Organizing Your Chest Freezer for Maximum Benefit

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You all know how much I love my chest freezer. It easily pays for the energy it uses because it allows me to buy in bulk when I see terrific sales, and saves extra trips to the grocery store. The only problem is that it’s difficult to organize such a cavernous storage space, and you can’t see what you already have, so you buy more. Without an efficient system for order and inventory, the oldest stock doesn’t always get used up before it goes bad.

In my search for a solution to this problem, I was excited to find chest freezer organizers online. These baskets stack together neatly, and they seemed like a perfect solution, until I measured my freezer and discovered that it would cost almost $60 (plus shipping) to organize it.

I gave this issue much thought because I was determined to find a less expensive solution to this problem. Armed with my freezer measurements, I set out for the store in search of something that might work. And I found it.

I purchased 6 white, milk-style crates for $4 each (total cost – $24, for a savings of $36, not including shipping), and I stacked them in the freezer in three rows of two. The bottom two are for meats because they’re the heaviest (it looks like I’m getting low on chicken):


The small space in front is perfect for extra bags of super-sale purchased flour.

The middle two baskets are for fruits and veggies,


and the top two are for sale-purchased cheese and butter, whole-grain rice (freezing it prolongs the shelf life), chocolate chips, and breakfast foods like waffles and toaster strudel (when I can find them on sale for a great price). In our case, the top two bins were just slightly too tall for the freezer lid to close, so my husband trimmed them down to a perfect fit with a utility knife. That’s the beauty of using these plastic crates – they’re adjustable.


I store grains, and larger things, like the occasional frozen pizza, on the left-side shelf,


and all of the freezer space is used, which is ideal for energy savings.

I don’t have to waste time looking for stuff, and I don’t waste money because I always know just what I have to use up. When I take something out of the freezer, I check it off on my freezer inventory, and when the inventory gets low, I add that item to my grocery list.

I love organization. It makes life so much easier :)

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Heather is a minimalist in love with a recovering packrat. 7 years ago, she and her husband sold pretty much anything that wasn't nailed down in order to pay off their mortgage, and they've been living happily debt-free ever since. They have 3 hilarious little kids who were conceived with the help of in vitro fertilization, and they haven't had a good night's sleep in the last decade. Heather is an anglophile who loves all things British, and spends her free time looking at real estate listings in Cornwall. Every day, she and her family work toward a simpler, more meaningful life. Some days are awesome, some are disastrous, and you can read about all of them here.

Have a question? Need a listening ear? Contact Heather, or visit Want What You Have on Facebook.

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14 comments… add one

  1. Stephaniee1981 March 5, 2012, 8:43 pm

    Great idea! Where did you find your milk crates?

    Reply
    1. heatherlynnie April 15, 2012, 3:34 pm

       I got mine at Dollar General.

      Reply
  2. Dee April 15, 2012, 1:43 pm

    how has the plastic held up after this much time in the freezing temp?

    Reply
    1. heatherlynnie April 15, 2012, 3:34 pm

       No problems at all…and we’ve had them for 8 years.

      Reply
  3. Rebekah White April 25, 2012, 9:50 pm

    What size is your freezer?

    Reply
  4. David Knigge May 21, 2012, 4:22 pm

    This looks very smart and practical. I Googled “chest freezer organizer” and found you down the list past Walmart and Amazon (which were no real help at all – little, stupid wire basket for $9). I didn’t understand your inventory list. Why the dashes after each item? I’m thinking along the lines of freezer tape marking packages – so it stays stuck – and using colored marker polka dot to I.D. date of storage with a legend in a plastic sleeve velcro-ed to the top inside of the lid. I love your attitudes about simple and frugal living. I have more ideas I’d like to share with you if you like.

    Reply
  5. Dagreenfield June 12, 2012, 5:35 pm

    I want to thank you for coming up with this fabulous idea.  I went to the container store and purchased 2 small milk crates; they were $9.99 each.  I have a small chest freezer and I am happy to say that the crates fit perfectly.  I was up late last night organizing everything.  I am really enjoying your website. may
    God continue to bless you.

    Reply
  6. Bev Wippich December 7, 2012, 7:05 am

    Dear Heather
    Thank you so much for this brilliant idea! And this was the first time I searched on the internet and found the best webpage on my first click. Normally I have to wade through dozens of useless sites before finding the ‘right’ one.
    God bless

    Reply
  7. annie March 3, 2013, 3:36 pm

    Hi Heather, I love this idea for chest freezer organizer. Just to let you know, your link above for “freezertote.com” goes to another website. Thanks.

    Reply
  8. Betsy March 24, 2013, 11:12 pm

    LOVE your idea — and like others, I was thrilled your site was among the first that came up in my search. I had some crates in the garage (lucky!), and they’re working great.

    My chest freezer has a basket made to slide along the top, so I slot it over the left-side shelf items, and I fill it with the meats and other items I’ll need for that week’s meals. Saves that much more lifting the crates out of the freezer, and makes it easy for me to ask DH or DS to grab something for me.

    Thanks a million for your terrific idea and many other posts that speak to me and my needs.

    Reply
  9. Rebecca C April 5, 2013, 10:35 pm

    I was just perusing freezer baskets when I came across this. Great idea. I am fighting the urge to run out of the house to Dollar General this minute because I really need to make dinner ;0)

    Reply
  10. Tiffany Merritt May 13, 2013, 12:30 pm

    Hi there, fellow deep freezer organizer! :-) Wanted to let you know that I’m writing a blog post with a round up of deep freezer organization methods, and I’d like to include your post. All credit will be given back to you for your picture, and a link back to yoru post will be included so people can get full instructions on how to organize using your system. Please do let me know if this isn’t ok with you for any reason. And thanks for sharing your method!

    Reply
  11. Stephen September 28, 2013, 4:09 pm

    Heather, you are da bomb! Your idea is genius: whoda thunk milk crates instead of wire baskets, and for fewer dollars than the wire baskets? Thanks a bunch!

    Reply
    1. Heather September 29, 2013, 3:22 am

      You’re welcome!

      Reply

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