Though at the time I did not time this clean-out purposely, it will be a huge help as I complete my January pantry-clean-out challenge! (Read the full details of the challenge here).
Anyone who has a large freezer knows that it can be hard to keep it organized. The freezer tends to accumulate random bits of meats and beans, half-cans of items, extras of meals we prepared previously, and somehow have forgotten it exists. Even if you already use a freezer to help prevent food waste, if you don’t know what is inside and it ends up freezer burned and in the trash 8 months later, that defeats your goal in the first place.
A regular freezer deep clean is a great way to keep in mind what you have, what you need, and how much space is still left. I have a bad habit of majorly stocking up on good sales, so that my freezer tends to always have very little space. This creates a jenga-effect, and also obscures my view of what is towards the back or the bottom. By cleaning it out & re-organizing at least every 6 months, I pull the things in the back towards the front, and remind myself of what needs cooked soon.
Step 1: The first step in cleaning out a freezer, whether standing or chest, is to pull out everything. Just make a big pile on the floor. I promise, in the few minutes it is out of the freezer everything will not thaw.
Step 2: Take this pile of food, and begin to organize it. For example, I put all meats on one side of the freezer, and all frozen veggies and fruits on the other side. You could categorize by the shape of the package, by ready-to-cook meals versus ingredients, whatever makes sense for you.
Step 3: Now look at your nice, empty freezer. Are there random puddles of frozen icky stuff? Are there a few loose peas rolling around? Now is the time to bust out the cleaning solution and a few rags, and scrub it up nice and clean. Starting fresh always feels great!
Step 4: Return everything back to the freezer, nicely organized. You can, if you have the time, write down all the contents prior to putting them back. Whether on paper or in a note on your phone or an email to yourself, having a list of everything can be SO helpful when you are meal planning later. Whether you do or don’t write it down, the final step is to put all the food back into the freezer in a more organized way.
And now sit back, relax, and enjoy the feeling of accomplishment!
These same steps can be applied to the refrigerator and the pantry as well. It is so helpful to go through this process once or twice a year at least, to keep fresh in your mind what types of foods and how much you have on hand. This way you can take advantage of sales as they happen, and keep your savings by using up the items you buy.
Going forward, it is helpful to have a permanent organization system. This will be different for each person/household/family based on what you eat and how often. Maybe you can keep a written notebook, where you cross out items as you use them each week. Or you could try a dry-erase board, where you add or remove items as you use them and re-stock. Or if you’re the digital type, you could have an online document that keeps a running list. Use whatever works for your style.
Do you have any freezer organizing tips or tricks? Please feel free to share in the comments!