How To Organize A Stand-Up Freezer (in the Garage)

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My husband’s old bachelor pad is the reason I ever came to be a “stand-up freezer person”. When I married Matt, he was a bachelor with a full-blown bachelor pad. And because he didn’t cook at all, ever, I mean he only heated things in a microwave … he didn’t think it was worth it to buy a full-sized fridge for his home. He had a dorm mini-fridge and a stand-up freezer. The mini-fridge was for drinks and condiments, the stand-up freezer was for all of his frozen meals. After we got married, we bought a full-sized fridge and the stand-up freezer went to the garage. I’ve really come to appreciate the stand-up freezer, so when the cheap bachelor-pad one was looking sad, I finally replaced it last year with another stand-up freezer.

Over the years, I’ve figured out a thing or two about organizing a stand-up freezer in the most usable way.

Always the first step of organizing …

First of all – stop trying to store stuff you won’t really use. You feel like you “should” save this, so you put it in the freezer, but then it just gets weirder and ickier in the freezer. If you were “so-so” about something before, you will never feel like thawing it and eating it after it is frozen. Frozen things do not look more appetizing! This is an important rule to remember when you are organizing the freezer, because it as true in the freezer as anywhere else in your house: you can’t organize clutter!

The Planning Phase

Before you start buying bins and moving things around, make an inventory of what’s in your freezer. I have a FREE Freezer Inventory Printable you can use HERE or just use a piece of paper – that works too!

Write down everything that is in your freezer and see if you start to notice groupings. Do you have a lot of marinating meat? A lot of casseroles? A lot of veggies or cheese?

What you are doing by figuring out these groupings is figuring out how to divide your freezer into sections and baskets (if fitting). This is an important step – don’t skip it!

Getting the Right Containers

To make sure you get containers that fit your stand-up freezer space, measure your space before you shop for the containers of your choice. Take the tape measure to the store with you!

I like these same containers I use in my pantry and laundry room. I had already used them around my house enough to know I liked them and I tried one in my freezer and I liked that I could pull it in and out with the handle at the end.

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Label Your Containers

To be sure that everyone in your household can use the freezer as easily as you, label the containers with the categories you came up with during the planning phase. Bonus, this also lets people help you put away the groceries into the correct place! Win!

Important note: If you are going to use cute chalk labels in your freezer, DO NOT use chalk pens on the labels, because it will look like the pictures below after a while. (Oops!!) Permanent markers are the way to go.

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Preparing Freezer Food

Make do with the freezer food you already have prepared, but as you continue to create freezer food, create it with your new baskets and space in mind.

I like to flash freeze all of my freezer foods to be flat so that I can access them like files. I arrange them on cookie sheets and stick the cookie sheets in the freezer until they are frozen flat, and then I can re-arrange like this, where it is very easy to access my taco meat and pre-made creamy chicken taquitos:

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I even freeze big quantities of soup flat … double bagged!

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I love quart size zipper bags for hearty breakfast muffins. I pull these out at night and they are perfectly thawed by morning for my kids to devour.

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Salad Dressing doesn’t freeze well, so I freeze all the individual ingredients of our favorite dressing that does freeze well. I grab a bag and add the wet ingredients and blend. Easy! (This is a bag of partial ingredients for copycat Cafe Rio Lime Ranch Dressing … heaven on a spoon!)

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Putting It All Together

Now that you’ve got your containers with labels, you are ready to organize the freezer! It is time to put it all together!

Your freezer is going to look a little differently than mine, but I’ll show you how I put it all together.

My Basket Labels Are: 

  • Treats
  • Nuts & Granola Ingredients
  • Raw/ Marinade Meat
  • Fish
  • Bread
  • Mexican/ Taco Meat
  • BBQ
  • Prepared Meat
  • Meat

On the side I have odds and ends, and I keep cheese, fruit, pizza toppings, and leftovers in my kitchen freezer.

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I love this basket for holding bread. With four kids, we go through bread so quickly! I always add bread on the right and pull from the left.

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This treats container needs to be on the top for a reason … the kids should not be close to this!

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I chose to keep one shelf without baskets because invariably some things just do not fit well in baskets.

And yes, we use frozen pizza … you already knew we were normal, right? I don’t personally care for frozen pizza (I know, I’m so picky!), but my kids like it, so it is the perfect thing to feed them when we are going out for date night and I don’t feel like cooking.

The aluminum rounds have marinading chicken in them. It was something I decided to try, to see if I liked being able to just put that straight into the oven. I discovered I prefer bags!!!

And yes, I buy a lot of pre-prepared meats for those busy nights when I’d be otherwise tempted to pull through a drive-thru. Drive-thru’s are expensive with 6 people, so I rationalize spending a little more on convenience foods knowing that in the end I am saving a ton of money if we eat at home.

To me, ^that is what a freezer is for – for convenience!!!

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When I bought my new one last year, I decided to go with the gray option. My reasoning was that my white one used to always look dusty and dirty, and I thought the gray might hide some of that. And it does! Win!

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There you go – now you know how to organize that stand-up freezer. There is nothing standing in your way!

 

Be sure to check out all the other Garage Organizing Posts!

Garage Organizing Posts

Let’s Organize The Garage {Tips & Strategies} – An overview of the best strategies for approaching organizing your garage, with useful tips to make it go better.

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Pegboard Hack & Organizing Garage Shelves – Ideas for organizing shelves and pegboards. Shelves are flexible to organizing lots of things, and pegboards are specifically excellent at organizing tools.

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Garage Organizing: How To Hang Bikes, Scooters, Ripsticks, Balls & More – Use the vertical space in your garage and get all the pesky sports equipment off the floor and on the wall!

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How To Organize A Stand-Up Freezer – Many people keep freezers in their garage. Let’s get those organized too!

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My Re-Organized Garage REVEAL – I finally made the changed to make my garage a happy place for me! See all the nooks and crannies!

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How To KEEP Your Garage Organized – You’ve worked hard to organize your Garage! Now it’s time to learn how to keep it that way!

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Diagnose Your Garage & Cure The Clutter – This is an oldie, but goodie! Find out the different reasons people accumulate junk in their garage and diagnose YOUR REASON for a garage mess – then you’ll know how to clear the clutter.

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Happy Organizing!

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16 thoughts on “How To Organize A Stand-Up Freezer (in the Garage)

  1. Wow! Your freezers are so different to ours here in the uk. Ours have pull out baskets per shelf and usually couple of shelves at the top. Yours looks much bigger as well!
    Would never have thought of putting baskets in the freezer. Might try it on the top 2 shelves as they are usually the most difficult to organize.

    1. When I lived in the UK, I just remember how small the fridge was in our house! My mom and I were constantly thinking that Americans kept more things cold than people in the UK. :)

  2. Another thing you can try, across the top of my ziploc bags- the plastic thing you grab and pull apart- I write what it is so I don’t have to pull it out of the basket to see what I’m holding.

    1. Oh man, does that mean I would have to organize a chest freezer?! LOL. Check out my Pinterest board for garages – there are some good chest freezer resources. But yes, I came into the uprights accidentally, but I love it!

  3. I had some challenges with my upright freezer during the declutter challenge. I think I’m going to go back and do some tweaking based on your post! Love it.

    I also love the baskets that came with your freezer, so I did some web searching and found that they are available separately. I didn’t see dimensions listed with the baskets so I have some more researching to do, but am excited about the possibility of replacing the wire basket I had to pitch from mine. (http://www.frigidaire.com/Filters–Accessories/Freezer-Accessories/)

Leave a comment! I love to hear what you think!