My in-laws bought us a deep freezer as a birthday gift for myself and my husband this year. We’ve been wanting one of these for a while, but until we moved, didn’t have anywhere to put one. We nowhave the perfect spot for a small one in our pantry.
We opted for a chest freezer instead of an upright freezer for two reasons:
1. We only have room for a chest freezer. Part of our pantry is directly under our stairs, and there isn’t enough room to even stand up there. A chest freezer was the only possibility.
2. Even if we had the space for an upright, we still would have chosen a chest freezer because they are significantly less expensive. We purchased our model through Lowe’s for $175 (that includes taxes) and got free delivery. Pretty sweet deal, I think.
But here’s the thing about chest freezers that every owner of one hates: they are a MAJOR pain to keep organized, and more often than not, owners find themselves throwing away food that they completely forgot about and that they find a year (or more!) after putting it away.
We have a chest freezer to help us preserve our food and stretch our grocery dollars. We aren’t saving any money if we freeze food and then throw it away later. So I knew we needed to tackle the organization issue. And we found a solution that works for us!
First, we separated our food into different categories. These are the categories that make sense for us; you may need slightly different categories.
- Prepared meals
- Baby food
Each category got a canvas tote of a different color associated with it. Here are the color combos we chose based on what we had available!
- Vegetables: green
- Fruits: gray
- Meats: brown
- Prepared meals: blue
- baby food: white
1. The handles on the bags give us the opportunity to easily move food out of the way and pull out what we are looking for without having to dig around and be hunched over so much.
2. Canvas bags won’t snap due to the cold (I have read that plastic bags WILL break and aren’t a good option). They also are much more flexible than sturdy crates, which is a method some folks choose for organizing their chest freezers. We have a bit more room in the freezer by using canvas totes.
With that said, it is definitely the case that our chest freezer cannot hold as much as it could if we just packed in food by itself. But if we did that, we’d spend SO much time digging around for things and being frustrated. The loss of some space is definitely an ok price to pay for the ease of use.
With our tote system, we addressed how to easily access the food we wanted. Now we needed to address how to know what we have so that we don’t forget about anything!
We decided to use a very clever invention, chalkboard paper (bought it on Amazon…money very well spent, in my opinion). This covers the top of our chest freezer and serves as our master inventory list. Check it out!
By using chalk, it is easy to just wipe off the item you have used and then replace it with a new item you have added.
There’s also a bonus benefit to putting your master list on the top of your chest freezer: it keeps people from setting anything down on top of the freezer (and it becoming yet another space where junk accumulates).
So there you have it! That’s how we stay on top of our frozen food storage!
This post contains affiliate links. If 100 of you buy chalkboard paper, I might earn enough money to buy some chalk. Wish I was kidding. 😉