Creative ways to organize a deep freeze?!

ellen_inmo(6)August 10, 2012

Ugh! Is a deep freezer the most impractical thing ever?! You open the door and everything is a jumbled mess. I'm normally a pretty creative, practical person at coming up with solutions. But I'm up for any and all suggestions for organizing a freezer. Odd shaped packages and bags and heavy blocks of meat. If only everything could be put in box shaped packages. I just found 15 quart bags of frozen corn cut off the cob from last summer. How could that many be hiding in there?! Is it even still any good? I welcome suggestions for dealing with this disorganization. At this point, instead of purchasing a second freezer, I'd just as soon buy more jars and do more canning than freezing.

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Don't have a good solution but one that helps a little.
I get plastic tubs with holes on all sides.(air circulation) slightly smaller than those cubes for storage. I have several. I use them to sort different cuts of meat,different vegtables etc.

My neighbor uses fruit boxes he gets from the grocery store. I don't like them because they tend to fall apart when I am rummaging around looking for something.

You have to move them around to find what you want but it helps keep stuff together so you know what you have. (hard plastic will break easier)

Good luck. I'll be watching this for some better ideas.
I thought I could make things easier by getting an upright. They come with their own problems and are not much easier to keep organized.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2012 at 6:47AM
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I still get small things that fall to the bottom (between the turkeys - why can't poultry grow in a cube shape LOL?). But I use perforated baskets like backyardbum does, except mine have fold-down "handles" so when you're storing them they nest but when you want to fill them you fold the handles down to the inside and you can then stack them. Works well for bags of veggies, I keep broccoli in one (we eat lots of broccoli), green beans and peas in another, other veggies/mixes in a 3rd. So I can usually tell what we're getting low on. The meat side of the freezer is a bit of a jumble, though I try to pack stew meat and chops flat, and roasts somewhat in cubes, since I switched to FS bags instead of Tupperware the meat keeps better but doesn't stack as well ;-)

    Bookmark   August 11, 2012 at 8:37AM
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Well I have two uprights so gives me a few more options but generally, the bottom shelf or two are for meat. That way if my door gets left open the meat is last to defrost (my kids have been guilty of this on more than one occasion so I'm cautious now). Above that is a shelf for frozen fruit, then frozen veggies, and the top is things like nuts/brown rice (I buy in 50 pound bags and keep it in the freezer so it doesn't go rancid before we use it), chocolate chips, baked goods. In the door goes the few prepackaged items I buy.

Basically I organize it so that if the freezer is accidently defrosted, the most expensive/hardest to save ingredients are at the bottom and the easiest to deal with is at the top.

We are also a large family so things get emptied and refilled quite frequently here so things don't get lost very often.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2012 at 9:32AM
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I have two chest freezers, and find it easiest to use sturdy cardboard boxes.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2012 at 9:53AM
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Last year I decided to organize the deep freeze - took everything out and put into plastic crates. Tried to organize by fruit, vegetables, different cuts of meat, etc. It didn't help much. Anytime I need something, I have to move 3 or 4 crates (heavy), crate piles fall over, and so on. And it seems that I always need whats on the bottom! So I'll be watching this thread closely - though I don't know if a FULL deep freeze can really be organized AND easily accessible.

Regarding the corn - I made creamed corn the other night with cut corn from the freezer dated 2009 - tasted just as good as this years corn.

~ Tracy

    Bookmark   August 11, 2012 at 11:00PM
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Thanks everyone! I, also tried using the crates, and oh my golly did they ever get heavy! When I put bagged items (to be frozen) in the freezer, I always lay them out and smooth the bags flat on a cookie sheet, so that each bag doesn't become an irregular shaped blob looking thing. This works great, and if I ever wanted to "skip rocks" across a lake with perfectly flat frozen packages I'd be all set. I stack everything nice and neat, but all it takes is to pull one package from a spot and everything slips and slides onto each other and then the cussing begins. Looks like I'm not the only one. :-)

    Bookmark   August 11, 2012 at 11:12PM
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My sister says she buys those really really big ziploc bags, I think they are at least 2 gallon size if not even more. She puts like things in each one. Seems to work well for her.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2012 at 12:35AM
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We shop at Costco mostly and I find that their "packaging" for cereals (two bags in a large box)or the way they package many other things....those thin but sturdy boxes can make neat "filing cabinet" style organizers. Yes, I quite often have to re-arrange the box of chicken breasts, or vac-sealed fish portions...but darn, those breasts hurt when they slide onto my foot. I vac-seal and freeze spaghetti sauce, tomato sauce as well, and try to freeze them flat, then file them in an appropriate size box. We have tried the zip-lock containers, but when they hit the floor, they are finished.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2012 at 12:50AM
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I have a small chest freezer and I use the fabric reusable shopping bags and put things according to protein together. I have a bag for pork, one for beef, one for chicken, one for veg etc... that way as I have say, less beef and more pork, there is room for it as the bags are flexible. They are also easy to pick up because of the long handles and they will hold a lot.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2012 at 8:54AM
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This is a very helpful thread. I am going to try the reusable bag idea, that is great. I have tried boxes and bins but was never happy with the way it worked in my smallish deep freezer.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2012 at 6:43PM
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Agree! I never would have thought to try those bags. I think there would be less wasted space in a bag vs a box. Very good idea. Thanks to everyone!! Nice to know I'm not the only one using 4 letter words about this. ;-)

    Bookmark   August 13, 2012 at 7:18PM
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My chest freezer has plastic dividers that you can move, that spits the freezer up into 4 portions + the shelf over the compressor. For me: beef & bison, poultry, fish & pork and non-meat. I also have two sliding baskets on top for bags of veggies, butter and other small things.

My Mom does basically the same thing but with cardboard dividers or boxes; depends on the mood she's in.

When I am initially loading a half or a quarter of meat, I try to stack the same things vertically -- ground beef, sausage, roasts, etc. -- so the there's more variety up on top and i have to dig down less.

I keep a list, too, and mark things off as I use them, but I'm a bit compulsive. :)

    Bookmark   August 13, 2012 at 7:54PM
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Is this ever a helpful thread. I have the same problem, backyardbum. I just got my chest freezer last year. It's about 9 cubic feet - enough to meet the needs of my husband and I. I mainly use it to store fruit and meat but it also handles the overflow from our two bottom freezers on our refrigerators. When I was freezing strawberries awhile back, I was surprised to find about 12 pint- sized bags I didn't know were still in there! We bought a 1/4 beef plus some chickens and pork Tenderloins that ended up burying the berries.

I put all my small bags of fruit into those 2 1/2 gallon zip bags, sorted of course. I think I can fit about 12 vacuum sealed bags in each large bag. The vacuum bags hold about 1-2 cups of fruit each, depending on the size of he fruit.

I tried to find some baskets I could also use to hold the meat but so far I haven't found any that work well. I think I will try the shopping bag idea that Got_bullmastiff recommended. My husband & I are thinking of getting a 1/2 beef this year so I really need to get organized before October rolls around.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2012 at 2:24AM
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those bags have really worked out well for us. Our freezer is only the little chest freezer and at least now I can haul out bags and set them neatly on the floor while I get to the one I want. It also makes it easier to cram more in there because the bags are so bendy.

I have also been known to organize within the bag. Example: for inside the pork bag, I'll have a plastic grocery bags for sausage, one for chops and one for my extraneous stuff like fatback, salt pork, bacon lardons and pork belly trimmings. Less routing around in the big bag when all I want is sausage.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2012 at 12:19PM
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nancyjane_gardener(Zone 8ish North of San Francisco in the "real" wine country)

I have a foodsaver, and freeze everything in slabs.
If it's sauce or soups, I fill a bag with a large mouth funnel, put that in a baking dish with the sealing area clean and folded up, freeze overnight, then seal.
Slab-O-soup???? You got it!
I have slabs of soup, sauce, stew, etc etc etc!!!!

    Bookmark   August 17, 2012 at 9:50PM
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I use a variation of the reusable shopping bags...

Our local grocery store meat counter is happily full-service, so I normally have them single-wrap chicken breast halves, pork loin slices, etc. and just drop the entire plastic bag in, usually allowing a day of spread-out so they freeze quickly.

For the larger things that I can put on the bottom, where I'm not having to lift them out often, I'll frequently use boxes to get a better stack going.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2012 at 10:03AM
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when I freeze anything like blue berries or anything liquid like gravy, I fill a quart freezer bag, lay it flat on the counter to get all the air out and make sure it is sealed tight. Then I lay it on a cookie sheet in the freezer. Once it's frozen solid, I label and date it and stand it up, with the seal at the top, in a plastic "shoe" size box. I can just pull out the plastic box and flip through like a file cabinet to find what I need. I do have an upright freezer.....because I had a chest freezer for years and hated that I couldn't get to the things I needed on the bottom. This has worked great for me for many years, hope it can help someone here out!

    Bookmark   August 18, 2012 at 3:27PM
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Sally, I do the same type freezing, laid put flat, on a cookie sheet till solid. With most things, such as blueberries, I first freeze them solid in a single layer cookie sheet, then bag them up like frozen marbles. This works exceptionally well with frozen breaded, or par fried, zuchhini. I can take individual frozen pieces of zuchhini out of those quart bags like chips. Never clumping at all. For these type products when they freeze it isn't a solid lump (which is desirable). I hadnt considered trying to organize the flat disks of whatever upright. I think you're onto something there! Certainly better than trying to stack them. Heck, you can fill any kind of container that way, much less wasted space than laying flat in
a box. Great idea! Thanks!

    Bookmark   August 18, 2012 at 3:52PM
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