I recently defrosted our upright freezer and am proud to report that the only thing I had to toss was an unlabled package of walleye filets. It was also the only unlabled item I found. A few years ago I started to keep a list of frozen stuff in the freezer. This is a meat and prepared foods list, not for obvious stuff such as ice cream. I started that list after finding four freezer-burned-almost-beyond-identification t-bone steaks.
re: John E.
I have a friend who does the same thing with his big chest freezer. He recently bought bins to put everything in, numbered them, and added that info to his list. IIRC, he's got the bins 2 deep and 3-4 across, with room on one end for upright things like whole salmon. Seems to work pretty well.
Longer storage and bulk items in the basement freezer. Quick use items in the kitchen freezer. Most freezer-only units do a better job of keeping things completely frozen because they don't get opened as often and aren't attached to a fridge that gets opened/closed a lot.
One thing I've learned through the years though is that freezers work best when more than 50% full but not to the point that food gets lost or overlooked.
Common sense. Put what you use frequently in the house and what you use less often in the garage or basement fridge or freezer.
We have one fridge in the house, a second fridge in the garage along with the deep freezer. The house freezer only has ice cream, yeast, bread ( I don't go through it fast enough to keep it room temp), and anything else we plan to use regularly.
The chest freezer in the garage has all frozen meat and anything expecting to be kept for longer storage or used infrequently. Extra butter and my bulk flour for example.
Fridge in the garage: extra milk & juice, the dogs raw meat, beer, soda, extra cheese or dairy products with a long shelf life that aren't immediately needed in the house, the carrots I use for juicing. Occasional bulky items like whole cakes that I don't have room for in the house fridge.
Meat and poultry for sure go in the basement freezer, as do most things that are wrapped in plastic that can tumble out. Extra butters and party ice go there too. I like bins in upright freezers over chests for everything but my annual 1/2 beef and whole salmon.
Upstairs, I keep some stock, goose fat, sauce cubes, e.g., pesto, confits, booze, and convenience foods like pre-made tortellini, chicken pot pies, etc. This leaves me enough room so that I don't "lose" things, and a little floorspace left over for freezing leftovers, stocks, and bulk meat cuts that I break down--these are theoretically supposed go downstairs.
What's a "garage or basement fridge"? Is that anything like a Beer Fridge?
We have a french door bottom freezer in the house, and share a big upright freezer with our son, who lives in our neighborhood. In house, we transfer all beef, chicken and pork into freezer bags in portions for 2 people. Those get labelled with item name, month and year. Ground meats go into qt-size bags, pressed flat. It's a fairly spacious freezer and we can store about a month's worth of meat, chicken and fish, in addition to frozen veg, pizzas and such. We have very few boxed items, almost everything gets removed from it's box and if necessary, transferred to a freezer bag. This really increases the storage.
At our son's house we keep whole chickens, turkey breasts, roasts, anything bulky. It's also where we keep excess of things we've bought on sale.
+1 on this method. I also keep items that are frozen/not likely to be consumed in the foreseeable future. You know, those bake sale fundraiser cookies/cakes that you HAVE to buy....but never eat.
I should also add that my garage fridge - 1 floor below the kitchen (I live in a townhome) is 30+ years old (General Electric freezer on top) and has never needed service. My kitchen fridge - Kenmore sidexside - is about 10 years old and has been serviced twice (1st time the compressor had to be replaced). I almost got rid of the GE as it is never completely filled tho it is great when I am entertaining and need more fridge space. Now I'll never get rid of it, unless I downsize to an apt without a garage. It's an energy hog to boot.