I have been saving a freezer organization article I read in Better Homes & Gardens magazine for an embarrassingly long time (October 2009- eek) on getting and keeping a freezer organized. Not only does it help to ensure food is used up in a timely manner, but it also makes it easier to grocery shop and meal plan when you have a list of what you already have. It also saves time from digging deep into the freezer with all that cold air blowing on you. :)
I had really wanted a large freezer so I could keep healthy foods available throughout the year and also to have the space to purchase local, free range beef, pork, and chickens in large quantities. However, once I got one I didn’t really keep tabs on what I had and was using (or forgetting to use) so I have now finally taken the time to implement some of the organization tips from this article.
The first thing I did was take a full inventory of the freezer (yes, brrrr) and then sort it out by food type. I purchased a magnetic, dry erase marker board (as suggested in the article) to post right on the freezer, then added all of the information to it. The picture is a little dark since the freezer is in the basement, but this is what I ended up with.
The marker board works great because I can remove an item from the freezer and make a quick adjustment to the number available or I can add a new item very easily. So far I have remembered to do this each time and it will be important to continue to do so or the inventory will get messed up very quickly. This visual inventory also has brought to my attention that I actually have very few veggies frozen (will need to do more next year) and that I have an awful lot of berries to use up before this summer (healthy muffin recipe anyone?).
I also now have different sections in the freezer dedicated to certain items (berries on top shelf, etc.), but to take it a step further the article suggests labeled bins that can quickly be recognized and pulled out to grab something. If you have a very full freezer with a large variety of foods, this might be especially helpful. Plastic luggage tabs are suggested for the bins as they can be reused with a new label slid in if needed.
Now these are just a few tips to get started with organizing a freezer; please feel free to share if you have any others. I am fortunate to be able to buy produce locally when it’s the most fresh (and usually priced best) and now that I’m getting organized making sure I use it up efficiently is easier than ever.