Strategic Chest Freezer Organization for Power Outages

by Darcy Menard of stumblinghomestead.com. Stumbling Homestead is a blog and weekly podcast about family homesteading and the role of kids in raising cows and chickens, composting, gardening, and food production.

Note From Nick LaDieu: I just got a 15 cubic feet chest freezer, thanks for the timely article!


Our family stores a variety of foods in our chest freezer: our cow and pig shares, seafood, chicken, blanched vegetables, cheese, nuts, tortilla shells, etc. Up until recently, it’s been a jumbled pile of disorganization that often left us unsure about what was inside. Also, to get something out requires digging through a shifting pile of frozen items until our hands are numb. And, unless you want to lay out the contents of the freezer on the floor, you’re never sure if you don’t have the item, or just can’t find it.

But an even bigger problem for me was a potential power outage. Sure, we’ve got a generator standing by for that eventuality, but what if that fails for some reason? Or what if the freezer breaks down? Even if things started to only partially thaw, there’s the potential to have chicken or pork blood contaminate the other items. And I don’t relish the thought of overcooking my beef or veggies just to be safe from potential pathogens introduced by chicken and pork drippings. So, I’ve been wanting to segregate my frozen foods by type for a while now.

As if reading my thoughts, there was a similar listener question about chest freezer organization on a recent episode of The Survival Podcast. Jack’s answer of using baskets gave me the perfect solution to my problem of preventing drippings: the baskets allow me to stack my food in layers that puts the riskier items on the bottom.

As shown in the top of this post, all chicken is on the bottom layer of the freezer.

The second layer is two baskets of pork on the right. On the left, my larger beef cuts sit higher up on the shelf over the freezer motor. I also filled in the gaps with cold packs. No risk there.

Second Layer
The third layer is another 3 baskets of beef cuts, ground beef, and seafood. I used the remainder of the raised shelf space for cheese, and nuts, and put some frozen shrimp into the gap at the front. All of these items are safely above the potential drip zone.

Third Layer

Finally, the top layer is the removable tray, which holds miscellaneous items like tortilla shells. I also put vegetables, other seafood, and bread on this top layer.

Fourth Layer

It’s hard to tell from the pictures, but this makes it much easier to get at things on the bottom. All I have to do is remove a basket or two. And not only do I now have a risk-free segregation of my food, but I now know where everything is, and how much of everything I have.

Thanks for the idea Jack.

Author: Darcy Menard

Darcy Menard hosts a weekly homesteading podcast, Stumbling Homestead. He also has a family homesteading blog of the same name. His family recently moved from an urban to a rural location to get more connected with their food supply. If you are interested in the role of kids and family in raising cows and chickens, composting, gardening, and food production, check out the blog and listen to the podcast on iTunes.

  • Jon

    Darcy,
    Thanks for the good tips for organizing your frozen food.

    One thing I just wanted to mention is for people like Nick who just bought a chest freezer, or who haven’t filled theirs up yet.

    The more empty space you have in your freezer, the more energy it will consume. So if you have a lot of empty space, consider filling it up.

    One cheap way to do this is with plastic gallon jugs. Fill them with water. (not all the way -save some room for expansion) Then put them in your freezer to fill up the extra space. To make it convenient, fill up the bottom of the freezer with a layer of frozen gallon jugs, then put your frozen foods on top of that.

    This will help you to save energy until you fill up the whole freezer.

  • Yes, excellent point Jon. We did the same, and gradually took out things like ice packs and frozen water jugs as we acquired more food items.

  • Karen

    Brilliant idea! And me with a messy chest freezer…I know that ‘buckets’ worked really well in the fridge’s freezer to keep things from falling out, but I kinda sorta gotta go clean them out again [they are Sterlite storage containers minus the lids, size that fits best in the freezer].

  • Doug

    I want to do this in my chest freezer. What are to baskets and where can I get them?

  • I got wire baskets from a local big box store called Fred Meyer. These were in the office/storage section, and I think I paid 3 or 4 dollars for each on sale. I bet you can find these at most similar stores. They come in different sizes, so measure your freezer ahead of time. And make sure that they stack nicely on top of one another so that they don’t slide around when in the freezer.

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