How to Organize a Chest Freezer in 5 Easy Steps

Keep extra ingredients organized with this guide to deep freezer storage.

An additional freezer in your garage or basement comes with major benefits. If you enjoy hosting large gatherings, having the extra space to freeze a premade meal or store-bought frozen appetizers (hey, no judgment) eases some stress leading up to the event. Or maybe you have a large family and like to buy in bulk. Gone are the days of trying to squeeze a 10-pound bag of chicken into the small freezer attached to your refrigerator.

Not only does a chest freezer with bonus space to store frozen foods and meals make event prep easier, but it can also save you some money. You'll be able to take advantage of sales, knowing that you're not cluttering up your regular freezer. However, a disorganized chest freezer can lead to food waste. While we might think they're safe to sit in the freezer for a long period of time, frozen foods do go bad after a while. If you're not keeping track of what you put into a chest freezer, it's easy for things to slip through the cracks.

Feel like your deep freezer could use a good decluttering session? Follow along to learn how to organize a chest freezer faster than you whip up a pan of lasagna to put in it.

woman grabbing frozen bag of vegetables out of a freezer
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1. Declutter What Doesn't Belong or Has Gone Bad

Editing the contents of your home doesn't need to take as much time as you might think. Your deep freezer is just one small area so think of this task as necessary rather than daunting.

Lay a towel or two down on a nearby surface, or set up a folding table, and start by pulling everything out of the freezer. If the original packaging has an expiration date that is past its prime or you're not sure of the contents or when you froze it, chances are that it's no longer good. Evidence of freezer burn is another obvious indication. Continue to pare down items until you only have food that is still good.

2. Sort Foods by Type

Once you've decluttered, the next step is to sort. For freezer foods, create categories, such as meat, fruits and veggies, prepared meals (further separating by homemade and store-bought if you'd like), kids' foods, sweets like tubs of ice cream, pizza, and so on. This process will not only give you an idea of what you might need to stock up on but also help you create zones within your deep freezer.

3. Organize Zones Using Containers

Now comes the part where you can embrace your inner Marie Kondo and get creative organizing with containers. Your deep freezer is not on display for anyone to ooh and ahh over so think about functionality over design. The look of the organizers you chose isn't all that important. However, the material is key if you want them to hold up over time.

It's tempting to recycle cardboard boxes for freezer storage but paper starts to soften and disintegrate when wet. Plastic baskets are suitable to use in freezers but make sure they're made with a sturdy material so they don't crack if you put something heavy in them. Search for containers designed specifically for fridge and freezer use, such as stackable acrylic bins.

Or jump on the eco-friendly organizing trend and use reusable silicone bags. Sure, plastic resealable bags can withstand being in the freezer for long periods of time. However, the reusable version is more durable, seals tighter, and drastically reduces plastic waste. If you're storing a good portion of your food in bags, line them upright in a bin so they don't get buried.

Regardless of the containers you choose to use, keep freezer zones separated and make sure everything is clearly visible so you can easily reach in to grab what you need.

4. Label Everything You Can

Whether you're organizing a small deep freezer or an oversize chest freezer, things will have to stack vertically, so labeling is a crucial step. This prevents questions later on regarding what is actually in each container once frozen. You should also mark the expiration date or, at the very least, the date you made the item or meal. Mark one-time-use bags with a permanent marker and place a moisture-resistant label sticker on reusable bins.

5. Keep an Inventory and Check It Regularly

If you want to go a step further when it comes to organizing a deep freezer, keep a list of items you currently have inside along with any important information, such as the expiration date or cooking instructions. You can do this electronically on a spreadsheet or have a physical list on a clipboard that hangs near the freezer so you'll be less likely to forget to keep track of it.

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