How often have you opened your freezer to find that meal-prepped dinner, only to spend way too long digging through mountains of freezer-burnt foods to find it? Your freezer may not be the workhorse that your refrigerator is, but keeping it organized will help you get so much more out of the space.
If it sounds overwhelming, don't worry—there are a few easy things you can do today to make dinner a little bit easier tomorrow. Read through our tips to organize a freezer from top to bottom.
Clean It Out
If you're not starting from scratch, but instead hoping to establish a whole new storage system in your freezer, spend some time first cleaning everything out of your freezer. Determine whether your freezer could use a defrost. Next, make sure anything that is freezer-burnt or past its use-by date is thrown away so you have a clean slate with only food you will actually eat.
Freeze Everything in Serving Sizes
One of the least efficient ways to store anything in your freezer is to do it in large packs. Sure, you may buy an enormous value pack of chicken, but try breaking it into smaller sizes before you freeze it. This will not only allow you to take up less overall space in your freezer, but when it comes time to defrosting food for dinner, you won't have to thaw out more than you'll actually use.
Invest in Plastic or Silicone Organizers
Unlike the fridge, a freezer is usually lacking in shelves, instead featuring a large, open space that is hard to organize. To take advantage of more space and avoid an unwieldy pile of food, invest in high-quality organizers. Create themes for each one (say, frozen fruits, veggies, meat, and so on) and label each one so you can easily pull one out and find what you need.
Opt for clear containers so you can quickly see what you have without digging through layers of frozen foods.
Sure, your freezer definitely extends the life of your food, but that doesn't mean it will last forever. Plus, it can be nearly impossible to decipher a batch of chili from some hearty tomato sauce when it has been frozen for a few weeks. Label everything with what it is, when it was made, and how much it weighs unfrozen. This will help when you need to find ingredients for a recipe or you want to ensure you have enough to feed your whole family before you defrost.
Flatten Everything in Bags
If you're freezing liquid items, use freezer bags and be sure to flatten it first. A flat bag will be much easier to stack in your freezer and will take up overall less space. When you stack it in your freezer, be sure to put it with likewise foods so you can easily find what you need (and of course, label!).
Consider What You Store in the Door
Similar to your fridge, your door's freezer is the warmest place in the whole unit. Use this space for more hearty foods, like bread or dough. Don't place high-fat frozen foods like ice cream on your door—the shifts in temperature could cause them to melt and refreeze.
Keep a List
The reality is that it's simply harder to see exactly what you have in your freezer than in your fridge, so a running list of all of your freezer inventory can be a very handy tool. A small dry erase board or a note tacked to your freezer can work as an ongoing tally of everything you have—just be sure to cross stuff out once it has been used.
Get Rid of Boxes
Freezing items in bulky cardboard boxes will just take up extra space in your freezer. Instead, remove items from the boxes they came in and place them in a reusable container instead. Of course, this method only works if you keep the items well-organized. Otherwise, a bunch of loose popsicles in your freezer will just add unnecessary clutter.
When it comes to organizing your freezer, a little prep work will go a long way. A few easy steps like creating likewise zones and adding a few extra storage containers to your freezer will make it far easier to find exactly what you need.