2 Tips for Organizing Your Freezer | From Overwhelmed to Organized: 2 Tips for Organizing Your Freezer

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

2 Tips for Organizing Your Freezer

I'm baaack!!  After a short blogging break due to illness and March Break, I'm back today with more kitchen organizing tips for you!  We're all pretty much over our various sicknesses, and the kids managed to have a pretty good break from school.  Of course, for them, any break from school is good :)

Today I'm sharing tips to help you organize your freezer.  Whether you have a side-by-side freezer, a freezer above your fridge, or a freezer drawer below your fridge, you'll be able to apply these general tips.  I've got a freezer above my fridge, so the pictures will be from that, but the principles are transferable.

Kitchen Organizing Tips

First, as a refresher, or in case you missed any, here's a list of all the tips I've shared already (with links to the corresponding post).
  1. Use drawer dividers
  2. Measure before you buy
  3. Determine the purpose of each drawer
  4. Purge before organizing
  5. Store like with like
  6. Keep items where you use them
  7. Store items you don't regularly use in "out-of-the-way" spots
  8. Maximize the vertical space in deep drawers
  9. Create zones in your kitchen
  10. Use boxes and baskets to contain like items
  11. Use clear containers for baking ingredients
  12. Label your containers
  13. Done is better than perfect
  14. Store dishes in a cupboard you can easily reach when you empty the dishwasher
  15. Maximize the vertical space in cabinets using wire shelves 
  16. Store all your hot beverage supplies together
  17. Use under-the-shelf baskets to maximize vertical space in cabinets 
  18. Store all your breakfast supplies together
  19. Use the top shelf of a food cabinet to store extra foods
  20. Hang paper towels on the back of a cabinet door to keep them off your counters
  21. Keep as many items in drawers or cabinets as possible, instead of on counters
  22. Rearrange or relocate items on counters for a less cluttered look
  23. Wash dishes frequently and put them away quickly  
  24. Relocate items that you rarely use so they don't clutter your kitchen
  25. Use narrow spaces under the sink for tall, narrow items
  26. Use plastic bins to contain cleaning supplies under the sink 
  27. Use short stacks as much as possible so you don't have to move items to access others
  28. Only store shallow pans in a shallow drawer
  29. Only keep as many food storage containers as you actually need and use regularly 
  30. Only use matching food storage containers

I can't believe I'm still adding tips to this list!  You'll see some of these again today, because they apply in so many different contexts in the kitchen (and anywhere you're organizing!).

My Freezer Before Organizing

Here's a picture I took last week, before I started organizing my freezer.

It's just a big ole' jumbled mess.  It used to look a lot worse, with everything just shoved in anywhere.  But about a year and a half ago I made an initial attempt to organize it.  I added some baskets to contain like items.  It worked quite well overall and helped keep the freezer cleaner.  But over time a few baskets were removed to make room for boxes of food and then it just sort of spiraled quickly into chaos. 

Here's a look at the freezer door last week.

Also rather disorganized.  But you can see glimpses of organization.  I used a couple empty strawberry containers to contain our small ice packs (bottom left) and freezies (bottom right).  And there are ziplock bags with reusable ice cube shapes in between them, trying to escape out the bottom.  That helped a lot because before that they were falling all over the place!

Containing food items definitely helped.  But I wanted to be able to keep the freezer organized all the time, so that it doesn't end up looking like this again.

Kitchen Organizing Tip #31: Remove frozen foods from boxes to conserve space in the freezer

The biggest problem with keeping a small freezer organized is just that... it's small... and boxes of frozen food take up lots of space.  To eliminate this problem, I took all our frozen foods out of their boxes.

I know... I can hear you saying, "but I need the directions from the boxes" (or the ingredients, or nutrition info, or the brand, etc.)!  The simple solution is to cut out the parts of the box you need and store it with the food.  Most frozen foods in boxes also come in a bag inside the box, so you can keep the information inside the bag or taped to the outside of it.

This takes up so much less space than a bunch of boxes!  Plus I can see how much I have left so I know when I need to buy more.

Many of the frozen foods in your freezer probably don't really require directions anyway because they're either obvious (like toasting waffles) or you know how to cook an item because you've prepared it so many times it's ingrained in your memory. 

So here's how my freezer looks now.

So much better!  I bought some taller bins so I can utilize the vertical space on the top shelf better.  I couldn't find exactly what I was looking for (I wanted bins that go straight up instead of being slanted on the sides, so there's less wasted space), but these are pretty good.  They're all from the dollar store.

I moved 1 box of frozen chicken downstairs to our small chest freezer, since we don't really like it, and we're planning to give it away.  But all the rest of the boxes were recycled.  I actually have some extra space in several of the bins.

I grouped similar foods into each bin.  My categories are:  veggies & potatoes, breakfast, sides & leftovers, meat, water bottles, and first aid.  These work for the kinds of food we usually have in this freezer.  Although, I may still change the meat bin to one of the larger ones, instead of a smaller one.  You may have separate bins for veggies and potatoes.  I'd planned that, but by using the taller bin I was able to fit them both into one, and I frequently cook both of those at the same time so, for me, it's handy this way.  Some people may also have a bin for frozen fruit or other smoothie ingredients.  I just kept our one bag in the door.  In the summer when me make more smoothies I may change things a bit. 

The water bottles are for my hubby for work, and we also use them as ice packs for day trips.  Just like I gathered the empty bottles that he fills every day in a basket in our breakfast zone cupboard to get them off the counter, I think having a basket for frozen bottles will contain them better than having them in the door. 

I used my label maker and clear labels, as well as some Avery Kids Self-Laminating Labels that I received at the POC Conference last fall.  The package said these labels were good in the freezer and I love the pop of colour they add.  They were so easy to use too.  {Avery isn't paying me to say any of this... I just like these labels!}

I spliced two labels together for the longer categories... turned out pretty good I think :)

I organized the freezer door too.

We don't normally have 3 containers of ice cream in our freezer, but my son's birthday was on Sunday so we have some leftovers from his party right now.  Once we're back down to one, I'll have even more space in my freezer.  I'll use it for any overflow items or for single serving leftovers.

Kitchen Organizing Tip #32: Use a small container in the freezer door to hold small items

I still have a strawberry container for our small ice packs (there are usually more in there, but I took this picture while my kids were at school and they have some in their lunch bags).  I decided to cut the top off the plastic container though to make it easier to get the ice packs in and out.

This is so much better than having those small items floating around in your freezer, getting lost!  

If you remember the "before" picture, I had another container like this one full of freezies, but I tossed them because they've been in there since summer.  We can start fresh in a few months.  I also purged one set of reusable ice cube shapes since we don't use them very often.

So now you can use these tips to organize your freezer!  No more freezer-burned items because they were jammed in the back and forgotten about.  Find what you need easily because foods are grouped and contained. 

If you have a freezer drawer under your fridge, or a side-by-side freezer/fridge, you can use these tips too.  Use bins or baskets to contain and group your frozen foods in both those styles of freezers.  And small containers will help hold small items if you have fairly open-weave baskets in your freezer drawer, or in the door of a side-by-side. 

Ready to organize? 

You can find more kitchen organizing ideas on my Kitchen Organizing board on Pinterest. 

And I've still got a few more kitchen organizing tips to share over the next few weeks, but I'll be branching out to a few other organizing and decluttering topics too, so I'm planning to share a kitchen tips post about once a week until the series is finished.   

How do you organize your freezer?  Do you have other tips for keeping your freezer foods organized?  

Happy organizing!

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Here are all the posts from the kitchen organizing tips series: