Keeping a Freezer Inventory Saves Food, Time, and Money

This idea is so simple, but it has changed my life!  Okay, not my whole life, but that tiny part of my life that was dedicated to rooting through the freezer in search of a stray tortilla or wondering what mysterious sauce I’d frozen in a jar five years ago.

After digging through the freezer and finding four bags full of bread heels, a half-empty jar of graham cracker crumbs, and a three-year-old tub of ice-encrusted raspberries, I knew I had to do something to keep more organized.  I simply made a list of everything in the freezer by category (sauces, vegetables, and bready things seemed to fill the bulk of it).  If I add something new, I simply write it down on the list, along with the date.  (Nothing in my freezer is labeled.)  If I take something out, I cross it off the list.

I’ve been doing this for just a few weeks and already I have reaped the benefits.  It means I’ll stop buying tortillas (already have three different kinds in the freezer) or I’ll take out some frozen rice to use in a stir-fry rather than make a new batch.   I’ll end up using food I already have, which means less will go to waste.

How do you keep your freezer stash organized?  Has anyone kept a freezer inventory for longer than just a few weeks?  I plan to keep this up, but you never know. . . .

Keeping a freezer inventory works for me!  For more Works for Me Wednesday tips, head on over to We are THAT Family. 

Comments

  1. I do this too and it is SOOO helpful!

  2. We have two freezers – the one that’s part of the fridge and we got a chest freezer as a wedding present. I store prepared meals in the chest freezer, and each of those is labelled and in a written in a note book. They get crossed off as they get taken out. In the fridge/freezer I don’t have a list, but that’s where we keep unprepared stuff like meat, bread etc. It’s small enough that you can see everything that’s in there in one go.

    I don’t know how I would manage my chest freezer with out my freezer book! thanks for the post.

  3. Cool idea! Do you hang the list on the side of your freezer/fridge?

  4. I’ve done a freezer inventory list for three years now and can’t imagine not doing it. It’s amazing how helpful it is. I do a lot of canning and freezing from my garden and local orchards so it also helps me to track how much I put up of X last and how much we actually used. Then I can adjust the amount I will put up this year based on our actual usage.

  5. I do this as well, but the hardest thing for me is keeping it up to date!

  6. great idea. i just started doing something like this with my fridge and freezer and created my meal plan for this week http://www.itsfrugalbeinggreen.com/2009/04/meal-plan-426.html with almost only food i already had.

  7. I’m going to have to try this. I’m always forgetting exactly what we have in the freezer (although I do try to label everything). We wind up throwing out way too much because it sits in there so long that it gets freezer burned.

  8. This is GREAT!! I was just thinking yesterday that I have to do something about my freezer. Thanks for the tip!!

  9. Michelle, I keep the list in a drawer. Of course, hanging it on the fridge isn’t a bad idea at all!

    Thanks for all the comments, everybody!

  10. I freeze a lot of food from my garden, from local farmer’s markets and from u-pick fruit farms. Near the end of the fall (the cheapest time to get red peppers (sliced and diced), sweet corn (blanched and cut off of the cob) and pumpkins (baked and pureed)) my chest freezer is full (I’ll start filling it again soon with rhubarb and strawberries). Then I make my list of items and I put check boxes next to each item for every bag I have of that item. That gets taped to the top of the freezer along with a pen on a string. Then I make another list of just the items and I put it on the front of my fridge so I don’t forget what lovely things I have down in the basement. It may be picky, but it is good to know when your strawberries are running out but you haven’t used much corn–a good time for a corn chowder recipe!

  11. This is a great idea that I will try to implement. I would only add an idea I got from my sister for organizing the freezer. She uses plastic containers (the shoe box size more or less), but I use actual shoe boxes. I use one container for fruit, one for veggie and then stack bread products around those. I think she uses another one for already cooked meat, but I rarely freeze that (she buys more prepared foods than I do). That’s the top shelf. On the bottom shelf I keep mostly meat products (in case the freezer ever should melt — the raw meat juices wouldn’t leak on everything) and nuts, spices, butter, OJ concentrate and other small stuff in the door (nuts, spices, and butter all keep much longer in the freezer). This is all ideally, of course. Sometimes when I am in a hurry when I get back from the grocery store, everything gets jammed in wherever there is space. I think the inventory is a great idea for keeping track. I also recently discovered a bunch of old bread I had intended to make into bread crumbs eventually in various ziploc bags all over my freezer.

  12. tiffany says:

    I drive my husband crazy with my lits to keep track of everything …. on the weekends he will want to cook something for a snack but he has to check the dinner list to see if i will be used for the next 2 weeks of dinners. I have 2 freezers and wish I had a stand up freezer. my chest freezer is were I put everything to store till needed…. I use the baskets it comes with for my fried foods like fries and nuggets and fish sticks, then I have the plastic shoe boxes and lable them for what ever is in them. I have one for chicken, one ground beef, one for pizza ingrediants, one for hotdogs, bacon and other smaller amounts of meet. in my kitchen freezer I keep a plastic box of all my veg and another one of all my fruit…. then a box I fill every week with that weeks dinner meats.

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