I know you don’t like cleaning the freezer and the fridge. I don’t either! But what I do like are the results. Long lasting, beneficial to our home, and sanity producing results are what we get when we tackle tough projects.
Like yesterdays post on Tackling the Pantry (Day 2) and the post of Listing Family Favorites (Day 1), this is a key step in Speed Planning a Budget-Menu. When you follow a plan like Trim Healthy Mama or run any kind of home, you need to do this. It creates healthy habits for your whole family.
How? If you don’t know what you have, you will spend more money and time than needed on food you may already have. You will also continue the vicious cycle of buying food only to “lose” it in the freezer or the fridge.
In fact, meal planning and prep will become much more pleasant for the whole family.
Rather than sending boy wonder to the garage freezer to find something, after much frustration on his part of not seeing. And much directing in a loud voice from me about where to look, then finding that the needed food was hidden elsewhere. We will both spend that time in food prep bliss.
He will clearly see (and if he helped me organize, will know well) where I put the beef. And I will cheerfully hug boy wonder as he brings me the beef because I never had to raise my voice. See. All will be very well.
How do I know? We have lived there. We have had meal planning and prep heaven in this household and I very much long to get back to that place of bliss and peace.
Now that I have spent the last few minutes in a day dream of the past, we will move on to practical steps to get the past into the now. Yay!
Fist things First
Get a few boxes together. Get the trash can too. I don’t usually throw freezer food away but you may need to depending on where you fall with your upkeep.
We butcher a cow every year and that means I have to clean it out at least once a year. I think go through things that we ended up never eating (for various reasons) at that time and purge or move it forward like the grocery stores do. Really, that should happen on a regular basis. With my system fully in place it will.
A little rabbit trail…
You know we moved. I told that a few times already. When we did, we had some helpers. God Bless those helpers! They were so very awesome. Seriously relieved many headaches. When the helpers were helping. It was suggested by who knows who that the upright freezer never be unpacked. So, away it went into the moving truck full of food.
Yet, there was a bit of a trick to getting it into the truck and all the beautifully organized food quickly became unorganized. That was what I expected. Removing the freezer full of food from the truck was not quite as easy. We quickly emptied said freezer to make it easier and then more wonderful helpers placed it as best as they could in the freezer. I haven’t seen to it since that day.
It’s about time I do now.
With that, we also have our refrigerator freezer that has quickly been made a mess. Within two weeks of living here it got out of control, at least according to my standards.
And the actual fridge? Yes, it’s fate has been the same.
Once we tackle these three wonders of the industrial world, we will stay on top of them.
In fact, each week we will take about 20 minutes of one day to make sure these tools are in tip top shape.
We will do that just before we head to the store. When we return, we will have a simply easy breezy time unpacking our finds.
How do you like that? Personally, I love it 🙂
Wow how I digressed! Let’s get back to those boxes shall we?
Back to the Boxes
Grab some boxes. You will want any kind that you can find. If you don’t have cardboard laying around the house use:
- plastic boxes
- clothes hampers
Organize as you pull it out. Just like yesterday but slightly varied. We will organize according to food type:
- Chicken all together. If you really want to organize do it by breast, thighs, whole, etc.
- Beef: steaks by type, roasts by type, ground beef, etc.
- If you do other meats do the same.
- You could combine all red meats and white meats too.
- Do the same if you have frozen fish.
We have to buy frozen We live in Colorado and do not have the luxury of fresh caught fish. Our best fish comes from flash frozen wild caught companies. So it must be frozen. Our family also has frozen meals in the freezer ready to be thawed and baked. Those go in their own box. Frozen vegetables and fruits each have their own box. You get the picture right? Do what works best for you.
While you are doing this, throw away anything that has expired to the point of being inedible or any thing that has become frost bitten. You don’t want to eat that, I promise, I have tried. Not good.
Time for Cleaning
Because we just moved here we do not have any frost build up. You may. This must be taken care of before you clean. If you have your freezer in a place where it become hot and cold this it will build up.
I have a method that has come in handy for that.
- I wrap blankets around my boxes of frozen food and on top of them.
- I place towel at the base of the freezer to catch drips of water and ice. Trust me you will need it.
- Unplug the freezer for a bit, just long enough to induce a slight thaw.
- Leave the door open during this process because it helps the thawing process.
- Then, I use my ice scraper with some gloves to get the job done faster.
I have one of those ice scrapers that has a brush and a scraper. I scrape carefully making sure that I do not damage any coils or cords that exist in the freezer box. I use the brush more than the scraper usually. This helps the frost and ice go through the racks and to the bottom of the freezer.
Now you see why I needed the towel. I try to get all of the ice and frost carefully placed onto the towel and then wrap the towel into a tight ball and shake it out outside. I use the towel to dry up any water that may still be lingering. Sometimes a second towel is necessary.
Now I use some type of disinfectant spray to remove any unwanted smells and give it a little lovin’. Plug the cord back into the wall and start to reload your freezer. Key 😉
You will want to organize it in a way that best suites your family. I do mine like this, starting with the top shelf:
- Frozen Fruits and Veggies (side door if I run out of room)
- Ground Beef
- Steaks and Roasts
- Chicken, Turkey, and Fish
- Extra Meats
- Dairy and Lunch Meat in side door
While I am taking out the food or placing it back into the freezer I am making the list. You can use my printable here. My Freezer This has sections that are unlabeled for you to use. I can’t assume I know what you keep in your freezer
Keeping a list will keep you on track for buying in bulk when you see the prices go low. It will also be a handy tool when you are making your menu’s in the future.
You will use the same method for your refrigerator freezer and your actual refrigerator. We each have our own methods for how we like things laid out. If you don’t have one for your refrigerator, take a look at my method and see if it will work for you.
We have some shorter kids, so I make food that they will get into more frequently easier to reach. Top shelf first:
- Rarely used condiments and specialty foods
- Dairy Milk, Almond Milk, yogurt, sour cream and leftovers
- Meat drawer: Meats and cheeses
- Both Drawers are used for veggies unless we have fresh berries
- Side door: Butter, soda, all condiments that can fit and nut flours
My refrigerator freezer may end up being used as a regular refrigerator. We are considering changing the temperature to make 38 degrees. If we do, it will allow us to stock up a little better at the warehouse stores. If not, it will remain like it is now.
After I have planned the menu for the week and completed my shopping I stock the refrigerator freezer with anything that I will need for the week. This hasn’t been happening since we moved but we did it in the past and it was really nice.
What about a printable for the fridge? I don’t use one. I don’t need it. That is what my menu is basically for.
You may not have this many freezers and contraptions. If not, yay! This will happen really quickly for you. If you have more, we both know you have your work cut out for you. Take some time to get it done as you know it will help in the long run. Maybe carve out some time each day and tackle one freezer at a time.
There are many more tips I can give, but I won’t this is what works best for me. At the end of this week I will share some helpful tips from other blogging buddies of mine and some book recommendations if you desire to further hone your food organizing skills and planning skills.
P.S. Note that I do have foods that are not on plan for THM in my fridge. I haven’t been able to get hubby fully on board yet. In time. So don’t shame me please. And for all you Purists our there. This has been a busy season where I have had to let some of my Purist methods go. They will come back soon. When I get everything under control again.
What works for you? Do you actually do this? Will this be the first time for you? Let me know what your freezer looks like… I know you want to 😉