While it may seem frightening staring down into the abyss that is your chest freezer, it will not get organized on its own. Fortunately, it’s not all that hard organizing your freezer, and it won’t break the bank either, which means it’s a perfect chore to tackle so you can make enough room for the holiday leftovers!
How to Organize a Chest Freezer
Organize your food into categories in a way that makes sense to you. For example, you could sort your food into categories such as ground meats, frozen veggies, ready-to-use freezer meals, or soup or broth jars.
Organise grouped items into containers that fit your freezer. Although your freezer may come with one basket or bin, you’ll need more.
You could just round up bins and/or sturdy cardboard boxes you already own. There’s no need to get fancy, just make sure your storage system is functional and effective!
Layer your bins
Now that you’ve got everything categorized and sitting in bins or boxes, it’s time to arrange them in layers. Here’s how to do it:
- ⬥ Place one or two bins/boxes on the bottom of the freezer
- ⬥ On top of those, add another layer of 1-2 bins
- ⬥ Next, add another layer on top.
You can easily and neatly remove bins to get what you need instead of having to dig through a cold, messy pile.
- ⬥ Arrange your bins in opposing directions for an easy way to visually separate the layers.
- ⬥ The most-grabbed items should appear at the top, and the least-grabbed items at the bottom.
Create an inventory
It’s extremely easy to lose something in a chest freezer. Keep track of your freezer’s contents, using tools such as:
- ⬥ a spreadsheet
- ⬥ a whiteboard that’s attached to the wall by your freezer
- ⬥ an app on your phone, or
- ⬥ good old pen and paper
What is the shelf life of food in the freezer?
Food can be kept indefinitely when frozen. However, quality will be best if eaten within a certain period of time. The National Center for Home Preservation and FoodSafety.gov provides some guidelines:
|Item||Storage time (0 deg. or below)|
|Ground meat||2 to 3 months|
|Steaks||6 to 12 months|
|Chops||4 to 6 months|
|Roasts||4 to 12 months|
|Whole chicken||1 year|
|Chicken pieces||9 months|
|Fish||3 to 6 months|
|Soups and stews||2 to 3 months|
|Fruits and vegetables||8 to 12 months|
Defrosting a chest freezer
You’ll have to defrost your chest freezer yourself if it’s manual. But it’s simple: When you notice that frost has built up along the sides, it’s time to defrost your chest freezer.
This will probably only need to be done once per year and it will take an hour or less to do.
- ⬥ Take everything out of your freezer and put it in the refrigerator’s freezer or a cooler
- ⬥ Unplug the freezer, then keep the lid open
- ⬥ If your freezer has an interior plug and exterior drain hole, attach a hose to the drain and remove the plug so that the melting ice can flow out the hose.
- ⬥ Give the frost time to melt, helping it along by using a plastic or wooden spoon or a plastic scraper to gently chip away at the frost.
- ⬥ Wipe down the inside and outside of your freezer.
- ⬥ Turn it back on and once it’s reached the right temperature, put your food back in and you’re done!