How to Fit twice as much into your freezer.
Organizing week continues!

Flat-soups

 

 

People are always asking me how I get so much done.  Part of it is because doing things is literally my job, but mainly it’s because I’m a doer.  I like to start, do and finish things.  That makes me a doer.  The thinkers among you are way smarter than me, way more insightful, and would probably do a far better job at all of the things I do … if you could ever stop thinking and actually start doing.  But you don’t.

Then there are the starters.  The people who like to start a job to see how it’s going to look or work and once they’ve done just enough to see that … they stop.  These are the people living in homes with one strip of wallpaper on the wall, one refinished floor board and an exercise bra that’s been exercised in exactly once.

But there’s one other small way I get things done.  By taking the time to organize shit.  When I redid my entire house on a whim my whole life got easier. I knew where things were, I knew when I was running out of toilet paper and when someone wanted to borrow a book I could shoot my arm out like a Jack-in-the Box and pull it back with that book in my hand.  This kind of organization takes time, a lot of time, to do, but in the end it saves you even more time.  And it honestly does. It’s not like when people say installing new windows will save you money in the long run.  It won’t.  The long run would have to be 250 years long for you to save the money those windows cost.  You will be warmer in the winter and have a better view of your neighbours fighting though, so it’s still kind of worth it.

When I redid my kitchen I also redid my mudroom, which I’ve never shown you.  What I did was remove the pantry from my old kitchen and dragged it into my mudroom.  My neighbour who helped me pull it out in one piece thought I was crazy.  Maybe I am. But the pantry idea isn’t proof of that.

I then trimmed the pantry in and built some shelves to the left of it and framed them in along with my upright freezer.  Add a door to cover up the freezer, paint everything the same colour and BOOM you have a good lookingish mudroom for barely any money.

Wait. That wasn’t the point of this post at all.  The point of this post was how to get twice as much stuff into your freezer.  O.K.  Let’s talk about that.

 

Pantry-in-Mudroom

 

But before we do take a look to the right and see the one thing that really improved my mudroom. It’s a shoe closet from Ikea.    I’ve wanted it for years now but could never be bothered to actually go to Ikea, drag it off of their warehouse shelf and bring it home.  Just before Christmas I had enough time to do that.  I had enough time because I took the Christmas Pledge by the way.

 

 

Mudroom

 

So now that my mudroom was lookin’ so organized it was time to REALLY organize my freezer.  This is my freezer “before” shot.  I know.  It looks pretty organized already right?

 

Freezer-Before-2

 

But here’s the thing.  Take a look at the photo again.  LOOK at all the empty space.  Everywhere there’s emptiness is a spot that actual food could be stored.  I’d sometimes try to compensate for that by piling food up higher and higher in the containers.  It was always a crapshoot as to whether a falling filet or a bag of perogies would be the thing to break a toe when I opened the freezer.

When I was up to 9 mini-marshmallow sized casts on my toes I started to look for better containers for my freezer.  Ones that would take better advantage of the space and let me fill up the rest of my freezer.  No joke, it took months to find the right sized containers.  And these still aren’t exactly right.  For them to be MOST efficient they should have straight sides so there are no gaps in between them, but I gave up on finding straight containers that were also the right size in terms of width, depth and height.

Behold the Organized Freezer 2.0.

 

freezer

 

Putting all the food into better sized storage containers has done 2 things.  It’s used up almost all of the available space in the freezer, but even more importantly it allows me to see exactly what is in every inch of the freezer.  The containers are clear and they’re labelled.  Anyone who has ever owned a chest freezer knows what happens when you can’t see what’s in your freezer.  7 year old containers of weird gummy goo that used to be ice cream.  That’s what happens.

A disorganized freezer means there is ice cream in this world you are being deprived of eating.

Stop this craziness now.

 

Top-of-freezer

 

Just by using these new containers (which I got on sale for $1.49 each) I’ve increased the amount I can fit into the freezer by almost double.

Add in this next tip and you’ll love your freezer so much friends will think you met on Tinder.  Because Tinder is all about love.

 

FREEZE IT FLAT

flat-soups-2

 

If you can freeze it flat in a baggie, DO IT.  Soups, stews, gravy, sauces, broth … anything that doesn’t have big bones sticking out of it can be frozen flat.  Just pour whatever it is into a baggie, lay it flat in the freezer (putting it on a plate or baking sheets helps keep it really flat) until it’s solid and then stack them.  Freezing everything flat will gain you all kinds of space in your freezer.

Plus it makes things easy to flip through and when it’s time to use it, flat baggies defrost quicker.

That’s really all there is to gaining a ton of space in the abyss you call your freezer.

1.  Store everything in clear containers that use all of the available space in the freezer.

2.  Label the containers so you can find everything easily.

3.  Freeze it flat.

 

Sound good?  Now stop thinking about it and just do it.  (Nike really has something there with that phrase).  And once you start doing it, finish it.  That’s all there is to getting stuff done.

Well that and a little bit of crazy.

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140 Comments

  1. Anne says:

    Only one good thing about chest freezers. Well, two actually. When you (read ‘I’) finally got around to defrosting and cleaning ours, I had enough frozen fruit to take to our local McBarley’s and have a batch of very nice wine made! And the chickens loved the freezer-burned veggies that I so carefully froze who-knows-when. I definitely need one of those “what’s in your freezer”lists. However, the frozen cooked bacon bits and frozen mushrooms made a darn nice lunch!

  2. Kristina says:

    Love the organization. I am inspired! We have a freezer problem at our house – 2 (one stand up and one chest) and counting. We get a 1/4 steer and whole hog every year and still run out of space for frozen fruits and veggies by the end of the summer. Add in freezer meals, soups, stock and ice cream and yeah, I think we will be needing another stand up freezer soon. I refuse to get another chest freezer.

  3. Kristin Ferguson says:

    The Container Store sells boxes almost exactly like those but a little less tapered. They call them shoe storage boxes. I use several of them in my small business (I store the different flavors of my nougat in them, once I’ve cut, wrapped and labeled them.) I’m so doing my freezer as soon as I have bathed today.

  4. Manisha says:

    I got a freezer from my mom when I started breast-feeding and pumping with the idea that I would have hundreds of ounces of milk for my little one. That’s also when I learned to freeze-flat. Well, the milk never exceeded 12 ounces at a time (TMI?) but I do now have an awesome freezer filled with meats and flat-frozen soups. BTW, I think I’m a thinker/starter. My hubby is the doer, so I pass on the project to him when I’m done.

  5. Jennifer Ramirez says:

    Before I can do anything with my freezer, I MUST finish my bathroom wallpaper job! I have had 2 strips hanging for 6 months, maybe more. I love that your so organized and I LOVE your mudroom!

  6. Ellen says:

    First- I can’t figure out where is the IKEA shoe thingy!!!

    Second- Great idea- I have tried the flat plastic bag idea and love it- except that they can attack me and slide all over the place- plus now, I have a plus one fella with big ol hands and anything in the way of the frozen yogurt flies out and then putting the frozen yogurt and previously airborne items back becomes a big mess. Soooo, I am going to try out this box idea for my regular freezer and eek out a special place for the frozen yogurt- you’ve inspired me!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Ellen! The shoe thingy is directly below the deer’s head thingy. It has 2 wood candlesticks on it. It looks like a cupboard but it’s really only 7″ or so deep and the drawers flip out as opposed to pull out. ~ karen!

  7. LazySusan says:

    Iris 13.5 gallon clear boxes from Costco? I bought a ton of them, also. We have a small chest freezer, so I use cardboard boxes of various widths and heights to sort things and find them easily. When we cleaned out the freezers, I made a map of what is where, so I can just check the map before going to get something. The boxes were started after seeing your old post about freezer organization, right on this very site. It works pretty well for us, so thank you! I like your new method for your upright freezer…much better use of space!

  8. jainegayer says:

    I can’t tackle the freezer yet. But I did organize my spices. I put them in ABC order. I think I need an intervention or wine or both.

  9. Edith says:

    Hi Karen,

    While visiting an office supply store last week, I noticed that the Duct Tape folks now make an erasable white tape that would be perfect for labeling those storage containers. I love organizing and labeling and so my inner dancer did a little gig when I saw that.

  10. Sherri says:

    About the kitty litter bucket, I am sure Karen will get around to prettying it up with contact paper, fabric, paint, sticks, something……….
    I love the organizational result. You are awesome, your freezer is awesome. I use the same type of clear shoe box containers in my fridge to corral sandwich makings. One has all types of sliced cheese, one for sandwich meat, one for all the odd rolls, one for made sandwiches (I make a couple at a time). Nothing lost in the back, easy take out and put away. I do the same for jellies and jams- no sticky shelves. Is there anything clear containers can’t do?

  11. Carolyn says:

    I didn’t see it in the comments, but what are the dimensions of the clear containers you put in your freezer? Also, where did you get them?
    I’m realizing I’m part thinker and part starter.
    I want to be a doer like you.
    I will clean out my freezer tomorrow. I will, I swear, after I plan out tonight how I will do it.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Carolyn! It doesn’t matter what the dimensions of my containers are. You need to find containers that fit your freezer specifically to utilize the space. Just measure and deduce from there which ones will fill your freezer the best. ~ karen!

  12. Debbie says:

    The shoe closet is lovely, but other than myself, my other house inhabitants are men (even the dog). Husband keeps his shoes in the closet, he’s a good boy! The three sons? When they visit home, they would put their shoes under the shoe closet.

  13. Jake says:

    OK I’m going to say it, what is with all the people who did not understand about the kitty litter. Explaining once is OK, twice a stretch but over and over. Good grief

  14. Margaret K. says:

    That freezer is a beautiful sight, but for one thing. Where’s the ice cream?

  15. Vicky says:

    I love that you have a whole container dedicated to stuffed cabbage!

    • Karen says:

      LOL! I grew a LOT of cabbage this year. It resulted in a LOT of cabbage rolls and slaws. :) ~ karen!

      • Beverley says:

        Hello there Janelle! I cycle all the time doing the loop from Lakes Rd-Herd Rd-Maple Bay Rd and up Zhouhalen back to Lakes. Do I go past your house? lol

      • Janelle says:

        Yes – I am right on Maple Bay Rd about 1/2 Km up from the Herd Rd turnoff. My little white dogs probably bark at you (er…sorry)! Wait…are you the Beverley that I went mountain biking with, once (the acupuncturist)? Maybe not, I think she was from Nelson…

      • Beverley says:

        Hello Janelle, I was looking forward to a bike ride on Saturday but the rain curbed my desire. I’m a different Beverley, but do need an acupuncturist for my arthritic hip…know of any you could recommend?

      • Janelle says:

        Sorry about your hip. I have never had acupuncture so I can’t recommend anyone from experience, but the other Beverley is a lovely person; she is right in Duncan on Coronation I believe. My cousin is studying Traditional Chinese Medicine in Nelson but he is still learning so I definitely wouldn’t recommend having him stick needles in you :)

      • Beverley says:

        No, you’re right! Point of entry has to be right on the mark!

  16. Jean says:

    Oh I learned to freeze baggies flat by doing it wrong. When you put the baggies on the freezer rack, they come out looking like Christmas ribbon candy…after you’ve pried them off that is. Time to go find that old roast in the bottom of the chest freezer. Thanks for the tips.

  17. Bols says:

    I almost passed out when I saw your freezer. I actually had to close the browser, take a few sips of tea with sage (because I have a sore throat), then I reopened the browser and took another look. Again, I almost passed out because I have never such an organizer freezer. (Which says a lot about the state of my own freezer).
    Yes, I frequently find things that are over 5 years old (I really looked into it, I bet I could still find items that I MOVED into the freezer when I moved into this house … that was only 9 years ago). I actually recently used something (I can’t remember what it was) that was frozen for 5+ years and I consumed it. Me typing this proves that there was nothing wrong with it.

    I actually hate both types of plastic boxes that you used and I would never buy them. Because even the second kind (the see-through ones) even though somewhat better shape-wise, still leave tons of wasted space. I will tell you why manufacturers make them like this: because they stack nicely. That’s all they care about, how to stack their inventory. Not so much about the functionality.

  18. Dea says:

    Love, love, love the upright freezer. We have a teeny-tiny one in the garage. Only 4 feet high. But we get a lot of stuff into it, and for just the two of us (and one of us not being much of a cook), it’s perfect. One tip you might try for freezing the ziplock baggies. I have an old Tupperware container that has lost its top, and I was about to throw it away when I discovered it would make perfectly square frozen globs of stuff if you lined it with the ziplock baggie and filled the baggie, then froze it in the container. Pops right out of the container and stores beautifully! If it sticks a little (sometimes the baggies will stick), just dip it in warm water and it will pop out. And just a quick dip won’t thaw it a bit.

    BTW, you might want to take a magic marker and label that kitty litter container. I’d hate for some clever kitty to do his business in your shrimps and clams. 8-)

  19. Cred says:

    Love this! I’m not a natural organizer but when I force myself to purge and create order, I’m transformed…. Energized, lighter, efficient and admittedly, a little boastful. You don’t want to come around when I’ve fixed a former chaotic storage area.
    I am envious of your upright freezer, we have a small chest freezer. But I am still grateful for it since I had been working with just the top freezer of our fridge previously. We got this freebie from my inlaws- it was looking pretty beat even after a good scrubbing so I painted the lid in chalkboard. While its not terribly organized or large, it holds the quarter beef we get from my brother-in-law and I write the inventory right on the lid. Pull a prime rib out for dinner, scratch off one from the lid inventory.
    Now, I’m going to peruse the World Wide Web for organizing ideas for a chest freezer posted by all those natural organized types.

  20. Patti says:

    I’m a thinker and a starter but I wish I was a doer! I envy you and your organized everything!

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