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Simple Freezer Organization

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Stockpiling a decent freezer stash can really help save on the grocery bill, but having your freezer is disarray causes you to think you’re out of something when you’re not! Here’s a simple way to organize your freezer and determine food safety during an extended power outage.

simple-freezer-organization

Simple Freezer Organization

We have several large freezers and over the years, we’ve discovered that the best way to organize your freezer to avoid food spoilage and having items get lost in the shuffle is to separate them using clear storage tubs.

Using the totes makes this very easy to organize your food by date as well as type. Each type of item gets its own tote: chicken, pork, beef, ground turkey, halibut, frozen vegetables, cheese, etc.

Divvying the contents of the freezer into totes makes it very simple to see which items are running low and need replenishment without having to keep lists on the freezer. To get the most out of the space, freeze items flat (such as soups, pie fillings, etc) and then, once they are completely frozen stand them up in the individual tote tubs.

freezer organization budget household

How to Organize Your Freezer

We’ve found that labeling the totes helps keep them organized and deters family members from shoving items into containers where they don’t actually belong.

how to create freezer labels step one

I created these freezer labels based on the items that we use most. There are several different ways to use the labels. You could print them off, cut them out and then laminate them so they are washable with a warm, wet cloth.

laminate the label attach it with zip ties

I found that the lamination method works best if you’re attaching the labels to slide out metal drawers. The labels aren’t affected by the cold or moisture in the freezer and they last indefinitely.

soups stew freezer label attached to wire drawer with zip ties

Or, you can adhere them to the storage tote box using clear packing tape. The trick to any of these labels is to adhere them to a room temperature box. If you have unlabeled totes in your freezer already, don’t make the mistake of attempting to apply a label to a cold box, it doesn’t work.

tape label to container

Once you’ve labeled all of your totes, you should work quickly to transfer the frozen items in you freezer into them, to avoid minimal thawing! I also recommend wearing a decent pair of gloves.

clear plastic totes labeled for freezer use

Choosing Categories to Organize your Freezer

The categories you choose to organize your freezer is entirely up to you and is dependent on your family’s needs. We have hunters in our family, so we include a container for venison. I also like to make casseroles ahead of time by doubling or tripling recipes. I have a separate tote specifically for casseroles that are ready for the oven.

casserole dinners organized freezer

In addition to the casserole category, we also have a “Singe Serving” box. This works particularly well for leftover items, such as a single serving or two of meatloaf (perfect for a quickie meatloaf sandwich), a single piece of pie or cake, etc. These are items that our family has likely already had leftovers at least once and no longer in the mood for. They would end up in the trash otherwise.

By freezing them it creates a box of quick grab and go meals (or snacks) and reduces waste. When our boys were little, I would print menus on the printer and hold “restaurant” night, letting them choose a meal that was in the single serve box.

For example, there might be meatloaf, chicken cordon bleu, or chicken pot pie to choose from. The kids got to order what they wanted, all of the items were warmed in the oven, and all I had to do was serve a side salad to pull it all together. It was a fun way for them to “dine out” without spending a bunch of money actually dining out.

casseroles single servings labeled totes in organized freezer

I use the door of the freezer to organize dessert items, such as homemade slice & bake cookies. I rarely bake an entire batch of cookies at once, instead, I form the dough into a log, freeze it, then cut it into thirds, which equates to about 1 dozen large cookies per “log”. That way, the cookies are always hot and fresh from the oven (or air-fryer during the summer months!).

homemade cookie dough slice and bake

As I’ve mentioned in previous articles, I use my vacuum sealer, a lot. I prefer to make meal kits to save time. This includes ingredients for chowder, such as this seafood chowder kit containing haddock, scallops, clams, and shrimp.

homemade seafood chowder kit

I also use a category for breads, rolls, and biscuits. This is especially handy now that our kids are grown. We package items in groups of half dozen, whereas we frequently cooked a full dozen when they were home every meal.

rolls breads organized freezer

Follow FIFO

Having worked in a restaurant, we follow the FIFO rule, which is First In, First Out. Essentially what the means is- you use things up in the order that you purchase them. If you have frozen chicken in your freezer and you buy more, you place it BEHIND the chicken already there- so that the chicken you purchased first is used first. This way, you’re not ending up with freezer-burnt food that has lost quality and nutrients.

The containers used here were purchased at Lowes in the storage/organization department for about $2-3 each. Originally, I purchased the heavy-duty black plastic ones that are meant for garages because they dip in the front and make it easy to grab items quickly.

The other containers are clear plastic tubs that I purchased at Walmart for $2-3. They slide out easily and work great. You can fit 2-4 containers per shelf and still have room between them for loaves of bread, ice cream, etc.

For our family, this method is preferred over the “make a list of the freezer contents and cross it out as you go” method because it seems that I was the only person in the household to ever pay attention and cross things out! It also makes it simple to “eyeball” what items you’re running low on. The next time you grab a package of chicken or pork (etc) you can see quickly whether you have plenty or need to add it to the grocery list.

organized upright freezer butter pork venison

Food Safety due to Power Outage

We live in an area that is prone to severe storms, tornadoes, and the occasional hurricane as well. It’s not unusual for us to lose power one or more times per week. Since we have a tendency to travel, camp or otherwise spend time away from home doing other things, it’s imperative that we know how long the power has been out to ensure the food in our freezer is safe to eat.

The easiest way to do so is to fill a straight edged cup 3/4 of the way full and freeze it. Once it’s completely frozen, place a quarter on top. In the event of a power outage, the ice will start to melt. If you think there’s been an outage, simply check to see if the quarter is still on top (or the middle) of the ice, if it isn’t, that means the freezer dropped to an unsafe level and the food may not be safe to consume.

Quarter-IceQuarter on ice
To ensure this works, be sure to use a straight glass, if it has “shoulders” like the mason jars pictured below, the glass WILL break.

Dont Freeze Mason Jars

Free Printable Freezer Labels

If you like my homemade freezer labels, you may print them off for your own personal use.

Small labels– for the smaller totes  (6 or 6.5 quart)

Large Labels- for larger totes (16 quart)

If you’re unsure of which size totes are needed for your freezer, take a note of what model freezer you have in your house. The next time you visit your favorite Lowes, Menards, or Home Depot location, make a point to grab a couple of different size totes from the aisle, then go find your model in the appliance section.

I prefer this method because I’m more of a “hands-on” type of person who needs to see how something is going to look, rather than just trying to picture it in my head.

Of course, you could always just measure the inside of your freezer as well. Having a well organized freezer makes it easier for us to keep our grocery budget under $300 a month for our family, and take advantage of seasonal sales cycles.

Tried this freezer organization idea? Mention @Budget101com or tag #Budget101

Love these free printable Freezer Organization Labels? Pin it!

free printable freezer organization labels from budget101
How do you organize your freezer? We’d love to see your tips as well . . .

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52 thoughts on “Simple Freezer Organization”

  1. this is a great idea !! the lists don’t work for me either. i have always done the fifo method anyway.

    we are a family of eight now and are going to invest in a stand up freezer after the first of the year. i will go over this idea with my dd and i am sure that we will be going shopping for plastic containers soon. i think we may do something like this when we re-organize our big pantry also!

    thank you,
    monica

    Reply
  2. we use wire baskets in our freezer – the thicker kinds you can find at home improvement stores. the process is the same though – first in, first out.

    also, when i freeze soups or other items i will press it out flat in the zip top bag and freeze it on a sheet pan, that is resting on top of the baskets. once it is frozen, i will store it standing up, kind of like a file cabinet.
    hope this makes sense.

    bins or baskets – both definitely help in keeping the freezer organized!

    Reply
  3. we received our new freezer today and now i have to remove whats in the chest freezer. i have 6 shelves and going to separate the meats per shelf. 1 for premade meals/soups and the bottom one for soup makings, bones, veggie ends etc.

    Am so happy not to be digging to see what I have.
    I also make sauces and freeze them in ziplock bags flat so the stock, some soups are frozen flat as well.

    Reply
  4. any help for a chest freezer? i have a small freezer and use baskets but only a couple will fit with lots of extra space. guess i need a hint on how to stack the baskets and still be able to get to stuff without having to empty the freezer every time i need something.

    Reply
    • Any help for a chest freezer? I have a small freezer and use baskets but only a couple will fit with lots of extra space. Guess I need a hint on how to stack the baskets and still be able to get to stuff without having to empty the freezer every time I need something.

      Know this is an older post but hope this helps: I bough extra Grocery bags, the kind made of material, from the store and use these in our chest freezer.

      Makes finding thigs alot easier. Have hamburger in a couple, chicken in one and pork in another. Store cheese in a clear bin on the top.

      Reply
      • Know this is an older post but hope this helps: I bough extra Grocery bags, the kind made of material, from the store and use these in our chest freezer. Makes finding thigs alot easier. Have hamburger in a couple, chicken in one and pork in another.

        Store cheese in a clear bin on the top.

        Thank you for posting the chest freezer question and for the idea of the grocery bags. I was wandering the same thing. I wish we had an upright freezer, but the chest freezer is already bought and paid for.

        Reply
    • Any tips for those of us that are single and only have a freezer on the top of fridge? About 1/4 size of the unit. Thanks!

      Freeze things flat in quart size bags.

      then put them on the side of door or they will just stand up. Also flash freeze meatballs, burgers, single servings of things. When they are hard, put them in a gallon size bag and just pull out as many as you want.

      Stuffed shells prepare the pasta, stuff them, and then freeze them on a pan or dish. Once frozen put them in a bag. When you want to eat them pour some pasta sauce on the bottom of the pan put some in cover with a little more sauce and tinfoil.

      350 for 30-45 minutes. Voila. Things like that.:smile1:

      Reply
  5. i have 2 freezers. The chest freezer contains meat and I also use cloth bags. The upright is fruits and vegetables.

    Fruit goes on the top shelf. Vegetables are divided by type on the rest of the shelves. I do not use anything in that one.

    As long as I’m the only one in there things stay orderly.

    The small freezer on top of the unit is my ‘short term’ freezer. This is where stuff I will be using that week goes. My neighbors are all what we refer to as ‘hard core’ Amish so this is the one I allow them to place a gallon or two of ice cream in.

    I don’t want people in and out of my deep freeze. I gets me some free goodies as a thank you.

    Reply
  6. i will have to attack my freezer tomorrow! i just had an avalanche of frozen goods falling out of my freezer today… hopefully this will keep that from happening again 🙂

    Reply
  7. i actually haven’t had the need or space for a deep freezer, however, with my family size due to increase by three next spring, i will be purchasing one. i love this organization tip, using designated bins for particular items is a wonderfully smart, space saving idea! can’t wait to implement this one.

    :clock:

    Reply
  8. i use frozen whipped topping and other food containers (that food comes in anyway). the atack so good and it’s just enough for 2 meals for one grandma. I take one day after good sales at the grocery store and cook meals for the next 2 weeks and freeze them.

    Gives me more time for the important things-Grandson, pets, art garden, etc.:rodeo:

    Reply
  9. some great ideas! here’s another: i like to see what i am putting in the containers. i eat a lot of fruits and veggies and they come in those clear containers.

    they work great. for the really large clear salad containers? i put my shoes in those.
    🙂 these are excellent to put grains and flours in as well as nuts that you want to freeze.

    :tulip-icon:

    Reply
  10. i love the container idea for the freezer…was concerned it would take up to much space but it looks like you can still place items between the containers…..will be doing this as soon as i purchase the containers….also will be freezing items in large ziplocs so it will be flat….much easier to store….

    Reply
  11. well, i tried the storage containers in my freezer, and they didn’t fit…we bought a new freezer awhile back and the shelves aren’t as deep…use to have a bigger freezer but it was old and draining alot of electricity so we bought a energy efficient freezer….i sure miss the bigger one cause i was able to really stock up on meats and frozen goods…oh, well, guess i will just try to keep it organize the way i have…..certain items on different shelves….

    Reply
  12. read your article>>>went right out & tried it>>>love it!!!
    a few minutes and a few $ at walmart & i was all set…
    love the ease of the system…
    nice to find a site that can improve your lifestyle…
    thanks!!!

    Reply
  13. i have a pretty small freezer, so adding boxes and organizing stuff is almost impossible. i find that keeping everything in freezer zip bags is better for me. i keep a permanent marker magnetized to my freezer door, and every box i get i clip the cooking instructions and add to bag with the contents and date it.

    i always make the date huge, so that when i organize, i can pull stuff forward that needs to be used soon. i also use frozen milk cartons of water if my freezer gets low, so that the temp stays level.

    Reply
  14. i have been thinking that had to be a better way to organize our freezer. this is a great idea! we even have a stack of brightly colored plastic tubs from our son’s old toy storage shelves that i have been saving and they will work just fine for this method.

    can’t wait to get started on this.

    Reply
  15. this is a great idea. i have a couple of wire baskets i can use already. i like the idea of the black ones that dip in front.

    Reply
  16. awesome. i just got tons of apples i am working on freezing, and realizing just how in need i am of new organization in my freezers.

    Reply
  17. i keep my freezer list on the door in a plastic sleeve. we use a grease pencil to mark how many of each item. then as it is taken out.

    rub out the number and make it one less.

    finally i have an organized freezer. :smiley-signs061: :3_4_31[1]:

    Reply
  18. wow, this is my next project, i am sure we waste plenty due to being in the freeze to long – buried and by the time we find it, well you guessed it, ruined, freeze burnt, etc. today i started the first step in solving (i hope) that problem by ordering a food saver vacuum. next will purchase some bins to sort it all out.

    thank you for all the tips. my only concern is: does anyone have problems with the plastic bins cracking and breaking from the coldness?

    Reply
  19. Chest Freezer Option
    I had a huge chest freezer. It was a nightmare finding what I needed in there before I “contained” the chaos! ~ sorry for the pun.

    The container idea still works well for a chest freezer, but the layout & logic are just a little different.
    1. Buy larger stackable containers. Make sure the lids fit tightly.

    I liked using clear containers best for easy identification and quantity judgement.
    2. Mark one short end of the container as new, and the other end as old.
    3. Identify the bin contents on the OLD end with a label, such as Beef, Chicken, Veggies, Fruit, etc.
    4.

    Fill your containers, placing older items near the OLD size. Place the lid on the container.
    5. Stack your containers- standing on the short end – with the new end toward the bottom of the freezer.

    i also used two of the rolling baskets that came with my freezer, and i set them to their highest position. one basket was for frozen juice and milk, while the other basket was designated for bread and cheese.

    whenever i needed something, i didn’t have to empty out the freezer to find it. all i had to do was remove one or two bins.

    Reply
  20. i have a freezer tip.. since i have a large upright freezer for foods, i use the freezer compartment in my refrigerator to store my spices.. i buy them in the larger sizes for things i use frequently, and store them on the upper shelf…and i store the smaller ones in a plastic tote below the shelf.

    they keep a lot longer than in a hot cupboard, or (horrors.!) in a spice rack in the heat and the light, which help them deteriorate. i have two hand made spice racks my dad made, but didn’t like the weak spices
    that came out of the jars. i use the racks for sewing notions now.

    :jar:

    Reply
  21. chest freezer idea…

    what about the wire shelf thing you can get for stacking dishes? just a thought…it might work to help stack containers.

    i really like willowend’s idea of putting containers on the short end…that should work well too.

    just my two cents… :smile1:

    Reply
  22. i just did this (on a much smaller scale) in my fridge freezer with plastic baskets from the dollar store. one each for meat/fish, fruits/veggies, baby food, etc. and i kid you not, hubby went to look for baby’s supper and asked me which basket it would be in (they are all labeled with black marker)

    Reply
  23. this is a great idea and i am going to try it. i have a large family and have to stock up on a regular basis. i think this can really help me be more efficient.

    Reply
  24. i also use baskets and wire containers in my biggest freezer. i have small baskets with handles on the front. thats where i store the flat frozen soups and stock also like a file cabinet at the top of the freezer.

    meats are stored at the bottom just in case of a power failure or any other reason, so defrosted meat doesn’t drip on other food. ( this freezer is over 20 years old, so you never know!) A shelf for quick fix items, a shelf for pre-prepared, a shelf for veggies. Its my long-term frezzer.

    I have 2 other side by sides for freezing breads,rolls, etc. and extra specialty flours and baking goods like chocolate chips, nuts, coconut. We live in the country and have a problem with ants!

    Reply
  25. i dont eat ready meals, and mostly eat raw foods so i dont have a lot in my freezer!! even so, i did read the article but cannot help thinking of all that tupperware sat all dusty in the back of peoples cupboards, why buy boxes/tubs (more money) to replace the boxes food already comes in? and what happens to the defrosting and cooking instructions if you take everything out of the original bags?

    Reply
    • I dont eat ready meals, and mostly eat raw foods so I dont have a lot in my freezer!! Even so, I did read the article but cannot help thinking of all that tupperware sat all dusty in the back of peoples cupboards, why buy boxes/tubs (more money) to replace the boxes food already comes in? And what happens to the defrosting and cooking instructions if you take everything out of the original bags?

      We don’t buy “ready” meals, we make our own “Meal Kits” from fresh ingredients that are in season and then freeze them. So there aren’t any “defrosting and cooking Instructions” other than the finishing instructions in the recipe.

      95% of the contents of this particular freezer is fish & chicken- halibut, cod, crab, catfish, etc.

      We don’t purchase “boxed” foods, they’re loaded with GMO’s, chemicals, Food Colorings & various additives, so “repackaging” them isn’t a concern. We make our own convenience foods.

      Budget101.com – – Make Your Own Mixes | Dirt Cheap Homemade Mixes from Budget101.com

      Reply
  26. i live with my dd and her family. she and i both shop, and the freezer looks like it! i am going to pick up some organizers and completely redo the freezer so we can find what we have.

    our freezer has baskets, rather than shelves, already, so i am trying to decide what changes i will make. one will be to add some shelves for small items, like 1 lb. boxes of butter.

    That is something I always have on hand for baking. There are all sizes and kinds of organizers; it is just a matter of finding what will work best for us!

    Reply
  27. i just ‘knew’ this post existed when i went to look for the idea rolling around in my head. i am concerned though about the ‘type’ of plastic to use for the containers. fixed income in my household means you do not waste money.

    i have been using the heavy duty plastic shopping bags (eg: aldi’s) for separating in my freezer for years. but due to illness/disease i cannot lift that way anymore. so plastic containers to be lifted with both hands is the way i can go.

    my question is: what kind of plastic containers/baskets will not shatter with the freezer temperatures? i thought maybe milk crates. my chest freezer measures 5.0 cubic feet .

    and if milk crates are they way to go…..where do i get them?

    sherri :moneytight:

    Reply
  28. I have a question about the shelves on top of the wire baskets. Were they original to your freezer, or did you add them? We have a side by side fridge and only that freezer.

    It came with bins, but I will need to find something to make a shelf to place on top. The problem is that it is so narrow. that we may have to cut something to fit.

    Any suggestions welcome!

    Reply
  29. I would be careful about using solid sided bins for storage. They don’t let the cold air flow though the freezer. I found plastic bins at Dollar Tree.

    I use them in the refigerator so I can use them as drawers too. Besides, if somethings spills, I can clean out one basket and not the entire frdige.

    Reply
  30. Love this idea. My dad asked me to help him defrost and clean out his big upright freezer the other day, then here I find this article. Must be fate!

    I may not get the whole thing done at once but shelf by shelf it WILL get done.

    Reply
  31. I was looking for a way to really organize my freezer. this was a great article. looking forward to buying my bins and organizing my freezer.

    Reply

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