Our Chest Freezer Organization System

Costco memberships and chest freezers go hand-in-hand; I can’t imagine trying to fit everything we buy at Costco into our regular freezer! But even though chest freezers are super useful for long term storage, they can be a little tricky to organize. Basically they’re just a giant rectangular box, and if the thing is full of frozen food, you have to dig around to get to the stuff at the bottom. I finally got fed up with how disorganized our chest freezer was, so I decided to get it organized. It turns out it was really simple to do! Our chest freezer organization system is easy to implement, easy to maintain, and inexpensive; all you need are some dollar store bins and about a half an hour!

Organize your chest freezer in under half an hour with dollar store bins! Great chest freezer organization system; easy to maintain too!

My favorite thing about this organization system is that it’s easy to maintain. It sucks when you spend hours getting something organized, only to have it all fall apart a few weeks later because the system wasn’t simple to maintain. But that’s not a problem here! Everything is organized by type, so it’s easy to find things when we need them, and it’s easy to put away new things when we buy them!

I also set up a chest freezer inventory system so that I can keep track of what we need to buy without having to open the freezer!

Our Chest Freezer Organization System

Here’s what our chest freezer looked like before I got it organized. The chest freezer came with those two blue baskets, and they’re helpful for separating some things out from the others, but everything else was just thrown in the bottom half of the freezer. If I wanted to find the frozen dinner rolls, I had to dig past the frozen pizza, frozen soups, and frozen green beans to find them. Blech!

Chest Freezer Organization System 3

I figured the most useful way to organize a chest freezer would be to put “like” items together into small bins that could easily be stacked and unstacked. I started by measuring the inside of my freezer to make sure I knew how many bins would fit front to back, side to side, and how many I could stack on top of each other without running into the blue bins that came with the freezer. I also measured inside the blue bins, because it never hurts to have even more organization options!

I went to the dollar store and came back with 12 bins, four each of three different sizes.

Chest Freezer Organization System 5

You don’t need to get these exact bins to organize your chest freezer, and in fact, you shouldn’t, because they probably aren’t quite the right size for your freezer! When picking out bins, the important things are:

  • The bins should fit in your freezer! Measure the inside dimensions of your freezer, including the height under any baskets that sit on top. Then when you’re picking out bins, set a few of them next to each other and measure to make sure that they’ll fit inside your freezer.
  • The bins should have easy-to-access handles so that you can easily lift the bins out of the freezer to get at the bins below.
  • The bins should be square or rectangular to make the most of the room in the freezer. Round baskets won’t efficiently use the space in your freezer because you will have gaps between the baskets.
  • If you can find bins in different colors, that’s great! Use the colors to help separate different types of foods (i.e. chicken in the orange basket and beef in the blue one, etc.)
  • Don’t worry too much about finding bins that are meant to stack together. I’ve found this actually limits you because you can’t have anything in the bin that sticks slightly out past the top, or the next bin won’t stack on it properly. I bought nesting bins (as you can see in the photo above) and I just fill up one bin and then set the second bin down on top of whatever is in the first bin. Since it’s all frozen anyway, you’re not going to smash anything accidentally. 🙂 The bins do tip ever so slightly if the stuff in the bottom bin isn’t nice and flat, but since my freezer is only large enough to stack two bins high underneath the blue baskets at the top, it works out just fine.

Once you have your bins, start by emptying your entire chest freezer. Pull everything out and set it aside so that you can see it all. Take this time to consolidate any bags of things, or pull separately bagged items out of boxes, etc. For example, we have a large bag of frozen salmon filets that are each individually sealed; the large bag does us no good, so I pulled each filet out and tossed the large bag. That way I can see exactly how many filets we have, and the freezer space isn’t cluttered with extra packaging.

Chest Freezer Organization System 4

Take stock of what you have and start sorting out items into your different bins. This process will be different for everyone, depending on what types of things you have in your chest freezer. But for example, I now have one bin for chicken, one bin for pork, one bin for beef, and one bin for fish and seafood. I also have a bin for breads and bagels and a bin for small ready-to-eat or ready-to-heat items.

Now, some things are best stored in their original packaging; just because you can fit it into a bin doesn’t mean you should. Frozen pizza, for example, should probably stay in its box. The box is nice and rectangular and will stand up on end in your freezer. If you just open one end of the box you can easily get at the pizzas, and the box will help keep them upright. Other things I leave in their original packaging are things like potstickers, bagels, tortillas, frozen veggies and fruits, etc. Just take a look at the types of things you have in your freezer and figure out what will work best for you.

Once you have your foods organized into your bins, start putting the bins back into the freezer. Put the food that you use less often into bins on the bottom, and stack the foods you use more often into the top set of bins.

Chest Freezer Organization System 7

If your freezer has extra baskets that came with it, you can use smaller bins to help break those up into multiple storage areas if you wish.

Chest Freezer Organization System 6

Don’t worry about filling your entire freezer with bins full of food. As I mentioned before, sometimes it just makes sense to leave foods in their original packaging. Just stick those things over to one side so you know where they are, and fill the other side of your freezer with bins.

Now, it’s true that if you didn’t use the bins, and instead stacked your food up and “tetris-ed” it all together, you could cram a bunch more stuff into your chest freezer. But then you would have to unstack everything to get to what’s at the bottom, and, at least for me, the small amount of usable space I lose by using bins and baskets is totally worth the ease of access to my frozen foods!

When we come home with frozen food that needs to go into the chest freezer, it’s easy to find the right bin to put it in; even if that bin is at the bottom, I can easily lift up the top bins and set them aside to get into the lower bins. And when we want to pull something out of the freezer for dinner, it’s easy to find; I don’t have to rummage through the entire freezer, just through one bin to find what I need!

Organize your chest freezer in under half an hour with dollar store bins! Great chest freezer organization system; easy to maintain too!

Do you have a chest freezer? And if so, how do you organize it?

If getting your frozen foods organized into your chest freezer isn’t enough, I shared how I created a freezer inventory (and how I maintain it so it always has the most up-to-date info!) so I know exactly what’s in my freezer all the time!

Organize your chest freezer in under half an hour with dollar store bins! Great chest freezer organization system; easy to maintain too!

Want to share this tutorial with your friends? Just click any of the share buttons on the left to share with Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, etc.!


Jessi Wohlwend

I believe that anyone can do crafts and DIY projects, regardless of skill or experience. I love sharing simple craft ideas, step by step DIY project tutorials, cleaning hacks, and other tips and tricks all with one goal in mind: giving you the tools you need to “do it yourself”, complete fun projects, and make awesome things!

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Reader Interactions

  1. Ashley says

    6 years ago

    I had no idea you could freeze butter! Good to know!
    I’ve tried to freeze cheese before too (from Costco) but I felt I need to pre-portion it. I see you dont. How do you break frozen cheese out of the bag?

    • Jessi Wohlwend says

      6 years ago

      We just bring up a bag of frozen cheese and stick it in the fridge when we run out. We don’t actually use it from frozen.

    • mlaiuppa says

      4 years ago

      You can also freeze milk (only fill 3/4 of the container), beaten eggs and cheese. You can pre-cut cheese. You can freeze shredded cheese but don’t shred your own and then freeze it or it will clump. Shred it after you thaw it out a block. If you’re making pastry grating frozen butter is actually easier than trying to cut it in with a pastry cutter.

  2. kristin says

    6 years ago

    I need to do this, our freezer is horrible!

  3. Peggy Zortman says

    6 years ago

    This was on my list for this month. Our chest freezer is driving me crazy! Thank you! What a brilliant idea! Headed to the freezer with paper and tape measure in hand.

  4. Shelli says

    7 years ago

    Where are the purple/periwinkle baskets that you hang at the top from?

  5. Jane says

    7 years ago

    Do you find that the cheap baskets erode over time in the freezer? I’ve tried this before with big plastic boxes from kmart and with extended periods in the freezer they’re shattering constantly… and they’re meant to be for the freezer! Curious to know how your basket are holding up??

    • Jessi Wohlwend says

      7 years ago

      Aww bummer, that stinks! The cheap baskets I got from the dollar store are actually holding up really well! They’re kind of a flexible plastic to begin with, and I’ve noticed that even in the freezer they’re still pretty flexible and forgiving; I can kinda smush them around to get them in and out past other frozen things with no issue. They definitely don’t shatter, and they haven’t even cracked or anything!

      • Jane says

        7 years ago

        will have to give it a go 🙂

  6. Y. Maxfield says

    8 years ago

    We purchased four stacking recycling bins from the Container Store. We separate our meats into those four bins: Steaks/Roasts, Ground Beef, Chicken, and Pork. We also have two large Freeze ‘N Go bags that I purchased at HomeGoods that we use to store things like popsicles & yogurt for the kids in one, and Deer meat in the other. The plastic bin that came with the freezer contains individual small bags of frozen veggies and frozen breakfast items like pancakes.

  7. Tricia says

    8 years ago

    Where did you get the white bins that are at the top?

  8. Jill from Jill on the Hill says

    8 years ago

    Love this! I have a chest freezer….kicking myself for not getting an upright- Oh well. I’m curious how you broke down your categories. I tried to figure it out by the picture, but couldn’t do it! Any suggestions??

    • Jessi Wohlwend says

      8 years ago

      Mostly I broke it down into the same categories that I used on our freezer inventory system (https://www.practicallyfunctional.com/simple-chest-freezer-inventory-system/) with a few differences. Each type of meat is in it’s own bin (chicken, pork, beef, etc.), and there’s a bin for bread products, and ready to heat meals. The two smaller bins that slide along the top of the freezer have frozen produce and dairy. But you should set it up based on the types of things you have in your freezer! When you pull it all out of your freezer, group things together by like item, and then you’ll have a better idea of what groups you need when you’re putting things away.

    • Estella says

      4 years ago

      I saw a video or two on you tube. Bree’s project book show you exactly how to organize a chest freezer in three layers using different types of storage containers and the strategy of putting certain types of foods in different bins. Like chicken in one bin, pork in another bin and beef in a third bin. She gives ideas of how you dump any cardboard boxes they may have come in if they are sealed and easy to identify. You use a magic marker and write the date purchased on it and what it is. Ie salmon filet blackened, 5/1/2020. Things that aren’t individually wrapped can be placed in zip log bags and grouped in numbers for your family. Like if there are three of you you can place three or more salmon patties in a zip log bag depending on how many your family consumes in one meal. Veggies and side go in another bin so you can easily grab some broccoli or some Mac & cheese to go with your meat. Desserts and snacks to grab and run or frozen waffles or pancakes etc go in a bin for on the top layer. Breads, rolls, bagels cookies, go in a baked goods bin. Hope this helps.

  9. Carla says

    8 years ago

    This is terrific! I searched on Pinterest on how to organize my chest freezer. Ended up using two milk crates. It works but I have to remove the top one to get to the meat. But it’s better than throwing it all in. The right side is oddly shaped, so I use the canvas shopping bags. Those are great for loose items. Or for this odds and ends. Actuall it might be easier to use all canvas bags. I got several of them from my local
    Meijer. Keeping them all the same makes it easier.

    • Lisa says

      6 years ago

      I’d be curious to see a pic of your freezer and the canvas bags!

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