How To: Organize Your Deep Freezer


One of the ways that you can save money throughout the year is to invest in a deep freezer and pick up meat in bulk and freeze veggies and fruit when in season. But with a deep freezer comes the difficult task of keeping it organized so you can make sure you use those foods when you need them and before they go bad. I’ve tried several, several methods and ways to organize my deep freezer, each having it’s own negative outcome. Those thick milk crates? Way too heavy for me to lift! Just leaving every loose in the freezer? It became like a treasure hunt and often discouraged me from cooking as it took too long to find the right cut of meat! By far, this method I’m about to show you is my favorite.


Before you begin, you’ll want to find some high-quality containers to sort out your meat cuts. I found the ones pictured above at Target (I also saw them at Walmart) and they have worked really well for me for the last year. They often go on sale so if you aren’t in any hurry you may want to wait and save yourself some money. You’ll find them in the storage container area as opposed to the kitchen area of your store.

Our deep freezer has a deep “well” in the middle and then a shorter shelf-type area on the other side. I’ve found that I can fill the middle of the well with the larger containers and then slide the smaller ones down the other side and then a few on top. I also use the larger ones on the shelf area.

Before you organize, you must think about what cuts of meat you use the most/least. The ones you don’t cook too often will go on the bottom of the stacks. Things you use often you’ll save for the top.

I usually have 1/4 cow, 1/2 hog, a few whole chickens and some loose random items in my deep freezer. It just all depends on what time of year it is and what’s the latest I’ve had delivered by our farmer. (Don’t know where to look for a good farmer contact in your area? Try Local Harvest as you should be able to find a farmer and/or farmer’s market near you.)

Here’s how I sort them by cut:

1) On the bottom, I keep pieces such as roasts, ribs, soup bones and any cuts I rarely use.

2) On top of that is a large bin of hamburger patties.

3) On the side and bottom of those large containers, I keep our steaks if it’s not BBQ season. They get transferred up top during the summer!

4) On top of those are the larger steak pieces such as sirloin steaks, etc.

5) On top of the hamburger patties are another large container of ground hamburger. We go through this the most so it is always towards the top.

6) On top of the ground hamburger are smaller containers of beef stew meat and cubed steaks. These fit nicely in those small containers so I keep them stacked on top (otherwise they throw the larger containers off balance!).

7) As you can see on the side with the smaller containers, there’s a gap between them and the freezer. This is where I’ll drop extra soup bones and whole chickens, if I am stocking up on them. I also store hams and/or turkeys there, too. I don’t cook too many per year so they fit nicely there.

8) Off on that “shelf” space, I use larger containers and I keep my pork here. I usually have pork chops and pork steaks in the bottom one and on top I’ll keep pork sausage, bacon, etc. as I use them more. I usually have my pork delivered when my beef is low and vice versa so I always have enough room to store them. Right now, I’m lower on pork than beef.

9) Our freezer came with a basket. I keep things such as homemade bone broth/stock, whole chickens, bread products, etc. in there. If yours doesn’t have a basket, just use more smaller containers.

10) On top of everything, I’ll add small containers of fruit/veggies that are in season. We picked quite a few blueberries so that’s what I have there at this time.  My other veggies/fruit are in our main freezer space along with our ice cream and such. I don’t use a lot of processed foods so I don’t need much storage space for those. I will shift any large containers left or right, as needed. When I decided to add the blueberries to this freezer, I shifted the ground hamburger over on top of the pork since there was room. That’s what’s nice about these large and small containers is that they really work well together as far as space and lots of options of how to stack them.

11) After you sort the meat cuts into the small/large containers (and before you stack them in your freezer), take a minute to jot down what you have on inventory.  I went a step further and typed mine up in Excel and printed it with extra columns of gridlines. Now, when I take cuts out, I can cross it off and update the new total. I keep it safe in a little plastic bag with a hook. (Talk about re-using items–this bag came from a multi-pack of kids socks! I always keep things like that as you’ll never know when you can use them!!) My totals may not always be exact but at least I’ll have somewhat of an idea of what I have on hand.

12) Since that little bag had a hook, it hangs perfectly on my extra spice rack which I keep in my pantry where my deep freezer is stored.

Now there are times when I need meat cuts on the bottom of the freezer but it is so easy to take out the top containers to get to them. They are really light-weight and easy to put back in as they fit perfectly in there together—there’s no more throwing out your back trying to lift those impossibly heavy milk crate containers!

What it really comes down to is this–you need to organize your deep freezer in a way that works for YOU. It should be simple enough that you won’t be discouraged from cooking because you don’t have time (or energy!) to dig through your deep freezer.

And this should go without saying but….always make sure you rotate your stock of meats and use your oldest cuts first. When we are getting our next batch of beef or pork, I’ll take what’s left of the last batch and move them to my freezer that’s attached to my fridge. I then try to work my meal plans around those cuts of meat first.

And here’s a great tip for defrosting meats–always keep an 8×8 Pyrex type dish in your fridge so you can easily toss meats in there to defrost. (Just make sure you wash it in between uses!) I have been doing this for awhile and it saves me time from trying to clear space to make room for them. As soon as the dish is washed out, I put it right back in the fridge, empty and ready to be used again. Also, it’s always best to defrost your meats on the bottom shelf of your fridge so if they leak, they won’t drip all over your other foods!

I hope this helps you get your deep freezer more organized! I’d love to hear your tips of what you do to keep yours nice and neat!

Disclaimer: Please use your own judgment as to whether containers you use are safe for your freezer and foods. I am not saying these are the safest containers but just that I use them. Check your local stores for containers marked “freezer safe” if you are concerned about your food safety, etc. You might be able to find similarly shaped containers that are marked as such.

Salmon Avocado Rolls Recipe


Sometimes, the mundane breakfast items just don’t cut it and I want to switch it up a bit. That’s when I whip up a quick batch of these salmon avocado rolls. They are ridiculously easy to make and only require 3 ingredients.

What You’ll Need:

Smoked Salmon
Chavrie Goat Cheese (or Cream Cheese)

Notes: You’ll find the salmon over in the meat department hanging up by the seafood. You can usually catch them for around $6 a pack. Just make sure they say they are “ready to eat.” If you don’t like goat cheese, you can try cream cheese, as well. It’s just a bit harder to spread on the salmon.

And Here’s How To Make Them:


1) Cut your avocado into halves. Then use your knife to cut one of halves into wedges. If you are careful, you can do it right in the skin and you won’t need to dirty a cutting board. Just don’t slice through the avocado skin and yourself!!


2) Lay pieces of the salmon on a plate or flat surface. They are usually already cut in small strips but if not, you may want to trim them to a smaller size.


3) Dollop on some goat/cream cheese and spread it across the pieces with the back of a spoon or a knife. Lay one wedge of avocado at the top of each salmon piece.


4) Roll up the salmon slices and you are done.


I can usually get 2-3 sets of around 4 salmon avocado slices per pack of salmon. I’ll save the other half of avocado in an Avocado Keeper and the salmon slices in a Ziploc Small Rectangle Container. The avocado shown a few pics above that I sliced into wedges was actually cut in half the day before and kept in the keeper. As you can see, it does a great job of keeping them fresh! It’s best to keep the half with the pit in it in the keeper as it helps keep it fresher.

I hope that you end up liking these if you try them. But it goes without saying that if you aren’t a fan of salmon, you probably won’t be a fan of these. LOL! I like to treat myself to them every so often. It’s a great way to get some healthy Omega-3s into your body!!

Brainstorming Solutions to Stresses: Reducing Food Waste


In case you missed it, you can read this post to see what this series is all about.

There are several ways to save on your grocery budget (of course the first being to actually have a grocery budget!) but aside from using coupons and meal planning another one of the bigger ways to save it to reduce/eliminate food waste. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about. You just grabbed a great deal on strawberries and two days later, they are a big moldy mush because you forgot about them. Or you go to grab a can of something and find out it expired months ago.


Here are some of the ways I have compiled to help reduce/eliminate food waste:

1) Rotate your food stock – Make sure that you always have your oldest canned goods up front and try to use them first. I’ve even set aside an area in my pantry where I grab all food that will expire within a few weeks and put it there so I can be sure to work it into my weekly meal plan.

2) Hang a dry-erase board on your fridge and jot down food items that you should use first, your “don’t forgets” such as those strawberries that you bought.

3) Instead of buying all your produce at once, make bi-weekly produce trips to the store. Since the produce is sold towards the front, you can easily run in and grab the few items you need without risking too many chances at food impulse buys. When you go to make your grocery list from your weekly meal plan, jot down the produce that could wait a few days before purchasing and keep that list separate so you won’t have to remember later.

4) Keep a designated area in your fridge for the “use first” food. This could include leftovers, dairy/produce items that are soon expiring, etc. Try to work those into a meal during the week.

5) Try to have one night a week where you use leftovers. If your family isn’t one to like a meal a second time, try to make meals where you can easily freeze the leftovers for a quick lunch later or even another meal later on.

6) Go through your pantry quarterly (or even monthly!) to be sure that you don’t have food go past its expiration date.

7) Set limits to open snacks/cereals. Instead of having 5-6 boxes open at once, set a limit of 3 cereal boxes open at a time. Make it a rule that a new box can’t be opened until those are gone. Do something similar with snacks. An easy tip: Only keep a few bag clips and set a rule that a bag of chips (etc) can’t be opened if there’s no available bag clip.

8) Make sure you work all “soon expireds” from your pantry and fridge into your weekly meal plan. Check your “don’t forget” list on the fridge, too!

9) Invest in Produce Savers to extend the life of your produce. And make sure you are using a high enough quality freezer bag/container to avoid freezer burn. If you only use a partial bag of a frozen item, make sure it’s sealed properly or store it in a freezer safe container with a label.

10) Set a “food waste charge” for family members to encourage that they reduce the amount of food waste at meal/snack times. This will help them learn portion control, as well. Keep the money you collect in a separate little bank and use that same money to reward kids when they’ve gone longer periods of time without wasting food.

I’m hoping that these tips will help you reduce the amount of food waste and help you make the most of your grocery budget! In what way do you try to reduce/eliminate food waste.

Stay tuned for another day of brainstorming on another stresser! The series is almost done!! In case you missed them, you can check the recap to see what I’ve posted already.

Re-Cap for Brainstorming Solutions to Stresses Series


In case you missed it, you can read this post to see what this series is all about.

I wanted to take a minute and re-cap the Brainstorming Solutions to Stresses Series so you can easily access any that you may have missed. There are a total of 20.

I’m hoping that you are enjoying the series and finding some tips to help you reduce some stresses in your life, too!

1) Laundry
2) Email & Mail
3) Spending Less
4) Exercise
5) Fridge/Freezer
6) School Lunches & Schedules
7) Meal Planning
8) Work/Parent Time
9) Dishes
10) Clutter Spots
11) Healthier Meals & Snacks
12) Finding Friend Time
13) Finding Family Time
14) Keeping the Bathroom Clean
15) Morning/Evening Routine
16) Saving and Smarter Shopping
17) Keeping a Clean Car
18) Having Necessities on Hand
19) Reducing Food Waste
20) Time to Myself to Recharge

Brainstorming Solutions to Stresses: Healthier Meals and Snacks


In case you missed it, you can read this post to see what this series is all about.

I have to say that I am happy to see that more families are trying to find healthier solutions for their meals and snacks. The downside to this though, is that advertisers have also noticed this and have started to put a spin to products to make them appear healthier to boost sales. Some of the blurbs they put on packaging can make things appear to be “good for you” when truly, they are not. So how does one truly know if something is healthy or not?!

I’ve taken a big leap over the last few years in putting more focus on reading ingredient labels. I’ve gotten in the habit of avoiding foods with ingredients that I don’t understand and/or foods with very long lists of ingredients. I’ve been trying to “Google” ingredients in products to see if those things may be harmful or perhaps just some natural preservative that I haven’t heard about. In the process, I’ve been basically building up my own education of what to eat and what to avoid. While I am by no means any food expert, I am happy at how far I’ve come on my own.


Here are a few ways I’ve brainstormed to help continue on the path of healthier meals and snacks for my family:

1) Make the core of all our meals “real food” with items that come as much from nature as possible with extra focus on in-season produce.

2) Continue to buy the majority of our meats and produce through farmers, either directly or at the farmer’s markets. When the markets close, I’ll shop at healthier stores like Whole Foods Market or Fruitful Yield for some of our necessities.

3) When grocery shopping, stick to the outer edges of the stores as they tend to have the healthiest foods. As soon as you step into those middle aisles, it increasing the chances to find impulse buys on unhealthy foods.

4) Continue to read the ingredient list on new foods that I want to try. Stick to short ingredient lists and ingredients that I understand. Continue to research anything that I don’t understand on products that could be potentially unhealthy.

5) Keep a food journal for at least for a month, to see how healthy (or unhealthy!) we are currently eating now. Make sure to pay attention to any vitamins/nutrients/minerals that we are lacking and search for more foods high in those items.

6) Look for more resources that emphasize healthy meals. (Resources such as websites, books, cookbooks, magazines, etc.) A few I currently recommend are:
a) Clean Eating, Vegetarian Times and Weight Watchers magazines. Good resources for recipes!
b) Organic Gardening website. Great way to incorporate items into the garden.
c) Whole Foods Market website. I’ve found several great new recipes there and the latest on healthy/unhealthy foods
d) Nutrition Action Healthletter – No ads and just pages full of great tips! One of my faves!

7) Set limits on our snacks. It’s amazing how fast just a little snack here or there can add up to an unhealthy amount of food throughout the day. Also watch how many new snacks are open at once. This can lead to waste and over-snacking.

8) Make healthier snacks more readily accessible and visible. We often tend to eat unhealthy just because it seems faster than stopping for two minutes to cut up some fresh veggies.

9) Set up a meatless day each week in our menu to get more variety into our diet and save money. This will help to incorporate things like tofu, beans, etc. into our diets.

10) Work more crockpot meals into the monthly meal plan. There are so many healthy recipes out there that rely on the longer cooking times rather than unhealthy oils, breadings etc to add more taste to the meal. I can also use it as a tool for making more homemade things, such as crockpot applesauce or homemade yogurt.

11) Continue to look for coupons and savings on Organic and healthy items and stockpile any that I can.

12) Continue to do freezer cooking sessions with items that are in-season throughout the year. This will be a great way to keep healthy veggies that are full of taste ready in our freezer (and at the lower price) so they can be added to soups, casseroles, etc.

13) Continue to educate my kids on the benefits of eating healthy and about the importance of moderation with all foods, including “treats.” (I’m hoping to add another part to the “How to Get Kids to Eat Healthier” series soon!)

These are just a few ways that I’ve brainstormed on how to continue to get healthier meals and snacks into our week. In what ways have you found that have helped you eat healthier?

Stay tuned for more posts next week! And as always, thank you for bearing with me when life doesn’t allow me to post things on time. Remember, always put your family first!