The Freezer Cure Week 2: Organize Your Freezer

The Freezer Cure Week 2: Organize Your Freezer

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Cambria Bold
Feb 14, 2015
(Image credit: The Kitchn)

Your freezer could soon look like this! (See more at I Heart Organizing)
(Image credit: I Heart Organizing)

The Freezer Cure Week 2: Saturday, February 14
Assignment: Now that you've cleaned out your freezer, devise a strategy or system to organize what's left. Buy new containers if need be.
Sign Up: Sign up here for The Freezer Cure

Happy Valentine's Day! If you've been on the outs with your freezer, today is the day you're going to kiss and make up. After today there will be no more secrets between you, no more mysteries, no more lies. When you thaw a package labeled "taco meat" you will discover it is taco meat. When you reach into a container for frozen fruit, you will find that, yes, it contains frozen fruit. After today, unlike U2, you will always find what you're looking for.

After today you will know — truly know! — your freezer, in a deep-down, deep-freeze kind of way. You both deserve a second chance at love, so let's get started.

(Image credit: Faith Durand)

Freezer Cure Assignment Week 2

Estimated time: 2 hours

1. Say yes to organizers.

An organized freezer starts with containers. The best way to get your freezer in order is to divide your frozen foods by type into smaller, labeled boxes or baskets. What containers you use depends on the size and type of your freezer, and whether you'd rather spend a little money or just make do with what you already have. Either way is fine! As Jessica wrote in her post earlier this week, "I know some folks simply line the bottom of their [chest] freezers with paper sacks from the grocery store. That's a practically free organizing tool!"

The more common option is to go with plastic crates or baskets (like this or this, and as shown in the photo slideshow above). They're relatively cheap, easy to wash and disinfect, and can be found in a variety of sizes at most big box stores like Target, Home Depot, and The Container Store, or online at Amazon or OrganizeIt.com.

TIP: If you're planning to buy new organizers, make sure to measure your freezer first to determine the right size container to get. You don't want to stock up on organizers only to realize later that they're too deep, tall, or wide.

2. Map out your planned storage categories.

Now that you've decided on your freezer containers, write down the planned storage categories, which will determine how many containers you need to purchase or acquire. This will vary depending on the cook. You might decide you definitely want individual organizers for fruit, vegetables, meat, and fish (because you mostly stock up on those staples), while your friend — who always doubles every recipe she cooks so she has leftovers — finds it more convenient to compartmentalize her freezer into breakfast foods, lunches, and quick dinners.

When mapping out your freezer, you should think about two things: what you currently freeze, and what you'd like to start freezing — so, your ideal freezer. (If you build it, they will come!) If you want to start freezing big batches of soup, or you want quick, prepared frozen staples like cooked rice, grains, or beans around, make sure to note you need a labeled organizer for that.

3. Label those organizers! (Go on, you know you want to!)

Pull out that label maker or laminator! There's no point in getting freezer organizers unless they have clear, easy-to-read labels that'll make your life easier. Take a look back at the list of storage categories you made above, and assign a label to each bin, basket, or container you're planning to put in the freezer.

TIP: Consider color-coding your labels. Our freezer expert, Jessica Fisher, recommends color-coding your labels in a way that makes it easy to locate the thing you need. For example: red for meat, white for poultry, and pink for fish. Once again, think about what is most likely to end up in your freezer and assign color codes that work for you. If you often freeze odds and ends for stock (vegetables, cheese rinds, chicken bones) you may want a colored label specifically for homemade stock ingredients.

4. Unload your freezer (again).

We know, we know. You already unloaded your freezer once last week to clean it out. We promise this is the last time we'll ask you to do it this Cure, so go on and take everything out of the freezer. Put like food items with like items on your countertop.

5. Should anything be repackaged? Do it now.

The correct packaging is not only important to make the most of your freezer organizers and available freezer space, but also to compliment your cooking habits.

As Jessica wrote, "How you package your food for freezing depends on what kind of room you have in the freezer, how you plan to use the food, and how you want to reheat it later. If you'll be packing it for work, a plastic or glass serving container with a lid will do. If you want to serve it for dinner for four, choose a larger, lidded container. If space in your freezer is at a premium, consider zip-top freezer bags for the most economical use of freezer real estate."

Of course, even if you want to repackage something — put it in a flat-pack freezer bag, for example, instead of the glass container it's in — that might prove difficult given the food is, well, frozen. Don't stress about it. Just do what you can, stock up on new packaging if you need to, and make a note of any changes you want to make next time around.

6. Should anything be labeled? Do it now.

Before you replace your food in the freezer, make sure everything that isn't commercially packaged has a label on it that includes a name, date, amount, and serving instructions (optional). You can do this with a Sharpie or a dry-erase crayon; you can use masking tape or painter's tape; you can even print out special freezer labels. However you choose to do it, label all food now and forever. It is the only way to true freezer happiness.

Get all the details → How I Label Food for the Freezer

7. Separate the food into organizers, and put it all back in the freezer.

Congratulations! You've done the hard work of arranging and setting up a freezer system that can work for you. Whatever food you haven't eaten up by now should be labeled and ready to go back into the freezer in a designated organizer or area. Update your freezer inventory as needed, and enjoy the rest of the holiday!

#freezercure

We want to see your newly organized freezer! Post it to your Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, or Facebook account and use the hashtag #freezercure

Come back next weekend!

That's it for this week. We're halfway through the Freezer Cure! Next week we'll stock the freezer with our favorite, must-have freezer foods, so don't miss it!

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