seeing a lot of freezer-burned items, consider these freezer burn prevention tips.
Arrange food in categories. Grouping like foods will help you remember where to find specific items. Some ideas for categories are meats, veggies, potatoes and starches, fruits, dairy, and frozen meals.
Stack bins. A systematic way to organize your freezer is with stackable bins. You can organize your food groups into their own bins.
Organize food by when you plan to eat it. To minimize waste, you can employ a “first-in-first-out” system. To accomplish this, arrange all the new food at the bottom of the freezer, giving yourself easy access to foods that should be used sooner. You may also find it convenient to place foods that you eat regularly closer to the top.
Freeze vertically. It can be hard to navigate the deeper sections of a chest freezer. If you have narrow and flat items like pizza boxes, stand them up vertically so it’s easier to see what you have and pick something out without digging for it.
Label everything. Label the bins, containers, and bags so you never forget what you put in the freezer. On your labels, include the “use by” dates and/or the “frozen on” dates to make your life easier and waste less food.
Keep an inventory. Speaking of making your life easier, keeping a running inventory of what’s in your freezer is a game changer. Whether you decide to use a whiteboard, sheet of paper, or note on your phone, you can keep track of the item, quantity, and location in the freezer. There are even smart appliances that do this for you.
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Setting up your organization system will help you maintain control of your freezer, and there are additional practices that can make the process smoother. Consider these tips to refine your system:
Alternative storage organizers. While you could buy nice, sturdy freezer storage bins, you don’t have to go the traditional route. Other container options that work great are dollar store bins, baskets from around your house, old milk crates, file organizers, cardboard boxes, or reusable bags.
Discard bulky packaging. By eliminating bulky cardboard boxes and putting items in clear zip bags or containers instead, you can cut down on wasted space and avoid losing items in the infinite void of the freezer.
Freeze in usable portions. When you freeze leftovers, consider how much you’ll need to thaw later. Pack in portions your family can use in a single sitting so you can pull out only as much as you need.
Freeze flat. Soups and broths can freeze flat in a plastic bag. After the bags are frozen, you can arrange them vertically or stack them in organized piles. Berries can be frozen flat too, but they should be spread out on a tray during the initial freezing, so they don’t get stuck together.
Limit air exposure. To minimize the chance of freezer burn, remove all the air from your plastic bags and fill your containers all the way. You can submerge the lower part of bags in a sink full of water to push all the air out before sealing, or you may consider getting a vacuum sealer.
Want to organize other nooks and crannies too, like your pantry? ShelfGenie installs fantastic glide-out shelving in cabinets and closets.
It’s exciting when you can finally get the chest freezer organized and no longer have to freeze your fingers off as you search for hidden packages. But there are a few things you should avoid in order to keep your freezer in good working order.
Avoid keeping the freezer at the wrong temperature. Your freezer operates best when set between 0 degrees and -13 degrees Fahrenheit. If your freezer won’t maintain the right temperature despite thermostat adjustments, check that the condenser coils at the back are not covered in dust. Dirty coils can damage your freezer.
Avoid overpacking the freezer. Although a full freezer can keep your food cold more efficiently, when you overfill your freezer, it restricts air circulation and strains the compressor. This may cause the appliance to burn out. To avoid needing premature freezer repair service, keep your freezer stocked at around 85 percent of its capacity and make sure there’s space around your frozen items for cold air to flow through.
Avoid blocking the vents. Another common mistake is blocking your freezer’s air vents. When this happens, the temperature fluctuates and can cause your freezer to overwork itself to try to regulate the temperature. The best practice is to leave a few inches clear around the vent to allow proper airflow.
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