Whether you just got a walk-in or are trying to update an existing system, learning tips for organizing your walk-in freezer will benefit both the quality of your food and the health of your freezer. From shelving decisions to labeling, there’s a lot going on in your walk-in. Use these tips to help you organize your walk-in freezer!
Tips for Organizing #1: Appropriate Shelving and Storage
Choosing effective shelving and storage containers will set your walk-in freezer organization system up for success. The first step is arranging your shelving. For the most utilitarian setup for a walk-in, arrange shelves around the perimeter of the freezer, leaving a center walkway. That way, you have access to every shelf with nothing hidden. When picking shelves, make sure they have the certification from the National Sanitation Foundation (NSF). Shelves marked with the blue label indicate the NSF has approved them to be fit for food storage and consumer safety.
After you have decided the most appropriate layout of shelving, you’ll need to determine which type of shelving will best fit your needs. This handy chart will aid in your decision-making process.
|Chrome wire||Sturdy, less expensive, highly visible||More prone to rust in more humid environments|
|Epoxy coated||Sturdy, heavier, more resistant to rust, more color options||More expensive|
|Polymer coated||Are almost rust-proof, coated in plastic that is washable, lighter||More expensive, the colder environment of a freezer means that the rust-proofing may be unnecessary|
|Stainless steel||Extremely durable, naturally corrosion resistant||More expensive|
|Antimicrobial||Can be combined with any other type of shelving, added protection of an antimicrobial coating||More expensive|
Once your shelving is in place, storage containers will help keep your products organized. Similar to shelving, certain containers have ratings for commercial freezers. Make sure your chosen containers are appropriate for the type of product you will store in them. Additionally, proper storage containers can be sized to fit perfectly on your shelves and stack together. And if you have a spill, it will be contained, making clean-up simple! Choosing the right storage system will make organizing your products simple. No more walk-in freezer Tetris games!
Proper shelves and storage containers are the first steps for organizing your walk-in freezer. Having systemized organization will increase staff efficiency, open up more space for products, and stay consistent with health codes.
Tips for Organizing #2: Give Space for Circulation and Cleaning
Now that you have your shelves and containers along with a basic layout for the walk-in freezer organization, you can start considering how to stock the shelves. During this stage, be mindful of airflow. Air circulation is critical to a well-functioning freezer. Your refrigeration unit works hard to keep the temperatures down. Proper organization can help reduce stress on the cooling unit while allowing the cool air to circulate evenly around the product.
The most important thing to remember here is space. While it may be tempting to pack your freezer full, giving products a couple of inches of buffer on all sides will keep them more evenly frozen. As a result, your freezer will work efficiently and increase the longevity of your food. Additionally, give two inches of space between the shelves and the walls of the freezer, and never stack product around or near the refrigeration unit. Though it may seem counterintuitive, proper spacing will allow you to store product more efficiently and reduce waste in the long term.
When thinking about spacing your products in your freezer, also consider leaving space beneath your shelves. In general, set your bottom shelf six inches above the floor and don’t store anything below it. Elevating the food will protect it from dirt, grime, and pests. Additionally, six inches allows enough room to easily clean under the shelves. On foodservice applications, raising the bottom shelf six inches off the ground will help your business stay in compliance with health codes.
Tips for Organizing #3: Separate Meats
With your shelves set up and your storage bins arranged, now you can figure out how to organize your product. In general, most of your choices should reflect what’s convenient for you and your staff. However, for health codes, some products work better in a certain part of your walk-in freezer. For example, meats should be stored on the bottom shelf. In the rare case that they leak, they wouldn’t contaminate any other products since they are just above the floor.
Tips for Organizing #4: Label Everything!
No matter where you decide to place your products, the most important part of organizing your walk-in freezer is developing a clear labeling system. On each product, attach a clear, freezer-safe label with the name and relevant date on the food. Notes to record include the following: the purchase or preparation date, the freeze date, and the opening date. When labeling food, it’s best to not take any chances. A misinterpretation of a date could risk a health code violation.
First In, First Out
In addition to a flawless labeling system, be sure to follow the “First In, First Out” (FIFO) rule. Not only label your products with the date but use the dates to inform your organization system. That way, you’ll make sure to use your frozen items in the order that you added them to the walk-in freezer.
Benefits of a Well-Organized Freezer
Keeping your walk-in freezer well-organized has many benefits for you and your business. Most of all, proper organization and spacing will let your freezer do what it was made to do – preserve your product. Not only will an organized walk-in freezer prolong the longevity and quality of your product, but keeping your freezer systemized will also reduce waste. Additionally, these organizational tips will help your business avoid health code violations.
Walk-in freezer organization will also prolong the life of the refrigeration system in your walk-in. By allowing for plenty of air circulation and not blocking the refrigeration unit, you will avoid unnecessary repairs in the long term.
Overall, these tips for organizing your walk-in freezer will increase your efficiency and save you money and hassle!