Frozen Fingers

Dear Home Ec 101,
We scored a great deal on a 7 cubic ft freezer. Since our family gardens and we have a teenager, it’s great to have the extra storage space, but the storage part of that is a problem. It only has one lone basket on the top where I keep bread. Otherwise, it’s a great abyss! I tried stacking neat piles of meat/fruits and veggies/frozen pizza (teenage son you know!) but when I reach for something it all topples together! Please help my storage dilemma!
Digging in the Depths off the Deep Freeze

Heather says:

Milk crates and sturdy cardboard are the first things to come to mind. To create a divider from a piece of cardboard, cut it just the slightest bit wider than the depth of the freezer and carefully wedge it in to create a compartment. Now you can stack your pizzas to your heart’s content without fear of toppling.

Use a milk crate (or two) to contain bags of frozen vegetables or to sort cuts of meat by type.

Remember to clearly label and date items. Unidentified frozen objects are rarely enticing and may go to waste.

How about it Home Eccers, how do you tame the wilds of your deep freeze?

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  3. Cori Westphal on February 6, 2009 at 7:56 pm

    I just use good old carboard boxes and I label them with a permanant marker. They stack great and keep stuff organized. Go to the liquor store and get some of their empty wine or liquor bottle boxes. They are double glued and super strong. Most even have removable dividers which work great for frozen veggies or fruits.

  4. Keter on February 5, 2009 at 4:36 pm

    Timely – I just stocked up my freezer with 99 cent a pound chicken breasts! I also use the stacking tub trick, and since I have a wealth of plastic Sterilite containers, I use those. Be warned that this is not an optimum solution: Sterilite gets brittle when frozen and must be handled carefully.

    I bought a pair of magnetic pencil cups at Ikea that is big enough to hold a pack of index cards and two or three writing implements. I have one stuck to my refrigerator for phone messages and grocery lists, and the other is on my freezer, one card for each bin. I used a Dymo tape labeler to label the lids of each container with the type of contents and a sequence number.

    My freezer has two top trays, and I use those to cycle up the next batch of stuff that needs to be moved to the refrigerator’s freezer for use.

  5. lee on February 5, 2009 at 4:02 pm

    I use the $.99 reusable grocery bags from Meijer to sort stuff, since we have a smaller chest freezer and using bins wasted a lot of space. I tuck the handles in the top of each bag for easy grabbing.

  6. caryn verell on February 5, 2009 at 10:51 am

    oops! i forgot to mention that you may get icy build up every time that freezer gets opened…to help prevent icy build up from being opened continually -cause kids are notorious for sticking their noses in where they don’t belong you should also keep your freezer locked….most come with lock and key…keep key hidden. this also will prevent theft should your freezer be stored in garage or back porch. and believe me, in todays economy going down the toilet, there will be thievery!

  7. caryn verell on February 5, 2009 at 10:34 am

    while recycling cardboard boxes or whatever to keep your deep freeze or upright freezer organized works like a charm, don’t forget that you really should clean your freezer/defrost (yes, even those frost free freezers) every three to five months…this not only helps to keep the contents organized but makes your freezer more energy efficien, and gives you an opportunity to rotate older frozen foods to the top. also, store not quite full recycled milk jugs/containers with water in the bottom of your freezer for those days when the electric power goes out for a period of time…helps keep things frozen and can also be thawed out for water needed during outages.

  8. Meredith on February 5, 2009 at 10:01 am

    I added 3 cardboard boxes to the bottom of our freezer so I could divide the meat by type. (We get ours from a farmer a couple of times a year, so there is a lot of meat!) A box for pork, a box for lamb and a box for beef. It is really great because when a new order of meat arrives, I pull whatever is still in that box out, put the new bag in the bottom of the box, and easily see what is older to be used first. I then have an area behind one of the boxes for any poultry and another spot for any seafood.

    I also found two new freezer baskets at our local second had store for just a couple of dollars each! They are a bit of a tight fit, but it means I now have four baskets in my freezer, filling the top totally. I have to pull one out to get to the right sort of meat underneath, but I usually go “shopping” in the freezer once a week for the meat for the week, so it isn’t a daily event.

    I use one of the baskets for ground beef, because there is more of that than anything else! I use another basket for frozen fruit and another for frozen vegetables. The fourth basket is for frozen dairy (butter on sale, cheese blocks on sale, etc.) and anything extra that won’t go anywhere else!

    I have lived with a chest freezer all of my life (my parents had one, we got one as soon as I got married), and just implemented this about 6 months ago. It has made a HUGE difference to how I use my freezer.

    For example, I noticed a few weeks ago that our store of butter was getting low, because it is all in one place. So when butter was on sale this week, I stocked up again!

    Also, for the first time, I don’t have to guess about which meat to use first, or dig through the entire freezer to find the ground beef I want!

    Finding a way to organize the freezer is really worth it. I had thought about it so many times. I wish I had done in years ago!

  9. Veggiemomof2 on February 5, 2009 at 9:05 am

    I use Rubbermaid tubs to organized my freezer. I wish mine had sliding baskets on the top like Mom’s does!

  10. Lisa on February 5, 2009 at 8:50 am

    I have a recycled laundry basket (the handles were cracked and pinched my hands) a milk crate and a basket from another freezer that was too short to hang in the bootom of my freezer I’ve left room b/n the containers as an additional space. I have 2 hanging baskets, one for frozen veggies and one for frozen lunches (Lean cuisines type) I also have 2 refrigerators…one “drink” frig, with ice cream and frozen desserts in that freezer and our kitchen frig (only 14 cubic feet, hence the drink frig) it has an ice maker and we keep this weeks meats for meals, and after work snacks or frozen fruit for morning smoothies.

  11. Kaci on February 5, 2009 at 6:03 am

    I have bought several small magnetic white boards that I have stuck to the outside of my freezer; each one lists the contents of each basket/shelf. This way I can easily see what I have and where it is without having to dig around. Just be sure to update the lists when you take something out or add something new.

  12. mom, again on February 5, 2009 at 5:50 am

    if you could find stackable baskets or crates in diff colors, you could color code your storage. Red for beef, green for veg, etc. This would make it easier to find specific items/quickly judge your stock of different items.

    uh-oh, the pink for ice cream crate is nearly empty, better stock up!

    Keep in mind, you can pour out (& drink, obv.) a few ounces of milk or juice, then freeze the rest in the carton if you come across a bargain. In my experience, freezing the full container can mean the container splits when the contents expand. Not every time, but once is enough.

  13. Rita on February 5, 2009 at 5:18 am

    My daughter bought the white plastic covered wire baskets at WalMart. The kind used for dividing items in cupboards. One will stand on top of another. Works beautifully.

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