Too often, the freezer is the place where leftovers and groceries go to die. That’s a sad waste of food and money! And a waste of the appliance! When used properly, your freezer can be a total day-saver. (Need dinner in a pinch? Pull out some frozen veggies and a box of pasta! Wanna save those expensive herbs so they don’t go to unused? Freeze them in olive oil! Wanna make a double batch of your grandma’s pasta sauce to get the most out of your efforts? Freeze it!) The key is just keeping it all organized — so you can keep track of everything and pull it out when you need it.
Here are our best organizing tips that’ll work whether you have a top freezer, a drawer freezer, a side-by-side freezer, or even a bonus chest or stand-up freezer in the basement.
1. Label everything.
If you do just one thing on this list (although we strongly urge you to do them all!), make it be this. You may remember what’s in that pink container now, but you might not remember in a month or two. Use making tape and a permanent marker to write down the name of the dish AND when you put it in there. This way, you don’t have to play any guessing games.
Related: The $3 School Supply Item That Keeps My Kitchen Organized
2. Freeze things flat.
When freezing things like cooked ground beef, soup, and chili, freeze them in plastic baggies (which you can reuse!) so that they’re flat. This way, once something is properly chilled, you can “file” things away like orderly little folders.
3. And in pre-portioned sizes.
While you’re getting things ready for the freezer, consider what counts as a portion size for your family (even if that’s a family of one!). Then, freeze things in that size! So if you need five chicken breasts to feed your family, freeze five chicken breasts together. Not four and not six. Five.
4. Don’t let it get too full or too empty.
Your freezer is the ultimate Goldilocks lesson. If it’s too empty, your freezer will have to work extra-hard (read: not efficiently!) to keep all your food frozen. If it’s too full, the air won’t circulate properly. The optimal fullness? With stuff on all the shelves, but not so much stuff that it’s packed tightly in there.
5. Take things out of boxes when you can.
Boxes can add unnecessary bulk to a freezer. If whatever’s inside is also in a bag, consider taking the box out and recycling it now to save some room in the freezer. Just cut out the cooking instructions and tape them to the bag.
See how much of a difference this makes: A Brilliant Tip for Better Freezer Organization
6. Invest in these chef-approved containers.
A go-to in most restaurant kitchens, these plastic containers are stackable, durable, and clear. One of our favorite writers totally transformed her freezer with just a few of them. Prefer glass? Don’t worry — we’ve got some suggestions for that, too.
Read more: These Plastic Containers Turned My Freezer into a Beautifully Organized Ice Tundra
7. Never put ice cream on the door.
The door (or front of the freezer, if you have a drawer) is the warmest part of the freezer. Put ice cream there (or anything that’s high in fat) and you may find that it’s too soft or covered with freezer burn. Instead, stash the ice cream deeper in the freezer and use the door for things like nuts and booze.
Read more: The Best Way to Organize Your Freezer
8. Add bins or baskets.
Ice pops and those skinny bags of frozen sauce can easily slip through wire shelves. Keep things organized by sorting like stuff together in baskets. Meghan Splawn, our associate food editor, found these at her local dollar store.
9. Keep a freezer inventory.
Keep a running inventory (on a dry-erase board, in your phone, or in an old-fashioned notebook) and you won’t forget about that lasagna you made last Sunday.
Read more: How I Take a Freezer Inventory That Works
Got any other tips to add? Leave them in the comments below!
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