Nothing says “I’m a grown up” quite like a deep freezer in your garage. My husband and I stepped up to this advanced level of adulting earlier this year when we bought our first home. Initially, I wanted a deep freezer to store breast milk, which keeps it good for a full year versus 6 months in a regular freezer.
Looking beyond the benefits of breast milk storage, my husband started dreaming about a freezer full of Costco-sized meat and bought a pretty big deep freezer. After just a few months, our deep freezer was somehow filled to the brim with who-knows-what and quickly became a black hole of frozen goods.
Realizing that a poorly organized deep freezer makes meal prep and planning extra challenging (not to mention, where’s all my frozen breastmilk hiding in there?), I decided to give my freezer a makeover. It’s now more functional, and I can easily grab whatever I need, whether it’s milk that I need to thaw, frozen berries for a smoothie, or the chicken we’re going to prep for dinner.
If you’re ready to fill and organize your own deep freezer, here are the tips and products to make it happen.
Buy bins to organize
Deep freezers are amazing because they hold a lot, but because (as the name indicates) they’re deep, it’s easy for things to quickly become a big mess. Before you overload your freezer, invest in some wire baskets to help you organize. Divide and label baskets by category and try to keep the newest items at the bottom so you reach for the older products first.
Design Ideas Freezer Storage Basket
Measure your freezer and buy easy-to-access bins that will fit your space.
Make sure to label
Have you ever put something in a freezer bag and thought to yourself, “I don’t need to label this, I’ll totally remember that these are meatballs and that I made them in January.” I’ve definitely thought this multiple times and have ended up with a variety of mystery concoctions floating around my freezer. Label everything with exactly what it is, the quantity, and when you made and froze it. No matter how obvious you might think it will be to remember, you probably won’t.
These simple labels are an easy way to ensure you know what you've got in your freezer.
Freezer Meal Labels
Another option for cute freezer labels.
Keep a list
After labeling your items and putting them in your freezer, add the items to a handy list (which you can tape to the top of your freezer or put on your fridge). Organize your list however you see fit (which might be by date or by food category). It’s also helpful to note when you froze the items so nothing ends up sitting in the freezer for too long. Fun fact: I decided to clean out my parents’ freezer recently and found frozen berries that expired in 2010. Yikes.
When food shopping or meal planning, you can refer to your list to see what you might need to buy or what you may already have in your freezer. Take a quick glance at your list before heading to the store. It’s easy to get excited and buy things at the store that you’ve forgotten you already have at home.
Pantry and Freezer Invetory Checklist
Keep yourself organized with a handy list (also great for pantry items!).
Stock up during sales
And when you do head to the store and are in need of a restock, try to buy large quantities of items that are on sale or visit Costco so you can buy in bulk. Since you have the space, you may as well take advantage of sales and discounted bulk options. You can also try frozen food delivery services, like Butcher Box or Daily Harvest, to fill your freezer. With a service like Daily Harvest, typically, the more you buy per order, the better the price is. With the space in a deep freezer, you can select the largest order to make the price-per-item as good as possible.
Freeze in manageable quantities
Once you do your bulk buying, take some time to separate the products into smaller and more manageable quantities. It’s easy to just toss 5 lbs of chicken in the freezer, but that means you’re going to have to defrost and cook all of that chicken at once. Instead, freeze it in the amount your future self will want to cook.
Reusable Silicone Food Storage Bags
Use silicone bags or glass containers to store frozen foods.
Clear out every six months
No matter how organized you are, things can get lost and forgotten in a deep freezer. Every six months, do a one or two-week challenge to clear out your freezer. Take note of what you have and meal plan to use as much of the oldest products in your freezer as you can. This is also a great time to do a pantry clean out. Go through the same process in your pantry and see what dry goods you’ve had hanging around for a while. By doing this every six months or so, you’re less likely to have to toss food past its expiration date.