Since this type of freezer is narrow (typically only 14 to 23 inches wide), you’ll need to be strategic. Remove store-bought frozen foods from their cardboard boxes, which eat up valuable real estate, and store them in a slim bin. (Snip off the cooking instructions and keep them in the bin as well.) Freeze soups and sauces flat in ziplock bags; once they’re frozen solid, stash them vertically. This method speeds up thaw time too—simply place the bag under lukewarm running water.
You use this type of freezer with the best of intentions…but then that value pack of chicken thighs gets lost in a frosty black hole and goes to waste. To avoid frustration, sort food by type—all veggies in one bag, all meat in another—so you can lift the entire thing up and out. Since a chest can hold much more food than a traditional freezer, keep track of items by jotting your inventory on the door with a dry-erase marker.
These freezers usually come with a horizontal shelf dividing the space in half. Use that visual separation to help you create zones, and be diligent about maintaining them. Don’t go overboard—stick to a few easy-to-remember categories, like leftovers and premade meals, frozen fruits and veggies, and meats. If your freezer doesn’t have a shelf, add your own to prevent teetering towers of frozen goods.