Kitchen Organisation: Freezer

When I was a kid, mum had an enormous chest freezer. I have strong memories of being asked to go and fetch something and having to move half the contents around in order to find something right at the bottom, not to mention my fear of falling in and freezing to death!

So we don’t have a chest freezer.

Instead, we have an under-counter fridge (with no space wasted with tiny box freezer compartment) and a separate upright freezer with drawers. It’s fairly old now, but – touch wood – it’s still working fine.

The main challenge over the years has been to remember what we have in it, and which drawer everything is in.

Previously, we’d periodically take everything out into cool boxes and re-sort the contents back into themed drawers, one for meat, one for frozen ingredients such as vegetables and stock, another for frozen meals… but the problem was that, over time, new items were inevitably shoved in wherever we could find space, items were moved around and the system fell apart.

This is what I came up with a few years ago:

Our solution

  • Fix a large sheet of sticky-back white board to the front of the freezer. This is not expensive, and available from stationery suppliers.
  • Draw lines to divide the white board into drawers, as per your freezer unit.
  • Use a white board pen to write down everything that goes into the freezer, in the space for the relevant drawer.
  • Whenever you take something out to use, rub it off the board.
  • If you move something to make space for something else, update the board with its new drawer location.
  • If an item has a short freezer life, add the date you put it into the freezer.
  • Regularly scan the list so you can make plans to use up older items, and avoid buying items you already have.

Freezer-1138

It might not be the most attractive appliance, but our kitchen wouldn’t be featured in any home design magazine anyway! And it works very well for us.

What do you think?

Do you have any tips to share for better kitchen organisation?

 

Note: I wrote this post a couple of weeks ago, and it’s been sitting in the scheduled posts queue since then. Some of you will have seen my anguished tweets a couple of days ago when we returned home from a couple of days in Kent to discover that our freezer was switched off. (One of us must have knocked the power switch, accidentally). Having the information on the front allowed us to more quickly check the status of the contents without keeping the freezer open very long. We discovered that the top shelf and the lower two drawers, both less densely packed, had suffered most but that the contents of the meat drawer, chock full and with other drawers above and below, were still frozen solid.

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38 Comments to "Kitchen Organisation: Freezer"

  1. Mamta

    I didn’t know you were scared of our big freezer!! You poor baby, why didn’t you ever say?
    We got rid of it years ago. Now I have 2 upright ones; one is the left half of an upright fridge freezer and another separate one, which has all pull out drawers. There is another one in the garage, our old one, to be used when we have extra guests staying or before a party.
    To be honest, a lot of my space is taken because I keep all my extra spices, nuts, dry fruits etc, in the freezer. They are in pull out drawers. I store things mostly in plastic bottles rescued from various kitchen things I buy (I don’t throw away and jars etc) and the labels are on top of the lid, so I can see them without pulling out. The other shelf one is never so full that I can not see what is there.
    Kav, I am impressed by you labelling system, wow!
    Do you remember; when we lived in Truro Gardens, I accidentally switched off our freezer (it was lower half our then fridge-freezer) before we went away on a holiday? All the meat defrosted! Our cleaning lady came a couple of days before our return and was scared to death, there was blood everywhere in the kitchen and it smelt! She thought pops had done me in LOL!! She ran out screaming to Eve’s across the road, who then had to call out the council health department to sort it all out! By the time we came back, it was all quiet and clean!

    Reply
    kaveyeats

    Haaa, ma I’m sure I told you at the time but you probably thought I was making excuses! These are the ways of mums and children, no?!

    And ha ha ha haaaaaaaaaaaaaa no I don’t remember the freezer story but killing myself laughing at the idea of the cleaning lady screaming that Pop had killed you, cut you up and stuffed you into the freezer! That’s BRILLIANT!

    Reply
    kaveyeats

    PS mum you’ve seen our freezer with this on the front many many times, it’s been on the freezer for a good few years now!!!

    Reply
  2. Jo Romero

    Great idea, Kavey! We had a big chest freezer in our hallway when I was little except it was just full of 80s processed foods like Rounders and Findus Crispy Pancakes! And to me, it seemed bottomless. I try and freeze foods to use – rather than what my parents did and just shove it all in there and think they’ll use it ‘one day’. Meanwhile, they’d be foods they didn’t eat for years still in there. So I’ll freeze half a joint of meat for example and plan it into my meals for the following week. Your labelling system is a great idea because it’s so difficult sometimes to see what you’ve got when it’s all stacked up in icy blocks!

    Reply
    kaveyeats

    We do sometimes leave stuff in ours too long, and occasionally something will still get thrown out once we admit to ourselves we’re never going to use it, but we do try and keep a regular eye on the contents so we can keep on top of it!

    Reply
  3. Pete @ Bookatable

    Brilliant idea! I understand what you mean about being frightened by the chest freezer. When I was much younger the only room that had space to fit it in was my bedroom. Many an early morning mum would stroll into my room waking me up as she rummaged around the deep freezer looking to defrost a chicken for the evening meal. My friends thought it was ‘cool’ (excuse the pun) because I could have ice-cream whenever I wanted, but I was more freaked out by the noise it was making! Great post again Kavey, you’ve really evoked some funny memories for me this Monday morning.

    Reply
    kaveyeats

    Oh my, I’ve not heard of a freezer in the bedroom. I totally would have given in to the ice cream urge!!

    Reply
  4. aoife @ the gannet

    I always end up cooking for an imaginary 6 rather than 2, so always want to freeze the leftovers for another day as we get bored of eating the same thing for a few days – even when stretching the ‘use by’ rules. Totally need a bigger freezer (we don’t have room) and am very impressed at the labelling! Gonna nick the whiteboard for the fridge anyay…even if mainly for silly messages…

    Reply
  5. steve lamond

    love that there’s a hops drawer! My freezer is never so full that I need to label what’s in it, and part of the fun is pulling out something at random for dinner!

    Reply
  6. kaveyeats

    Of course, it ain’t attractive, so probably out for those with classy and pretty kitchens but it works really well for us!

    Reply
  7. kaveyeats

    GREAT point… as a childless adult, this is not something I have to factor in but probably makes this idea unsuitable for anyone with younger kids. I would imagine older kids will understand where they can and cannot squiggle, as they do for regular walls in the house and so on?

    Reply
  8. kaveyeats

    They’re sitting on a shallow shelf, shall take a photo sometime.
    They are sort of grouped, European herbs and spices, Indian spices and so on.

    Reply
  9. Gary

    This is genius. I wouldn’t do it to the one in the kitchen but for the overflow freezer in the garage it’s perfect. Thanks for the idea!

    Reply
  10. meemalee

    I have a larder freezer like you, Kavey – I try to separate by type eg meat, fish, veg, sweet but I lapse a lot.

    I’d love to have the willpower to do this, but am afraid it would last about a week πŸ˜‰

    Reply
    kaveyeats

    Actually, we find this much easier to keep up than any other way as it’s a few seconds job to update as we put things in and take them out. And it’s right there. πŸ™‚

    Reply
  11. The Grubworm

    This is a great idea. I’m no wondering just hw much organising joy I can get with this little method (I am a chronic procrastinator prone to re-organising things as deadlines approach). Can arrange food by taste, maybe colour or (chilli) heat. So much fun beckons!

    Reply
    kaveyeats

    I love that I have started a process which I just KNOW you’ll take so much further. Want to see a photo of the finished, colour-coded result! πŸ™‚

    Reply
  12. Anne

    I have a tiny half share of a freezer above the fridge but still forget what’s in there at times! I used to have a sheet stuck to the side of it but now keep a spreadsheet on pc with what has gone in as the sheet got quickly tatty. Saying that I do occasionally find the odd ufo when I’ve been in a hurry and think to myself I will remember what it is….

    Reply
    kaveyeats

    Yes, I know that feeling. We had a paper list for a while, but got tatty or lost. Spreadsheet wouldn’t work for us as relies on updating it at separate point in time from putting in or taking out items!

    Reply
  13. miss mouse

    This is wonderful Kavey, it appeals to my desperate quest to establish order, oh if only other household members could be relied upon to co-operate. I know what you mean about chest freezers, scary things indeed.

    Reply
  14. Carla

    Ah, the jealousy that is eating me up at the sight of your big freezer and labeling solution! I now only have a tiny drawer inside an under the counter fridge (my new kitchen is tiny!) so I guessed labeling would not be needed – WRONG!
    I found in there this weekend stuff I bought back in June and I had completely forgotten about. Guess it doesn’t go away no matter how small the freezer is πŸ™‚

    Reply
    Kavey

    Yeah, even in one single drawer of ours, which is probably about the size of the freezer box within your fridge, we can squeeze quite a lot in. And as we’re senile, we just never remember what’s in there, without some help!!!

    Reply
  15. Isabel

    This is such an organized way to keep track of what’s in the freezer! What a great idea. My freezer is in rough shape right now. I am trying to eat what’s in it so I can defrost it and start from scratch.

    Reply
    kaveyeats

    Aah yes, the freezer eating marathon! Good luck and hope you can implement this going forward!

    Reply
  16. Kristy C

    I just saw the idea and love it. However, I disagree that it would not work with children. It wouldn’t work as originally intended, but I think it would make a great drawing surface for kids. It would be a grea way to keep them busy while you fix dinner. And it would easily cover up a less than attractive fridge!

    Reply
  17. Dido

    Hi Kaveyeats! I’ve linked here from the Guardian. Where on earth does one get a ‘ large sheet of sticky back white board’ from? Is that what one types into a search engine? I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything even resembling it anywhere. The nearest was a whiteboard/magnet noticeboard in a frame from Ikea some years ago. Is an office supply supermarket the first port of call? I have a fridgefreezer and my current one was bought in a rush in a sale. What I have noticed is newer freezers have much thicker walls to enable better insulation and therefore using less electricity.

    This is fine and dandy but it results in LESS SPACE. Quite a lot in the case of my Bosch. No more attempts at batch cooking my low carb meals. It’s all odds and sods now and jammed solid. If you are replacing a freezer don’t just go by the outside dimensions and think you are buying like-for-like. You must take note of the cubic capacity and look for that.

    Reply
    kaveyeats

    Hi Dido

    If you search on Google for “white board adhesive sheet” or “whiteboard roll” and you’ll find it readily available. I can see it on Amazon and Ebay as well as others.

    Good luck and let me know how you get on.

    Reply
  18. Linn

    Hi,
    I am from Sweden and have a small blog where I have written about fridge- and freezer organization.
    I have borrowed this picture from you and linked to your blog so you can get the credit you deserve.

    I hope this is okey, if not, please let me know and I will of course delete it!

    Thanks for a great blog!

    Here is i link so you can see what I have written about your blog.
    http://linnidag.blogspot.se/2013/04/fixa-frysforvaringen.html
    Best Regards

    Linn

    Reply

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