If you follow me on Instagram, you saw that this weekend I made over 20 freezer meals with my friend Shandra from DealsToMeals in preparation for the arrival of baby girl. TWENTY! (Don't worry, I'll share all the recipes, pics, and info soon.)
I found my biggest struggle not in preparing the freezer meals…but finding room for them in my freezer! It was a nightmare. If you know me, you know I'm obsessed with freezing…well…just about everything. I have 3 freezers: a pull-out freezer in my kitchen fridge, a small chest freezer in my garage, and a small side-by-side fridge/freezer in my basement kitchen.
Having so much trouble finding room in ANY of my freezers inspired me to go on a date with my freezer(s) to rekindle our love and get re-aquainted. Not to mention I discovered a whole boat-load of food I had completely forgotten about! I thought I'd show you what I do, in case it helps you successfully rekindle a loving relationship with your own freezer:
1. Pull everything out.
I choose one side or area of my freezer, and completely empty the contents to the floor. I keep a garbage can close by and toss anything that is super old, funky looking (or smelling), or something that we will never use and I wasn't in my right mind when I decided to keep it (like a 1/2 empty packet of ham glaze powder from LAST Thanksgiving. What the…??).
Keep your stuff in a pile, it won't thaw out fast enough to do any harm to anything. But if you're worried, keep a cooler nearby and put the food in there.
2. Clean out the creepy gunk.
Warning: No children or animals were harmed in the cleaning of this TOXIC DISGUSTING TOTALLY GROSS freezer.
Seriously, EW…don't judge me by the toxic crud in the bottom of my freezer. Why is that Viva container still in there, you wonder? Because it was basically glued down by some unknown sticky substance that took me forever to clean out of the freezer.
I took a vacuum and sucked out what I could, then took some heavy elbow grease and cleaning spray to wipe out the rest.
Needless to say, don't skip the cleaning part! Just trust me on this.
3. Put it all back, and write it ALL down!
Put it all back, and try your best to make it make sense! Write down every item as you go. Here's how I do it:
- Start with the least-used, bulkiest stuff at the bottom.
- Try to make each side or area of your freezer make sense. For example, here's how I organized my kitchen pull-out freezer:
- Left-side: Frozen meals/soup, meat, purees, salsa, etc.
- Right-side: Veggies, fruit, dairy, baking goods, lunchmeat, etc.
- Top mini drawer: Small, random items, and items we use regularly; butter, cream cheese, string cheese and bagged cheese, yogurt, breads, frozen sandwiches, ice cream, etc.
- Write down everything that gets put back in your freezer, and make note of what side/area it's on. Try to write it down somewhat in the same order as how you put it back in your freezer. Be sure to note how many you have. I have 3 yogurts in the picture above (we use them in smoothies), so I would do 3 tally marks. As I use one up, cross off a mark.
4. Use it!
The MOST IMPORTANT STEP (and where I fail the most) is
- 1) keeping up with your new organized freezer (crossing off things you use, putting things back where they go, and updating your inventory list as you buy and use things), and
- 2) using what you have in meals instead of buying new food at the store all the time.
At the end of the day the purpose of having all this glorious food is to make your life easier and save you money…so USE IT! Plan your meals around what you have, especially on those weeks where money is tight. See my “5 simple grocery tips to save you thousands” post for lots of helpful links and ideas on how to do this well.
Want to get reeeeeeal crazy?
Now that you have all this newly discovered food in your life….do a one or two-week spending freeze! It will not only force you to use what you have, but it's a great way to save a LOT of money in a short amount of time. It's liberating, motivating, and empowering; like a juice cleanse for your body or something. In one week you could save enough money to completely pay for Christmas. Buy a few staples before the freeze, but otherwise don't spend a dime and focus only on what you have in your pantry/freezer! See about my spending freeze HERE.
Get free (super cute) meal planning printables and a free freezer inventory printable HERE, to help keep you organized.
That's it! Super easy, super useful, super quick project that will make you feel oh so good. Now, get out there and enjoy having a romantic date with your freezer!