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Chest Freezer Organization, Looking for Ideas
Old 07-26-2020, 01:56 PM   #1
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Chest Freezer Organization, Looking for Ideas

5 months ago we bought a 16 cubic foot chest freezer and it was finally delivered about a week ago (big delay due to the pandemic). DW is having a heck of a time figuring out how to organize it to allow us to easily find items and know what we have on hand and how long it's been in the freezer so we can effevrctively rotate or "first in, first out" the freezer contents. For those of you with a chest freezer and an inventory system that works, please share. Thanks.
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Old 07-26-2020, 02:26 PM   #2
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I would look for simple inventory management mobile apps. You just need it to be able to scan UPC/bar codes and allow attaching notes. Here is one that is free for single user and may provide what you need. I am sure there must be many others out there.

https://www.sortly.com/product-tour/

https://www.sortly.com/barcode-inventory-system/
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Old 07-26-2020, 03:15 PM   #3
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We went with an upright for that very reason. Even with our old 7cu ft apt size chest freezer if felt like dumpster diving.
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Old 07-26-2020, 04:18 PM   #4
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I can't advise you about the chest freezer, but I do use a spreadsheet to track food in my upright and kitchen It has 5 tabs: Prepared Foods, Prepped Ingredients, Meat & Fish, Fruit & Vegetables, and Grains & Legumes. Those are divided into sections containing columns; e.g. in the Prepared Foods I have "Frozen Dinners, Cooked Meats, and Desserts." Meat & Fish has "Poultry, Seafood, Beef, Pork." Within these larger columns are the expected "Name, Date, Measure, Quantity and also K or B to indicate kitchen or basement.

Once the spreadsheet was set up, it became relatively simple to keep it up - just a few words typed in - but I have to keep after myself to do it. Just finished off an entry of "cooked chicken" today, and I did remember to delete it.

The main challenge I am facing is the "Prepped ingredients" page. I do have an ambition to work in these sauces and partially cooked mixes into meals, but haven't figured out how to do that smoothly. For example, I have some chopped, cooked, frozen bacon that you'd think would be easy enough to incorporate in something, but I keep failing to do so.
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Old 07-26-2020, 04:48 PM   #5
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I have an upright but some of what I do can help..


When prime steak goes on sale I buy a lot! I use a seal a meal to package them and I put on the date and if I know the weight of the meat. Sometimes I do not know because I mix and match.


If I do not seal I use heavy duty aluminum foil and write on the outside what it is and the date.


I do not buy more than 2 of anything frozen in a box... one is open so I know which to use... when empty you open the other and buy a second...


I have small plastic storage boxes without the lids to put common things in.. the steaks in one, the fish in another, chicken etc... they are easy to take out to look closer at what you have if needed. You can also see what is getting low as the food is not spread all over the place.


The big theme is put a date on it!!!


BTW, earlier this year I finished up the steaks from 2018... still great taste...
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Old 07-26-2020, 04:56 PM   #6
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The big theme is put a date on it!!!

I don't do it all the time, but when I "refresh" I make sure to do it with the new meat. If it doesn't have a date, use it first.
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Old 07-26-2020, 05:49 PM   #7
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We are currently freezerless, but when we had one I kept a dry erase board on the side (magnets), and wrote down what I put in and scratched through what I took out. Once a month or so I'd erase and re-list. It worked pretty well and didn't need a computer.
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Old 07-26-2020, 07:20 PM   #8
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When I had a chest freezer, I used to keep an inventory of all items and the approximate location of each item. And scratched off the items from the inventory as I removed them. It worked really well, and it was nice that I could tell what was in the freezer all the time.
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Old 07-26-2020, 07:25 PM   #9
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Thank you all for your suggestions, they are very helpful. Pellice, you mentioned keeping a spreadsheet. DW is an Excel wiz, having wo*ked in finance. Building and maintaining a spreadsheet will be easy for her. I like the suggestion from Texas Proud about using plastic storage bins for like items. Also like Harley's idea of a dry erase board on the freezer; that's more my speed.
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Old 07-27-2020, 07:13 AM   #10
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NateW, I just did a search with Dr. Google, "chest freezer organization bins," and, lo and behold, there are dozens of bins specifically for chest freezers, plus lots of folks offering their own specific tracking systems. You'll find something workable out there!
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Old 07-27-2020, 07:26 AM   #11
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Unfortunately, this system which I use for the refrigerator won't help you find stuff (esp. w/ 2 users in the house): However it at least lets you know what might be there so you can look for it.

I use a calendar to enter the item and cross it off when it's used up. It's useful for eating the older stuff first so it doesn't go bad. Perhaps less critical for a freezer. For the freezer, I try to put certain things in certain places......like the tray and the shelf under the tray......however the rest of the volume is just space so it is had to know exactly where things are since, like in the refrigerator, stuff gets moved around .
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Old 07-27-2020, 07:40 AM   #12
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I read in a book that a family that shops once a month stores food in their chest freezer in paper grocery bags. One for beef, another for chicken and a third for bread. While you would need to arrange the oldest vs newest in each bag, it should be relatively easy to find the correct do. The book was written before the big push to bring our own bags started.

I have fabric bags coated inside with vinyl or something waterproof, the same size as the paper grocery bags. Those would probably work great in a chest freezer if you didn't want plastic bins.
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Old 07-27-2020, 08:21 AM   #13
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I use a couple of trash cans that fit inside my deep freeze nicely. Might loose some usable space but does help separate the ground from the specialty cuts.
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Old 07-27-2020, 10:08 AM   #14
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Too short for a chest freezer (had one, couldn't reach the bottom :-))
What I do for our small upright:
We re-package with our food saver when we get back from shopping and everything is labeled with date and subject (hamburger, salmon, etc). Each shelf is for specific food i.e beef, poultry, seafood, bread, ready made/leftovers. oldest dates go to the front of the shelf.
I have a list on the front to guide my meal planning, and I use the oldest date first.
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Old 07-27-2020, 10:12 AM   #15
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Lots of great tips here! We just bought an upright freezer because of exactly this issue. I still remember Pulling 5 yr old chicken out of the HUGE chest freezer we had as a kid. It always felt like once something went in, if it wasn’t in the baskets on top, it was done for.

We’ve found some good freezer bins we intend to use for the upright. I bet you could find a Lidded/stackable equivalent that would work well.
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Old 07-27-2020, 10:28 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by harley View Post
We are currently freezerless, but when we had one I kept a dry erase board on the side (magnets), and wrote down what I put in and scratched through what I took out. Once a month or so I'd erase and re-list. It worked pretty well and didn't need a computer.
I like that system but I'm not sure I have enough "care" to do that.

My system is just to go through it every 3 or 4 weeks and put what I think we should eat next in the kitchen reefer.
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Old 07-27-2020, 05:44 PM   #17
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DH is in charge of this and uses baskets on top and boxes or bags on bottom. But he has a white beard hanging above it with the 3 baskets on top, and 4 boxes kn bottom.

SO 3 boxes drawn on the whitebard. Then the contents of each basket listed and the number of that items. i.e. 1 juice, 3 1# hamburger. He updates the board when he adds or removes something in that spot.

Same routine for the bottom of the freezer
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Old 07-27-2020, 08:44 PM   #18
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Thanks again everyone for your suggestions. This gives me a lot to go on. We also have a 25 year old 8 cubic foot upright freezer and wanted to give a chest freezer a try because of better effeciency (cold air won't spill out when the door is opened) and the 8 cubic footer was packed full and items kept falling out of it when we opend the door and moved stuff when searching for a particular item.

On a side note the new chest freezer uses isobutane as a refrigerant (has dire warning labels noting flammable refrigerant and foam insulation is used). I wondered how it could get to deep freeze cold with the boiling point of isobutane being 11 degrees F. But it does get to at least 6 degree blow zero per a temperature check. So I researched isobutane use in freezers and turns out temperatures down to about -20 deg. F are possible. It is done by evaporating the butane under a partial vacuum. Also is a very efficient refrigerant and has low operating temperatures and pressures. I used my "Kill-o-watt" meter to check power usage and when the compressor cycles on it only uses 80 watts and the compressor runs less than 50 percent of the time. I think the 8 cubic foot R-12 refrigerant upright uses about 240 watts when the compressor runs.
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