If you’re a food freezing enthusiast, you’ll need to know how to save space in the freezer. The merits of freezing food are endless. From saving time cooking meals everyday to reducing your environmental impact by freezing leftovers as opposed to disposing of them as unnecessary food waste. Additionally, frozen food is often accredited with retaining more nutrients than food sitting on shelves, which is important for a balanced diet. Finally, let’s not forget the cost savings associated with buying less food, ordering takeaways and making less supermarket trips.
Space can really be at a premium if you only have a fridge freezer as opposed to a freezer chest. This can be particularly true for people who engage in meal prepping and batch cooking food; this equally applies to people who bake regularly. We’ve all been in situations where trying to force food to fit in the freezer is equivalent to a game of advanced tetris. With that in mind, let’s delve into the top 10 ingenious tips and tricks to optimise the space available in your freezer!
Organise your freezer
Label foods and containers:
We’ve all been in the scenario where we’ve started routing through the freezer and started finding random unknowns. Whether it’s that frozen mysterious soup or leftovers from a batch cooking marathon which, at this stage, would probably need to go to a food lab to identify if it still even is food. If you’re living in a shared house, you may be wondering if the food is even yours!
Thankfully, we have been graced with novel items, such as pens and labels, which we can use to obliterate any ambiguity surrounding foods in your freezer. Many freezer bags now have a dedicated space where you can write the details of the food on the bags. Not only that, if you add the date made or use by date, number of portions and the owner of the food, it will make life so much easier when you’re scavenging for a meal; labelling also eliminates incorrectly throwing out food that you’re concerned could be past their expiry date. It might also deter those notorious food thieves from taking your food; word of warning – they don’t just exist in the office canteen!
A common feature associated with freezing foods is forgetting what you’ve even stored, this is particularly prevalent when it comes to freezer chests. Food gets buried in towards the bottom and then becomes forgotten about. A simple trick to avoid this is by writing a list of the foods you put into the freezer. You can even write it on the freezer. Yes, you read correctly. Get an erasable marker and write on the inside of the freezer door. Alternatively, you can pin a list to the freezer door with a magnet and update it as food is added or removed.
Believe it or not, frozen food doesn’t last forever. This means you need to declutter your freezer every so often. Ideally, this means removing everything (yes, everything; don’t be lazy or taking shortcuts) from the freezer and identify what can stay and what needs to go. If you’ve adopted the practice of labelling your food or created a food inventory, this will make your life much easier, provided you’ve included the use-by date on the label/food inventory.
While many freezers now incorporate a self-defrosting function, there are many freezers that don’t. Frost buildup can constitute a significant portion of freezer space, especially if it’s a couple of inches thick. Freezers should be defrosted when the ice becomes a quarter inch thick. For some freezers, this may mean that they need to be defrosted once a year, although each unit differs. Doing this optimises the efficiency of the freezer and ensures premium space is not unnecessarily used up. While defrosting, why not take the opportunity to declutter your freezer as well?
Store food flat:
Stacking foods flat on top of each other eliminates unnecessary wasted room in your freezer. By lying food flat, e.g. berries/vegetables/soup, removing excess air from the freezer bag and freezing them flat in the freezer, it optimises space efficiencies greater than randomly shaped bags of frozen items.
Divide freezer into zones:
If you have a number of different shelves in your freezer, you could allocate each of them to a specific type of food or even to a person if you share the freezer. For example, store all meat or fish on the bottom shelf – if the food somehow happens to leak, e.g. during a power outage, at least you don’t have to worry about it dripping onto other food sitting below it! Freezer zones allows you to find food easier. It also ensures you know which food you own and prevents food wars associated with people mistakenly taking food belonging to others. If your freezer isn’t that large, you could opt for the plastic basket option below.
Food containers are almost a necessity for anyone who freezes meals. In terms of space optimisation, choose ones that are square or rectangular in shape as they utilise space more efficiently with the corners of the freezer compared to round containers. Additionally, investing in a good food container set in a variety of sizes ensures you don’t have to store small quantities of food in a large container and consume unnecessary space. If you’re lacking in food containers, then this freezer and microwave-safe meal prep containers review could be the answer to all your questions.
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Similar to freezer zones, organising your food by type and sitting them in plastic baskets is a simple, yet effective way to put some order on your freezer. For people who engage in meal planning and cooking their own meals, this could take the form of a basked dedicated to protein, fats and carbohydrates, or meat/fish, vegetables and pasta/rice. That way, all you have to do is select an item from each container, and just like that, you’ve got the core ingredients for a macro-balanced meal. You could also have a basket dedicated to dressings, sauces or herbs.
Many food manufacturers are becoming more conscious of the additional cost and waste associated with unnecessary packaging; fortunately, this means that they are designing packaging to be as compact as possible. Sadly, this is not the case with all food. The cardboard packaging that accompanies your food stuffs often consumes excessive amounts of space. Removing the food from the cardboard box will often make for more compact storage. If the food isn’t individually wrapped, remove it from the packaging and place it in labelled freezer bags. It also ties nicely in with the previous tip. If there are multiple items in a cardboard box, remove them and store them all neatly into the one basket. This way, you know what quantity you have and don’t run the risk of them getting mislaid in the freezer or thinking that you need to buy more.
In terms of compact storage, freezer bags are practically unrivalled. Some people use tin foil, but this isn’t suitable for liquids, it can easily tear and isn’t reusable or recyclable. Freezer bags are especially valuable if you have small quantities of food or individual items/portions of food to store, e.g. a chicken breast or a few slices of bread. Investing in good quality freezer bags that don’t leak and are reusable is a winning formula for space storage; it also avoids the headaches that cheap, leaky freezer bags offer. If you’re seriously interested in freezing food and saving room, you could also invest in a vacuum sealer, but be warned, it is a more expensive option.
- Labelling food is a simple technique to ensure you’re not eating expired food
- Defrost your freezer when one quarter inch of ice develops
- Declutter your freezer often to ensure expired food is discarded with
- Remove unnecessary cardboard packaging, especially ones that consume extra room
- Organising your freezer into zones or with plastic baskets helps with meal planning and prevents items going missing
- Freezer bags are exceptionally efficient in terms of storage space
Thankfully, all of the above tips don’t involve significant investment or effort and can be easily followed. Just think of the time, money and food waste you’ll save! Have you any tips or tricks that you use to optimise space in your freezer? How often do you clear out your freezer? Post your comments and tips below!
Huffstetler, E., 2019. How To Tell When It’s Time To Defrost Your Freezer. [online] The Spruce. Available at:
Lovefood.com. 2019. 30 Tried And Tested Tips To Organise Your Freezer | Lovefood.Com. [online] Available at: