The ONE Space I Never Organize!
So many people ask me if I have any spaces I don't organize, like a dirty secret area or a “Monica closet,” LOL! And the answer is…YES! This one thing might surprise you, but it's my freezer! I totally gave up on it about ten years ago. If you want to see my freezer situation and what I do instead of trying to organize it, keep reading or watch the video here! Sneak peek– I do still keep my freezer under control with a super useful inventory sheet that's part of our Kitchen Printable Pack here!
To be fair, at the time I gave up I had a tiny freezer on top of my fridge in an apartment. I just had to cram things in and hope they didn't fall out on my toe when I opened the door the next time.
However, now that I have a bigger fridge freezer plus a deep freezer and a basement freezer…yeah, it's still not any easier. I just find it impossible to keep organized, and here's why:
1. I don't always have the same things.
Our needs and tastes are always changing. Sometimes I try out a new product that catches my eye. Sometimes I stock up on deals I find, so I end up with a lot more than normal of any given item. We buy 1/4 of a cow every year. We have two kids that often eat different things than my husband and I. I also buy different brands. So a frozen pizza from one brand isn't in the same size box as another pizza. It's an organizational nightmare, LOL!
The point is, what I'm storing in the freezer is constantly changing. In the kitchen, we have the same dishes, so it's easy to designate space in cabinets where your needs never change. It's practically impossible in the freezer where the storage needs can change literally every day!
2. I have multiple freezers.
I totally think this makes it harder than when I had that tiny little fridge freezer. Now I have to keep track of which food is where, and sometimes I move things from one freezer to another.
Also, deep freezers are DEEP! There's no way around just stacking stuff and piling things on top of each other. No bins actually fit in freezers easily. The sizing between freezers is never consistent. Even if you use bins, you're going to have empty spaces where the bins fall short of the sides, etc., and that's just wasted space! Most of us can't afford to lose space in our freezers, so bins are just a no-go for me.
So what's the solution?!?
While I have given up on organizing the actual items in the freezer, I've not given up entirely. My solution has been to have an up-to-date freezer inventory! Looking at the inventory sheet shows me exactly what I have in which freezer, so at least when I go digging for something, I know it's there!
The inventory sheet helps so much:
- It helps me not waste food because nothing gets forgotten even though it may be buried at the bottom.
- If I know what I have, I can meal plan from it and actually use it!
- I know not only what's in there but how much of an item we have. I found out I had ten packages of sirloin steaks…guess what we've been eating?!?
- I literally HATE rummaging in the freezer, so now I “rummage” by looking at my inventory list!
- It's easy to keep up with. Just add to the inventory as you buy, and mark off things you use as you go. If you take just seconds to do this, you'll never have to do the inventory process again!
How to do a freezer inventory
This is not the fun part, but you have to pull everything out of all your freezers and write down every single item. You also have to work fast so things don't thaw! Not gonna lie– it's a ton of work! But it really is worth it to simplify your life a bit more. It makes dinner planning and prep SO much easier.
Toss what you know you won't eat. Now is not the time to beat yourself up for letting something expire or for buying the big Costco bag of something you don't actually like. The past is in the past, and you can't go back and change it. But you shouldn't just stick it back in the freezer to throw it away in five years! If you get your freezer inventories and pared down to food you'll actually use, it will help prevent future food waste, so that's a win!
As you write things down that you're keeping, put them back in the freezer. You can try to do a little bit of organization here– like veggies on the left, fruit on the right, etc., but don't stress! Really I just toss most things back in because I know it's hopeless for me, LOL!
How to keep up with your inventory
Now that you've done all this work, the key is to take the few seconds you need to update your list as you buy or as you use things. It really is simple, but you have to get into the habit. Also, if you are not the only one who cooks or eats things from the freezer, you really need to teach the other people in your house how to update the inventory. Otherwise you'll end up right back where you started!
Here's how I use my inventory sheets: I make one mark for the items I have. If I open a bag and stick a partial bag back in the freezer, I'll use a half line (it makes kind of a Y shape). Then when I finish off the box or bag, I'll finish out that line to make an X. Now I know I no longer have it.
Need more help? Check out our Kitchen Printable Pack!
I've always made printables based on what I myself needed, and these were a huge game changer for me in the kitchen! The kitchen kit includes:
- Pantry, Fridge, and Freezer Inventory Trackers (the same thing I was talking about above except for ALL your food!)
- Grocery Prices Chart
- Restaurant Menu
- School Lunch Planner
- Meal Planner
- Meal Prep Planner
- Water Tracker
- Weekly and Monthly Intake Trackers
- Meal and Glucose Trackers
- Entertaining Checklist
- Medication Tracker
- Grocery List
- Conversion Table
- Recipe Dividers
- Go-To Meals and Ingredients
- “When did I Last” Cleaning Chart
- AND MORE!
I use these trackers and planners to help me keep up with everything in the kitchen and to be sure my family is eating as healthfully as possible…you know, at least I try, LOL! And even though I've decided to embrace my completely unorganized freezer, this inventory sheet still keeps things under control!
How about you– do you have one area where you are just a complete mess like me?
I took my freezer inventory a couple steps further (for our smaller chest freezer) and quartered a piece of paper. I labeled each section with L Back, R Back, L Front, R Front. I then sectioned each quarter with Top, Middle and Bottom. It’s easy to know right away which part of the freezer to look in. I then cross off an item removed. Saves a lot of time searching for something! I initially did it by hand and then made an Excel template that I can update periodically. It also helps my husband who seems to be unable to find anything if it’s not right on top when he opens the door 🙂
Sam Drew Says
I use dry erase boards to keep track of my freezer contents. I haven’t been keeping up with it since we remodeled our kitchen but I’m hoping to get back in the groove soon.
Really like Jo’s comment. I started buying frozen fresh cat food and it is on
the top right and I have the checklist the company sends with the order. So…
this would be a great practice to start. Thank you Jo and Laura.
You are right, bins don’t work in a chest freezer. But I have found cloth shopping bags help alot. I put like items into six or seven of them, and then I can lift out sections to get at what I need. Meat in one, ice cream in one, veggies, bread…you get the idea. It gets unorganized, for sure, but it keeps my hands from freezing. I also do an inventory, but only sometimes. We also keeps lists with dry erase markers on the side of the fridge. Meals, and shopping lists like Target, Dollar Tree, Heinen’s, Trader Joes, CVS, Library…you get the idea.