So, when’s the last time you cleaned out your freezer? We mean, really cleaned it out. Was “Uptown Funk” at the top of the charts? Yeah, us too. But the freezer can be one of your best tools for sticking with your healthy eating goals. So we asked Laura Cattano, a Brooklyn-based professional organizer, for some of her best tips for cleaning out and arranging your freezer like a pro.
Consider your goals.
“The starting point of cleaning out the freezer is thinking overall about your health and diet—what are you eating and how to do you want to eat to be healthier and happier?” Cattano says. “This way you can choose to toss those things not in line with what you want to eat and avoid buying them in the future.”
One of our top goals: Eat healthy without spending a zillion hours in the kitchen. Daily Harvest is our secret weapon; they deliver healthy, super-delicious, perfectly portioned frozen harvest bowls, soups, oat and chia bowls and ready-to-blend smoothies, all made from nutrient-rich farm-fresh ingredients. They deliver weekly or monthly, so we always have their smoothies (our faves: Mint + Cacao and Pineapple + Matcha) and veggie-forward harvest bowls in the freezer (our go-tos: Butternut Squash + Chimichurri and Quinoa + Chipotle). Along with having amazing meals ready in a flash, this also helps with organization because it means we don’t have to stock as many bags of individual ingredients in the freezer—win-win.
Prep your kitchen.
Before you get started, Cattano recommends cleaning out the sink, “to make room for containers to wash.” Make sure the counter next to the freezer is clear, so everything you’re taking out has a place to go. Also, “have an empty trash can and recycling bin ready,” she says.
Toss, toss, toss!
Once you start pulling things out, “sort them into categories, like snacks, desserts, meat, fish, vegetables, fruit, smoothie ingredients,” Cattano advises.
Be ruthless in throwing things away. “Toss anything that looks freezer burned, is way past its expiration date, or is unlabeled if you can’t remember when you put in the freezer,” she says. (Not sure how long things last in the freezer? Use this handy chart.)
We also recommend throwing anything away that you weren’t thrilled with when you froze it—a la Marie Kondo’s famous advice about tossing things that don’t “spark joy.” It hurts to throw away a stew or soup you spent time and money putting together, we know—but if you didn’t love it when you froze it, we promise it hasn’t gotten better. Let it go.
Now that everything is out of the freezer, it’s the perfect time to give it a good scrub. Wipe out any dust or crumbs first. Then, “I like using a mix of warm water and a little dish soap,” Cattano says. “Wipe down all the shelves, the bottom, the sides and the top. And don’t forget the door.” Then, wipe everything with a damp, soap-free sponge, and finish with a dry cloth, she says.
Think about what you use most (or want to use most) and find a prominent place for those items, so they’re easiest to find. “Put things back by type so you can easily see what you have,” she advises. “All fruit or smoothie contents can go together, snacks, desserts, breakfast foods, meats—that way there’s no more digging, or buying something only to realize you already have it.”
A helpful organizing tool for the freezer: Clear plastic bins. “Bins make it easier to pull things in and out, and to see what you have,” Cattano says. Along with employing bins, grab that label-maker from your desk and put it to use. “Label everything as you put it away so you can easily see what you have,” she notes. “Include the date; you can also put a ‘trash date’ on the label so you know when to toss it in the future if you haven’t used it.”
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