4 Tips To Help You Organize And Make The Most Of Your Chest Freezer

Chest freezers can be a great addition to your kitchen. They provide the space and flexibility to store those buy-in-bulk offers, and if you cook regularly and have a family, they can be invaluable. Bon Appetit says that they reduce the number of times you visit the store thus saving money and time.

Ourr Home & Appliances states that owning a chest freezer has many benefits: They are capable of keeping food frozen in the event of a power outage, they have roughly 20 percent more space than stand-up freezers (due to lack of shelving,) and they are less likely to cause freezer burn. On the downside, they are very difficult to organize and you often end up having to unpack your freezer just to find one item. So if you own a chest freezer — how can you keep it organized, and make the most of the space it offers?

Declutter and label

To start, you need to do a thorough cleaning. Get everything out of the freezer and get rid of anything that has been frozen for too long, or is past its sell-by date. Then, for anything that needs to be used soon, plan some meals to get these items used up as soon as possible.

Which also suggests decanting everything you possibly can out of bulky cardboard boxes and putting them into freezer bags that are clearly labeled with the name of the item and the date. Anything that is in its own bag, write directly onto the packaging. This helps to create even more space in your freezer and make the most of it. In addition, Lifehacker suggests keeping a pen inside your freezer specifically for this purpose, but not all pens are suitable for keeping at sub-zero temperatures. They suggest a good quality permanent marker, as cheaper pens don't tend to work for long.

Storage solutions

There are a ton of different types of freezer storage boxes that you can buy, and they all have their perks, notes Thriving Home. Some baskets have handles for ease of use or baskets that have a lip that fits directly onto the edge of the freezer to keep items that are used regularly at the top and close to hand.

According to The Mama Pirate, if you are handy, you could add some compartments yourself. You will need; cardboard, cling film, and foil. Create the shape you need, whether it's dividing the whole chest freezer in half, widthways or lengthways, or forming boxes to hold frozen goods, then cover the cardboard with clingfilm to stop the cardboard from going soggy with the ice crystals, then cover that with tin foil. If you are good with DIY you could even make more sturdy versions from plywood.

Having different compartments inside your chest freezer to divide up your frozen goods into sections such as; meat, fruit, vegetables, desserts, and sweets can help to keep the organization side of things running smoothly.

Make an inventory

Knowing exactly what is inside your freezer and where to find things will be a huge help when planning meals or writing a shopping list. It also helps to stop overbuying items and prevents food from ending up in the bin.

Good Cheap Eats has a few suggestions when it comes to taking stock of your freezer. There are apps you can install onto your phone or tablet that keep track of your frozen goods, or if you prefer the old-fashioned way, you can attach a magnetic dry eraser board onto your freezer and keep it updated with the contents. If you have a white chest freezer you could also write directly onto the door with a whiteboard marker, just check first in a small, inconspicuous area that the pen will wipe off. There are notebooks for taking stock of all your freezer items or there are printable freezer inventory sheets online, like this one from Cook At Home Mom.

Defrosting your freezer

Chest freezers don't have an auto defrost function and layers of ice can shrink the interior of your chest freezer making it less roomy. So, to keep your valuable space — and your freezer working at its best — it is recommended that you defrost your freezer every 6 to 12 months, or when the ice becomes more than a quarter of an inch in thickness, says For Freezing.

It takes 24 hours to defrost a chest freezer, but there are lots of methods to speed this up. You can put bowls of boiling water inside the freezer, or soak towels in hot water and lay them over the ice. After your freezer is fully defrosted, it can take between 4-12 hours for it to be ready to put food back in. One way to check if the temperature is right is to place an ice cube tray full of water in the freezer, check it regularly, and once it's frozen, the freezer is ready to use.