This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure for more information.

Simple Ways Organize a Chest Freezer

Wondering how to organize a chest freezer so you can actually find what you need?

Chest freezers are a great way to save money on food but somehow things seem to get out of control real quick.

Before you know it, your freezer is filled to the brim and you have absolutely no idea what foods you have on hand, or if you do, you have to go on a fishing expedition just to find what you need. 

This is probably not what you envisioned when you bought it, right? 

Now, don’t get me wrong, there are many benefits to owning one, but if your freezer is a disorganized and cluttered mess, it’ll probably cost you more money on wasted food than it’ll save you. 

Unless, of course, you learn how to organize a chest freezer so you know what foods you have on hand and can actually find what you need when you need it.

What to do before organizing your chest freezer

Unlike organizing a pantry or kitchen cabinets, you need to make sure you are prepared before you dive into your bottomless freezer.

Mainly because you don’t want your food left out for too long so it starts to thaw making it susceptible to bacteria growth.

Some things you need to consider are…

How much food do you have on hand?
Does your freezer need defrosting and cleaning?
What type of organizers you’ll need?

How much food do you have on hand?

The first thing you’ll want to consider is how much food you have on hand. If your freezer is filled to the brim, it’s going to be really difficult to get it organized in a way that makes finding food easier.

Before tackling organizing your chest freezer, you’ll probably want to eat up some of what you have first. A good way to do this is to do a pantry challenge

If you’ve never done a pantry challenge, it’s when you commit to not buying groceries for a specific amount of time, usually a month, and meal plan around what you have on hand in your pantry, fridge, and freezers.

>>> Learn how to do the pantry challenge here.

Defrosting and Cleaning your Chest Freezer

If your freezer has frost build-up then you are going to want to take the time to defrost it since frost hinders the efficiency of your freezer.

Simply empty the contents of your freezer and put your food in cold storage, like your refrigerator or a large chest cooler filled with ice, to keep it from defrosting

Next, turn off your freezer to let the frost melt, you can speed up the process by pouring some warm water over the surrounding walls.

Once the frost is gone, you’ll need to empty the water out, most freezers have a plug on the bottom to make it easy to do, but if not, you could always use a wet vac if you have one handy.

What type of organizers will you need?

Lastly, you’ll want to think about how you are going to organize your chest freezer so you can gather what you need before you get started. Here are some of the basics to get your chest freezer organized.

Chest freezer organizers

Freezer Baskets

Binder Clips

Freezer Labels

Food Vacuum Sealer

Plastic Bins

How to organize a chest freezer

There are many ways to organize a chest freezer and it’s really a personal preference on how you do it, as long as it works for your situation.

Here are some ideas I gathered from around the web to give you ideas on how to get your freezer organized.

Categorize your frozen foods

Organize your chest freezer by grouping similar items together

 

The first thing you’ll want to do after you’ve defrosted and cleaned your small freezer is to categorize or group like items together similar to how I Heart Organization did. 

For example, you might want to group all frozen fruit and veggies together, group your meat stockpile in another group, and another category for frozen snacks like homemade popsicles and ice cream.

There is no right or wrong way to do this, as long as it makes sense to your needs and it makes things easy to find.

Organize your chest freezer with Dollar Tree bins

 

Organize a chest freezer with baskets

@ Practically Functional

Next, you’ll want to keep your food categories separated and grouped together when placing them back into your freezer.

There are many ways to do this, the most popular by far is using plastic bins which you can find for cheap at any dollar store.

There are also some great plastic storage bin options on Amazon too if you don’t have a dollar store where you live.

>>> More great Dollar Tree DIY ideas

Organize a chest freezer with recyclable shopping bags

Use recycable grocery bags to organize a chest freezer

 

Like using bins, recyclable shopping bags are a great and cheap option to keep your food categorized and organized in your chest freezer.

As seen in the image above, If You Do Stuff does a great job at keeping her food stockpile in order by placing chicken, beef, and pork in separate bags so she can easily find what she needs.

Lable where everything goes

Label your freezer sections to make things easy to find

@ Time with Thea

Once you have your food placed in bins or bags (cardboard boxes work too) label them so everyone knows what goes where and to make finding what you need easier.

Use binder clips to hang bags

Hang bags from the wire chest freezer basket with binder clips

 

I absolutely love this idea of hanging smaller bags of food to your chest freezers wire basket from Fabulous Organization.

It’s such a simple idea of using binder clips to hang plastic bags but is totally genius because it utilizes space in your freezer that would typically be unusable.

Store food in clear bags

Use clear storage bags to organize food

@ .Savory Seasonings

Another way to make finding what you need in your freezer is by using clear bags so you can see exactly what you have on hand.

To keep your food visible while saving precious space, and last longer, you might want to consider using a food vacuum sealer like I do. It’s really been a game-changer in keeping my chest freezer organized.

Use food storage labels

Lable food to keep your chest freezer organized

If you have meal prepped food in your freezer, it’s a good idea to label your meals so you know what recipe they are, how long they’ll stay freshest, as well as cooking instructions.

These editable labels I found on Money Saving Mom are perfect to do just that. You can also find some meal prep labels on Amazon for pretty cheap too so you don’t have to print them at home.

Create custom shelves

DIY shelves to organize a chest freezer

 

I found this fun idea for making custom shelves out of magazine holders at Aunt Peaches.

She uses this trick to make custom shelves in her upright freezer but there’s nothing to say you can’t do the same in a chest freezer.

Keep small items visible

Keep smaller items visible in your chest freezer

 

Keeping everything visible is the name of the game when organizing a chest freezer, even the smallest items, which is why I love these magnetic containers by Tator Tots and Jello.

You can use the same technique with different sized containers to fit your needs and utilize every inch of your chest freezer walls.

 

Tips to keep your chest freezer organized

 

Rotate your chest freezer inventory

When restocking your chest freezer, it’s a good idea to rotate your food so you never let anything go bad.

Simply place the fresher foods you just bought on the bottom of your bins or bags.

Track your freezer inventory

Even when your chest freezer is organized it can be difficult to remember everything that you have on hand which is why it’s a good idea to track your freezer inventory.

There are many ways to do this, you can use printable freezer inventory tracking sheets, or this brilliant chalkboard freezer inventory tracking idea I found on Stuff Parents Need.  

She uses chalkboard contact paper which sticks right to your freezer but can also be removed without any damage.

 

Track your chest freezer inventory to keep it organized

Get rid of over-sized boxes

Lastly, you’ll want to get rid of any over-sized food boxes that take up way to much space in your freezer.

Instead place the food in a plastic bag, if it’s not already in one, and hang the bags in your wire basket with binder clips (as shown above) to make them easy to find.

Create an eat this first section

Create an area of food that needs to be eaten soon in your chest freezer to prevent having to throw it in the trash.

As you know, food has a shelf life even when frozen (you can find a food storage chart below) which is why it’s a good idea to label everything with a “use by” date. 

How long does frozen food stay good?

As you know, food can stay good for quite a long time when frozen, but there are some guidelines you should follow to make sure your food quality at it’s best.

Below is a chart of how long food stays good when frozen provided by FoodSafety.gov, use this to label your food with the “use by” date when storing your groceries in the freezer.

 

 Freezer storage time guidelines

@ Real Mom Nutrition

How to organize a chest freezer conclusion

Is it time for you to organize your chest freezer? If so you’ll probably want to add it to your to-do list. You’ll be so much happier when you don’t have to spend 15 minutes trying to find what you need to make dinner tonight!

And I’m sure you’ll save money at the grocery store too. I just tackled mine a few days ago and realized I had 4 large packages of chicken, a 9-pound salmon I totally forgot about,  and at least 5 bags of shrimp that I need to use up soon…

Time to head on over to Pinterest to find some shrimp recipes!!!

If you’re feeling motivated to get your home in order here are more ideas to get organized

How to organize a pantry 

Best planners for Moms to get and stay organized

How to organize a small bedroom

DIY family command center ideas

Do you have any other tips to organize a chest freezer? Please leave a comment below so we can try it out!!

How to organize a chest freezer