Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Organizing the freezer

Several months ago, I wrote a post describing how I organize our pantry. It's been a really popular post, especially for those who loved my old pantry.

As I was organizing our new pantry, I organized our new freezer, and this idea got lost in the pantry post, so I decided it was time to give it its own post. 

In our old house, we had a small chest freezer. As we continue our journey to eating more and more whole and local foods, we've come to see the value of having a large freezer. Our new pantry was designed to hold a large, stand-up freezer. (We selected a Frigidaire FKFH21F7HW.) We use our freezer primarily for local meat, extra veggies, spices, and other staples we buy in bulk. Now that I make  dairy-free bread for our son, we often keep a couple loaves in there as well.

We chose a flat front freezer, rather than textured one, so I can use it as a dry erase board for inventory. I used foam letters similar to these to label the items that I always want to have on hand, and simply write the names of things that fluctuate.  (I now have a Silhouette, and once I learn how to use it, I will make vinyl labels when I update this project). I keep a different colored dry erase markers on the frig to make updates as I take items out. 

Here's a close up of the "meat" section of my inventory.

I also note the last time I did a physical inventory, just in case I happen to get off track.

Inside, I use Target's weave baskets to organize everything. I was using white Sterlite baskets before, but these hold a lot more and make better use of safe. Fun fact: 40 pounds of chicken can be contained in two baskets.

When we buy chicken, we immediately trim it and put it into ziploc bags that are labeled with the date and weight. I used to have trouble with the bags sticking together...until I had the brilliant idea to put a piece of wax paper between each layer. No more sticky chicken!

I used more foam stickers to label each basket.  Helpful hint: the letters stick much better to baskets that are at room temperature than frozen!

The top shelf has vegetables and dairy-free treats for our son. A friend shared the trick of making up safe cupcakes in advance to bring to parties and school events. Whenever he has a special day, I take out a cupcake and let it thaw overnight. In the morning, I frost it with safe nutella and add sprinkles. 

The next shelf holds our beef. We don't eat a lot of beef. We buy 15 pounds of ground beef and 10 pounds of beef cuts from a local farmer every few months.

The next shelf holds our 40 pound chicken buys. This will last us about four months. The baskets are just the right width that I can store my homemade bread in between them.

Under the chicken baskets, we have a drawer that I use to store chopped fruit and veggies. In this case, cabbage that I got at a great deal. (We like to buy up cabbage to make bubble & squeak). Behind the cabbage, we have some frozen bananas.

The next shelf holds sausage and pork. We really like chicken sausage and apple sausage, but we occasionally also get pork chops and bacon. The "misc." basket holds the leftover items. 

The bottom drawer holds our ice cream maker so it is always frozen and ready to go, extra Minty Morroccan tea that my in-laws sent me from the Netherlands because we can't find it in the States, and more leftover staples. 

The door of the pantry holds extra spices and staples. We shop at a bulk store, so we have lots of little bags and containers.

The place where we buy most of our groceries sells spices for a great price. The containers stack up very nicely.

When I buy a spice, I write the date on the container. Since I cook most meals from scratch and make my own spice blends, I find that I rotate through most containers every three to four months.

I keep my spices in a drawer under the cooktop. Cleaning out the freezer gave me a good excuse to top off all the containers.

We don't keep a lot of dairy in the house, but we do keep chocolate mints to put on the pillows of our overnight guests. The other items are dairy substitutes for baking and making ice cream. 

On the side of the freezer, I have this picture of what the pantry will look like someday. 

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  1. Hi Jen,
    I found your blog through Org Junkie's favourite links party and I am loving all the great organizing posts! I look forward to getting to know you and reading more :)

    1. Welcome! I'm so glad you stopped by! I love the name of your blog!

  2. How great!! I love me some organization! ;-) I love how you can use a dry erase marker on your freezer... Mine is a chest - but it's also textured.

    Thanks for linking up with us at the Pinterest Power Party - this post will be featured on tomorrow's party - be sure to stop by and grab a "featured" button and link up with us again if you want! =)

    Have a great week!!

    1. Thank you so much! I'm a new follower to your blog, but as a newly addicted seamstress, I couldn't help but start stalking you! :-)

      Before we bought this freezer, we had a textured chest freezer. I had a little dry erase board that I hung behind the freezer to keep track of my inventory. Maybe that will work for you?

  3. Wow...this is impressive on so many levels. I need you to come by and give our fridge a revamping. Wait a minute. That might actually be a possibility! ;-) Just kidding. I wouldn't actually lump my organization projects on you, but I'll definitely be referring to this post in the future. I like the idea of keeping an inventory of your items...we could definitely use that with veggies. I find that I lose track of what is buried at the bottom of the drawer and too often, I uncover veggies that have gone bad from not being used fast enough. Eek! (And I hate wasting food.) Thanks for the inspiration!

    1. lol...we may have to use your frig as a guinea pig! Actually, I just read a tip (thank you, Pinterest!) about putting a kitchen towel on the bottom of your produce drawer, and taking all the produce out of the bag from the store. The towel absorbs moisture and keeps the produce fresher longer.


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