You bought an upright freezer to help you stock up on meat and other foods. Chances are, it’s a big help — especially if you have a big family. The trouble is that these large freezers are notorious for becoming horribly disorganized. Then, when you go to retrieve that roast or bag of chicken, you can’t find it! If you want to know right where everything is, organization is key. Here are some smart ways to keep that freezer neat and tidy.
1. Divide & Conquer
If you have a large freezer, you probably do a lot of bulk buying. To save yourself some hassle later, divide those large purchases in to family-meal-sized portions before freezing, and wrap them properly. Say you bought 5 pounds of ground beef: when you get it home, divide it into smaller portions of 1 pound each, and you won’t have to thaw the entire thing to add meat to your spaghetti sauce.
The same goes for large packages of other foods, like frozen veggies. Your family probably won’t eat the whole 3-pound bag in one meal, but you might eat one pound. If you divide that large bag into 3 smaller ones (clearly labeled, of course), you can easily grab what you need.
2. Labels Are Your Friend
Dividing bulk purchases into smaller portions makes this next step even more genius. Head to your local dollar store and buy some clear plastic bins — they’re about the size of shoe boxes. Label them clearly with whatever categories you see fit. You can simply say “meats” or divide it into types, such as pork, beef, chicken, etc. You can also color-code colored sticky labels or washi tape around the rim: red for meat, green for veggies, purple for fruit, orange for snacks, and so on.
3. Arrange Your Freezer
How you arrange your bins is up to you. Things you use most often might need to be located up front, but you also don’t want to forget what you have because it’s in the back. Every time you grab something out, it’s a good idea to move the rest of the items from that bin closer to the front, so you can rotate the oldest items to be used first. When planning meals, see what’s been in your freezer the longest and plan accordingly.
You might set up one shelf for red meat, another for poultry, one for fruits and veggies, and another for snacks.
4. Take Inventory
This step is more on-going. Before buying more freezer foods, take inventory of what you have and how much. If you’re keeping things organized, this should be a quick and easy task. You could even take your inventory sheet and hang it on the outside of the freezer door. Break your list into categories so it’s easy to read. When you take something out and use it, cross it off your list. If you keep your inventory up to date, you won’t even have to open the freezer to know what you have.