UFO – Unidentified Frozen Object

Cindy’s Weekly Wisdom

In Honor of Tuesday’s Mini Mission

Imagine your freezer, nice and tidy, not too empty and not too full. Now imagine dumping it all out on the floor, scrambling it around, and shoving the frozen food back in willy-nilly. Whew! That’s a mess. Now double the amount of food and really cram it in there. That’s what my freezer looked like last year.

I decided to do something about it. Just like with any other major decluttering and organizing project, before I began, I got boxes and my label maker. I was ready. I did this cleaning in winter in the garage, so there was no worry about defrosting. I started removing the food and sorting it by category: vegetables, chicken, ice cream, beef, and leftovers all went into separate boxes. Not surprisingly, I unearthed a Ziploc bag of soup that was 2 years old and some frozen tidbits that I couldn’t identify, but the thing that did surprise me was the broccoli. I buy broccoli in four pound bags from Costco. There were two full bags and one half bag jammed into the freezer. Nine pounds of broccoli!

While all the food was out, I wiped down the freezer and cleaned up all the sticky blobs. Then I reloaded, keeping like with like. Certain shelves were dedicated to certain things. I left the meat and bags of veggies (except my truck load of broccoli) in low-sided boxes and labelled the outside of the boxes: chicken, pork, beef, veggies, potatoes. Of course, I had to juggle things around until I could find a pattern that worked best. Once everything was back in, I labelled the shelves, as well.

Before I ran out of steam, I hit the refrigerator freezer, too. I removed everything that wasn’t used frequently and sorted it into the big freezer. (Quick to do, since I’d just finished out there.) Leaving in the house only the items that are frequently used, I organized what remained and labelled the shelves.

We ate and ate, and I did see a lowering of my grocery bill for the first two months. I had my own grocery store in my garage and hadn’t even realized it! This system has been in place for months now, and it works wonderfully for me. I buy less; I can find everything. Your freezer and its contents represent a major investment; shouldn’t it be as organized, useful and free of UFOs (Unidentified Frozen Objects) as any other space in your home?

Today’s Declutter Item

Reams of binder paper that I should have donated in America before we left. It has been lingering here for over three years and I am over it. I sent it to the thrift store in the hope that it might be immediately useful to someone else. I still have enough scratch paper to keep me going for a very long time. It is amazing how little paper one really uses in this age of computer technology.

Binder Paper 19JAN2011

Things I am grateful for today

  • A cooler overcast day – It has been very hot here lately and I could do with the reprieve.
  • Being reminded how lucky I am – Thanks Amber
  • Fresh Juicy Apples – One of these at lunch after a big fat scone with jam and cream for morning-tea is a balanced diet, right?
  • No more visits for Liam to the Maxillofacial Specialist – His jaw is in good shape all things considered and he doesn’t need any more check ups. That’s one down now just the 6 month dental, the physiotherapy, the speech therapist, the neuropsychologist and the clearance from the neurologist to go. Hopefully the last  4 will be done in the next week. Then that will just leave the dentist. Yay!
  • My darling husband– Who goes to work five days a week to keep me in the manner to which I have become accustomed. Lets face it he is good at it and I deserve it!

It matters not how fast I go, I hurry faster when I’m slow.

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  1. Cleaned out the glove compartment today. I tried not to, saying, “Oh, there’s hardly anything in there,” but I made myself. I was right – it was pretty clean. Nonetheless, I found a flashlight that Dan has been missing, and he’s delighted, plus a couple of unnecessary pieces of paper, and some diabetes supplies that were not the kind that Clara uses any more. Plus seven more pens and pencils. (Not surprisingly, all of the pencils needed to be sharpened.) Glad I overcame my resistance.

  2. Oh, Cindy! I do know what you mean. I’m still trying to convince my Mom that we don’t need to keep things that long and we can throw out old food left over from some party or event or whatever. The freezer in the shed is now cleaned out. The fridge freezer is still to do. I’m working on it. Grin.

    Colleen, taking that paper to the thrift store is a great idea. I’m sure someone can use it. It’s great news about Liam. I wanted you to know that my glove campartment is in great shape. I have two thin, 4X3 lidded containers in there. One holds a mechanical pencil, fingernail clippers, emory board, extra lead, and a small pocket knife. The other holds the car registration, our insurance card and the inspection receipt. Add the car manual, a small pad of paper and the cell phone and that’s it. All nice and clean. the center console is the same. We have a box of Altoids and some hard candy (in case I have a blood sugar drop) in the lidded section. We have nothing in the cup holders. We have a first aid box under the front seat. That’s it. All nice and clean and organized. Love it.

    • Wow Deb J you have really excelled yourself. Now I feel like I need to go and clean my car out. Actually I do, it isn’t full of clutter but it is coated in a fine layer of dust mostly dead skin cells from my ever sloughing 46 year old dry fair skin. It is little a mini snow storm in there and I vow I will never have another car with a dark interior ever again.

  3. I’m a day behind on mini mission because yesterday afternoon I was overcome by some kind of virus. I’m feeling better today so I’m going to delve in to the maps stored in the glove box of the car.

  4. Again, Cindy, you’ve found another of my weak spots: the dreaded freezer! We only have 2 shelves, but they are usually a mess. My husband is the one who sorts and tosses stuff regularly. I need to be more organised here! One tip I have regarding frozen meat: I buy mince and chicken pieces in 500g bags from my butcher and flatten them as much as possible before freezing. That way I can stack 6 bags on top of each other, see how many I have left, and they defrost a LOT quicker than if they are frozen in a ball.

    • I think it would be very difficult for me to manage with just two freezer shelves. Where would I store my truck load of broccoli? It’s amazing how much better you will feel and how much easier meals are to prepare with a tidy freezer. My parents used to keep a list on the outside of the freezer and cross off as they took things out. Now that’s an organized freezer!

  5. Well, Cindy, I was pretty impressed with myself, having removed and thawed 2 cups of shredded zucchini for bread, that is, until I read your project. Wow! What my freezer most needs now is a good defrosting, the last one having been when we moved it here, August 2004! It won’t happen until the weather is warmer, however.

    I forgot the glove box. Will go do it now before it rains/snows.

    • August 2004?!? That freezer is overdue for a good thawing. A hair dryer pinched in the freezer door or pans of hot water will help the process go quicker.

      Don’t feel bad about “just” using two cups of zucchini. First of all, you obviously had the foresight to grate and store the zucchini so that it wouldn’t be wasted. Secondly, my project was a major undertaking, a maxi-mission, not a mini-mission.

    • Hi Susan S,
      I was surprised you called it a glove box I didn’t think Americans used that term.

      • Colleen: I have to ask, what do you call it if not a glove box? My parents call it that, along with everyone I can think of. You’ve got me stumped now. Hmmmmmm

        • Hi Gen, I call it a glove box but I thought Americans called it a Glove compartment or something like that. I am Australian by the way.

          • Colleen,
            I’ve heard it called both a glove compartment and a glove box. I live in Missouri. I’m enjoying all the old blog posts by the way!

  6. I really appreciate your cleaning out the freezer comments. I have a chest freezer and last year a brilliant friend suggested a clever means of organizing the freezer. The suggestion is to use the cloth shopping bags that we all accumulate. Sort the frozen foods by category and stash in the cloth bags. Color coordinating if desired. I did this, eliminating vintage foods and find that it makes it so easy to inventory what is in the chest freezer.

    One bag holds precooked meats, one for beef, one vegies, one chicken, one cheeses, one for dairy and other baking products like butter, bread doughs, yeasts, etc.

    Not only can I inventory quickly, I can lift out the specific sack and rummage for that special cut of meat or vegie without standing with the freezer door open. When it is time to defrost, it is easy to lift out these sacks and clean the freezer. I wash it down with warm soapy water and use a wet/dry vac to suck it out as there is no drain on my freezer. It is very efficient from start to finish. While it is cooling back down, I sort the foods in the sacks and replace them in the freezer. Start to finish about 15 minutes.

    It has also inspired me to use the freezer inventory more often. It looks so neat, I would find myself opening the door just to admire it. LOL If this will inspire others to get organized, there is just no down side to it. Wish I could say it was my original idea, but not!
    I love it!

    • Hi Kristi E,
      that is a great way to sort your freezer I must say. Although it wouldn’t work for me because my freezer is 21in wide x 12 in high x 19in deep so I wouldn’t fit too many bags in there although it could work. I really like the ease of lifting everything out to clean it.
      By the way welcome to 365lessthings I think this is your first comment, is it not? It is good to add your voice to our community.

    • Hi Kristi E – Huge thanks for this idea – we too have a chest freezer and I’ve never been able to keep it organized. This will work!! I’m looking forward to “opening the door just to admire it” like you do and like I already do with other areas I’ve cleaned (aren’t we easily amused) 🙂

    • I’ve always thought chest freezers were black holes. I’m impressed that you found such a great way of dealing with yours.

  7. Hi Cindy,
    good post! Judging from the comments having two freezer locations in the home is a common thing. I used to have a little extra freezer in my garage but gave it away before I started 365lessthings. I found I didn’t really need the freezer space which is all the more unusual because the freezer attached to my refrigerator is tiny. Granted we don’t eat that much meat any more but with a supermarket close by I don’t feel the need to store food and pay the extra electricity when the supermarket is quite capable of doing that for me at their expense.

    • There’s another benefit to not having a lot of frozen food – if the power goes out for an extended period of time, you can lose everything in the freezer. I know this is not the worst thing that has happened to all those driven from their homes by the floods in your country, but it’s one more loss for them.

      • Hi Jo,
        you are so right about that. The was footage of some guys buy up cool goods when the floods waters were rising. That would have worked out real well for them if they lost their power. Maybe they had a generator.

      • I once didn’t close the freezer door all the way. It was heartbreaking to discover every single things had defrosted. Now I am very careful to give it a “are you closed?” pat.

    • I’ve considered (just considered) the possibility of getting rid of my freezer. I used to make a lot of food in advance and store it, which was quite convenient, but I don’t cook in such large batches anymore. Also, I’m feeding more people, so we eat more with less left to freeze. I don’t know…sounds like more than I’m willing to let go. If it died tomorrow, which is highly unlikely, I wouldn’t rush right out and buy a new one, though. If “natural decluttering” occurred, I would see how it worked out for me.

      Interestingly, when we got rid of our very old freezer, I could not tell any change in the electric bill. I figured that thing was sucking juice by the megawatt, but perhaps not.

  8. Cindy, good post. Your description made me smile and groan both – because, well, it was funny, and because it sounds like mine 🙂 I’ve often thought of boxes for my chest freezer but couldn’t figure out how to hoist them out from the bottom. So I’m going to give Kristi E’s idea of sturdy shopping bags a try. Thanks for the motivation to get this done – I WANT an organized freezer! *sniff*

  9. I have an upright freezer under the basement steps and I did not defrost for 3 years at least. Last winter, I cooked as much of the things as I could to get it down to a minimum so I could defrost. It took almost all day to defrost (used the hair dryer but forgot about using pans of hot water). I then rearranged the things that were left and am trying to put beef on one shelf – chicken and pork on another and veggies on the third. Bulk items go on the bottom. The freezer is not huge but works for us. My downfall is the refrigerator freezer upstairs and I will tackle that Memorial Day weekend.
    On Monday morning, I took my car to be washed and vacuumed, got a full tank of gas and had the car inspected and oil changed yesterday. I feel like I have run a marathon. Looks good and feels good. Told my husband this morning how thankful I was that these things were done, we had food for the table and a roof over our heads. Didn’t think until I got to work that I should have said I was thankful for him, too. Anyway, just wanted to share. So good to have big chores done.


  1. […] discussed freezer organization before. (You can read the specific organization technique I use here.) The most important thing is to make sure you know what’s in there and how to find it. My […]