I thought having a drawer style freezer would be better than the skinny one from my old side-by-side refrigerator. Well, I was wrong. I feel like I can’t find anything in there, and I can’t fit anything either. Help! How do I make my freezer more functional?
Freezer Drawer Organization
Oh, how I feel ya! I just got that type of fridge too and you’re right, it is an adjustment. What looked like so much freezer space in the appliance showroom seems SO stinkin’ small when you start trying to fill it to suit your lifestyle. Here’s what I’ve found to work for me, and I hope it will work for you, too.
Freezer Drawer Organization
1. Be intentional with purchases.
Gone are the days of buying four different flavors of ice cream and stocking up on frozen pizza in a 5/$10 sale. Sorry girlfriend, that ‘ish won’t fly anymore. But honestly, this is not really such a bad thing. A lot of the stuff you piled up in your old side-by-side fridge/freezer combo never got eaten anyway. Come on, you know those frozen bags of green beans sat in there for five months.
2. Store leftovers and pre-made meals in space-saving packages.
My favorite way to store leftovers and pre-made foods are in double-bagged Ziplock freezer bags. I fill them with soup, spaghetti, half a casserole, breakfast items, and sauces, then lay them flat in the freezer until solid. They take up so little space, they’re easy to stack, and you can flip through them like a Rolodex. (Don’t know what a Rolodex is? Get off your Mom’s computer, kiddo!)
3. Store by category.
In most drawer-style freezers, you’ve got four sections. A big drawer with two divided sections, and a slide out smaller drawer on top with two more divided sections. This is way different than the 5-6 shelves of space in your old side-by-side. Try to keep each “section” within one specific category. For my freezer, my four categories are Dinner, Breakfast, Sides, and Dessert. But you can do whatever works for your family.
4. Don’t be afraid to add baskets and bins.
You can pick up all kinds of sizes of plastic baskets from the dollar store for $1-$5 each, and they make such a huge difference! You can use them to store packages of meat upright, separate bags of veggies, and keep cheese and desserts from scattering all over the place. Just choose a sturdy plastic basket or container, and make sure it isn’t smushed in the freezer too tightly or it may crack. Give the bins just a tad of wiggle room.
5. You may end up having to invest in a secondary freezer.
Here’s the reality, my friend. If you are a serious home cook, or you stock up the month like the Pioneer Woman, this freezer just isn’t going to cut it. If you decide a secondary freezer in your pantry or garage is a necessity for you, you can save money by buying one secondhand from Facebook Community Sales Pages or Secondhand Appliance Stores.
Whether you choose an upright or chest-style, I highly recommend storing pre-prepped meals, bulk veggies and meats, and special occasion items in the secondary, while keeping your often-used items in your fridge’s freezer. Just be careful to rotate items after every grocery trip and try to use what you have before you shop for more to avoid overload.
A Note About Labeling
One extra tip for you, and it’s probably the most important of all. I know you already know the importance of labeling what each item is, and I won’t even start to preach on that. But you’re probably labeling with the date you popped that bad-boy casserole in the freezer, right? Can I suggest that you switch things up?
Instead of putting the prep date on the frozen casserole, meat, veggies, or leftover meal, put the ‘Use By’ date. You’d be surprised how many items are in your freezer that are beyond expired.
When I make an extra casserole or batch of spaghetti sauce or buy a bulk-sized pack of ground turkey, as I’m packing it up to freeze, I always shout out “Alexa, how long will cooked spaghetti sauce last in the freezer?” or “Alexa, how long does uncooked turkey last in the freezer?” She tells me a timeframe, then I ask her what the date of that timeframe is. (“Alexa, what date is three months from now?”) I pop that date on the package along with a detailed name of the item, and I put it in the freezer under any sooner dates.
Of course, you can look up all this info on your phone or computer, but usually I’ve got sauce all over my hands and my phone just happens to be nowhere near me, so I play the Lazy Girl card and just ask my Lady-In-The-Box. But you do whatever works for you. 🙂
I hope this is super helpful! I’m actually planning a full refrigerator organization blog post soon, so keep an eye out for even more tips!
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