The Best Way to Organize Your Chest Freezer (to find things easily!)
How to organize a chest freezer! These organization hacks and ideas will help you keep your deep freezer tidy and organized.
When it comes to freezers, they can quickly become a black hole where…
…things get messy fast.
…you find long-lost items years later, petrified and unusable.
…rock hard frozen bags of food fall on your toes as you dig around looking for something to cook.
It’s a problem!
And if you have a chest freezer, you know that they can be particularly difficult to organize, since they don’t have shelves.
Let’s just say that there can be lots of digging involved.
But despite being a challenge to organize, chest freezers are super helpful for:
- Storing large items that won’t fit in the regular freezer attached to your fridge.
- Stocking up on meat and frozen foods when they’re on sale.
- Being prepared for possible food shortages, or those weeks when you have a stretched-thin grocery budget.
Since I love my deep freezer, I was determined to figure out how to organize it.
It was actually much easier than I expected!
So I wanted to share some easy freezer organization ideas, to save your sanity AND your toes.
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Before you start, you’ll need to grab a few helpful supplies.
Freezer organization supplies:
- Gallon freezer bags
- Chest freezer organizer bins
- Chest freezer baskets
- Foodsaver machine and vacuum sealing bag rolls
- Freezer labels or a label maker
- Freezer marker pens
- Magnetic dry erase board or kitchen inventory printables
Okay, let’s get to the organizing!
How to Organize a Chest Freezer
Step #1: Take everything out
Start with a clean slate, and remove everything from your freezer.
You can put the items in a cooler, or just plan to work quickly (like I did).
Step #2: Defrost the freezer
If there is frost or ice inside your freezer, now’s a great time to remove it.
Unplug the freezer and open the lid to let the frost melt.
I was too impatient to wait for it all to melt, so I decided to just scrape all the frost off myself.
It took quite a bit of elbow grease, and I eventually found that a hard flat-sided spatula (like you’d flip pancakes with) worked best.
Once you’ve removed the frost, wipe away the moisture and debris.
Now you’ve got a clean freezer, ready to be properly organized.
Step #3: Sort
Start sorting through everything that was in your freezer.
Don’t be afraid to toss freezer-burned food, or food you know you won’t eat.
There’s no point in putting food you don’t like back into your newly organized freezer.
Step #4: Categorize food
Create categories that make sense to you.
You’ll be organizing your freezer with bins, baskets, or bags, so start placing similar items together.
Common freezer categories include:
- Meat and seafood
- Potatoes and side dishes
- Snacks and appetizers
- Prepared meals
- Ice cream and desserts
Step #5: Take an inventory
On a white board, in a notebook, on a printable inventory page, or in a spreadsheet, make a note of the items you have, and how many of each.
You can refer back to it when you’re meal planning, and you won’t keep re-buying foods you already have
Step #6 Organize into bins
Now that you have your freezer contents sorted and inventoried, it’s time to place them into your containers
Look for bins that stack well, such as these stackable freezer baskets.
(I happened to find some bins with lids on clearance at my grocery store.)
If you’re on a budget, search around your house for containers you can use.
You’ll just need anything that will contain the food in categories.
You could use dollar store bins, milk crates, baskets, or even reusable shopping bags.
Never let a lack of funds stop you from getting organized!
Now start placing ‘like’ items together into your containers.
Step #7: Stack bins
You’re in the home stretch now!
Stack the bins into your freezer, putting the most commonly used items on top.
If your bins aren’t stackable, or don’t have lids, alternate their direction (horizontally then vertically) so they can rest on each other.
Bonus step #8: Meal plan
Since you’ve just seen and inventoried the contents of your freezer, now’s the perfect time to think about how to use it.
Jot down the meal ideas that come to mind with the food you discovered in your freezer.
Or, make a full-blown meal plan for the week using those ingredients.
(If you’re new to meal planning, my Ultimate Meal Planning Bundle will walk you through the whole process.)
You did it! I hope you found this process for how to clean and organize your chest freezer easy and inspiring.
Before you go, here are a few more freezer organization hacks.
They work for any size or type of freezer!
Related: 31 Eat From the Pantry Recipes (to use up what you have!)
Freezer Organization Tips:
Label, label, label
When freezing food in your own packaging, be sure to label what the item is AND a date.
You can write a use-by date, or the date you placed the item in the freezer.
Use a Foodsaver
If you like to stock up on meat and produce when they’re on sale, you can extend their shelf life by YEARS just by vacuum sealing them.
A Foodsaver removes all the air to lock in freshness, with the added benefit of making the item more compact, saving space in your freezer.
I share tons of ideas for using a Foodsaver in this post.
Freeze in portions
Instead of throwing a huge pack of meat in the freezer, portion it out into the amounts you’ll actually use.
That way, when you’re ready to whip on some tacos, you can quickly defrost that pound of ground beef.
For open bags of food, squeeze the air out before putting it back in the freezer.
It’ll have less opportunity for freezer burn, and save a lot of space.
Take items like waffles out of their boxes to fit more.
You can freeze soups and sauces in zip-top bags. Lay the bags flat to freeze, then store them upright in a ‘file system’ manner.
Keep an inventory
Keep your freezer inventory up to date, so things don’t get lost and forgotten.
My digital meal planner makes it super easy to keep track of it right on your phone.
If you forget to keep up with the inventory on a daily basis, try to do one at least every 3-4 months.
Related: The Easiest Way to Do a Pantry Inventory
Arrange items with purpose
Put the heaviest items on the bottom, and the lightest (such as bread products) on top.
Keep the food you grab most often in easy reach.
Place new items in the back, so you’re always using the oldest items first.
How long does food last in the freezer?
Technically, food that is frozen will stay safe to eat indefinitely.
However, freezer burn can start to set in within 3 months, and it will start losing flavor, texture, and moisture.
To greatly extend the life of your food, consider getting a vacuum sealing machine.
Ready to organize your freezer?
As you can see, you can organize a chest freezer in a few simple steps.
The secret is to get freezer baskets, bins, or dividers of some sort to categorize your find and keep it from floating around in the great abyss.
For more kitchen organization ideas, check out:
Dear Rebecca, you are so smart. I follow every blog you post with enthusiasm and interest. I just defrosted my chest freezer with your method and boy is my wife happy! ‘ll keep reading your blogs for more wife-pleasing ideas.
Thank you for your kind words, Tim! I’m so glad that the freezer defrosting method worked well for you, and that your wife is pleased. As they say, Happy Wife, Happy Life! : )
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