How to organize a freezer, according to professionals

Think you can get away with just throwing your frozen food wherever? Think again! Learn to organize a freezer like a pro.

(Image credit: IKEA)

Having a well-organized freezer means much more than simply having more space to store your frozen good. And organizing a freezer properly is essential to make sure you are not buying items that you already have buried deep below your ice cube trays and frozen fries...

It might seem like a perfectly fine idea to just throw your frozen items into your freezer and try to keep a running inventory in your head—but according to Jessica Randhawa, owner and head chef at The Forked Spoon, a common mistake people make with their freezer is just putting all their frozen food in one place. 'This can make it difficult to find what you're looking for and can lead to freezer burn if forgotten items stay in there for too long,' she explains. And of course, you can't expect to organize a kitchen properly from top to bottom without sorting out your freezer too...

How to organize a freezer properly

If your freezer is packed with forgotten supermarket impulse buys and frozen leftovers, you’ll want to take the time to organize your freezer once and for all. It’s really not as complicated as you might anticipate if you’re willing to follow a few simple steps and tricks.

Below, we spoke to chefs and organizational experts to get their insights on the best way to organize and maintain a freezer to best optimize your culinary experience. Here’s what you’ll want to do, whether you've the best upright freezer or a chest freezer, if you’re hoping to get organized once and for all.

Keep your freezer defrosted.

'The first thing I would recommend is keep your freezer defrosted,' shares Robert Johnson, founder of Sawinery. 'Not only does it take up space, it also harms the freezer function in the long run. You’ll want to defrost regularly unless your fridge is a frost-free model.'

Invest in a vacuum sealer.

'You’ll want to try and vacuum seal your foods as much as possible,' adds Johnson. 'This way, your food is better preserved and you can see what’s in the bag without frostbite; it’s both a food saver and space saver.'

File fold as much as you can.


(Image credit: The Container Store)

If you are not familiar with file folding, it is when you store clothing vertically instead of horizontally to better keep it organized. 'The file folding system can be applied for a freezer just as easily as a closet,' says Brianna Nitsberg, founder and decluttering expert at Simply Life by Bre. 'Whether you have meat, cheese, or other frozen items, try storing it vertically in your freezer if you have a basket freezer.'

Doing this helps you see everything that you have—which will save you so much money over time while also cutting down on food waste.

Look for freezer-safe storage.

If your frozen food is exposed to air, it can lead to freezer burn. It’s best to choose the perfect containers that fit the size of the food you will freeze. Doing so will prevent air from getting in contact with your food. 'If you’re going to use plastic bags or foil, tightly wrap your food. It not only maximizes your space but also keeps your food fresh,' says Edward Jones, founder of HomeCareHow.

Divide items into usable portions.


(Image credit: The Container Store)

It may sound easier for you to simply put everything straight into your freezer. However, when you take your items out, it will be harder to defrost them. 'Dividing them into usable portions, you can simply defrost the ones you need. If you generally use six pieces when you cook a meal, freeze six pieces together in a single container. That way, you will be thawing the perfect amount every time,' explains Jones.

Place items flat.

If you’re organizing a deep freezer that has no shelves you’ll want to store items vertically as much as possible—but if your freezer has built-in drawers it could be worth placing items flat. 'Freeze your food items flat as much as possible,' says Jones. 'Put your items in freezer bags, let the air out, seal, and lay them flatly.. Placing them flat will make it much easier for you to arrange them, especially if they’re laid with even thickness.'

Organize into sections.


(Image credit: The Container Store)

Try to keep "like" items together in the freezer and start to make sections for different types of foods, suggests Nitsberg. Some examples of sections you can make are: meats, cheeses, premade frozen meals, frozen fruit, etc.

Consider grouping by everyday foods or weekly foods.

If you tend to use certain items or ingredients much more often than others, Randhawa suggests grouping your freezer foods by everyday foods or weekly foods to help with the flow of the freezer space. 'A better way to organize your freezer is by category,' she says. 'Group them by how often you use them, such as everyday foods, weekly foods, or monthly foods.'

Consider clear bins.


(Image credit: The Container Store)

According to Randhawa, clear freezer-safe bins are a must to keep spaces divided for better organization—especially if you don’t have built-in shelves. The bins themselves should be appropriately labeled in your freezer, so that family members know where to put items properly after use or when loading with new things. It also helps to have various bins of different sizes for specific types of foods, depending on personal preferences for freezer foods.

Don’t shy away from labels.

If you do already have built-in shelves in your freezer, another option is to label each shelf with a different category of food. 'This will help you quickly find the item you need without having to search through everything,' says Randhawa.

Kaitlyn McInnis

Kaitlyn is an experienced travel and lifestyle writer with a keen interest in interior decorating and home optimization. An avid traveler, she's currently splitting her time between her apartment in a century-old châteauesque building in Montreal and her cozy chalet in the woods (that she built with her own two hands... and many YouTube tutorials!). Her work has been published in Travel + Leisure, Tatler Asia, Forbes, Robb Report Singapore, and various other international publications.