Do you remember what's in your freezer?
I'm fairly new to this site, hope I'm not repeating past subjects, but thought I'd seek a possible solution to my problem of cooking or buying wonderful things, placing them in the freezer then forget they're in there. Best I can research, this seems to be a universal problem. I've searched around for inventory plans, apt's etc, but all seem to be to combersom with lots of entering of info, etc. Is there a simple solution somewhere I am just not aware of? thanks
In response to your subject line query: No I can't.
Which is why I keep an Excel spreadsheet of what goes into the chest freezer and fridge in my garage, and a smaller list of items I might have in my upstairs freezer (such as cups of chicken stock, etc.
I have a column for quantities, and the other a description of the item(s) and group them in "like" areas on the spreadsheet. For instance:
6 | (1-cup) chicken stock
8 | (1/2-cup) chicken stock
2 | (1-cup) beef stock
2 | bags peas
1 | bag TJ's roasted corn
1 | (large) bag corn
8 | hamburgers
2 | (1 lb.) ground beef
1 | (3 lb.) chuck roast
5 | (bone-in/skin-on) chicken breasts
1 | (4.5 lb.) roasting chicken
Hopefully you can see this picture for an example: http://www.chow.com/uploads/7/8/6/489...
I then put it on the side of my fridge, and when I take something out, I change the quantity or cross it out completely. When I add new stuff, I add it to the list. When it gets too written on, I go back into the Excel doc and make the actual changes.
That way, I don't lose a roasting chicken at the bottom or back of the freezer.
Chest freezer or a fridge freezer?
For the fridge freezer, my philosophy is cooked foods on top and raw foods below.
For example, ice cream and ready to eat stuff on the top shelf. Next shelf is homemade food followed by boxed processed foods. Lower half is the raw stuff.
Another thing I do for the fridge freezer is to buy what I'll use withing 2 to 3 months. For a chest freezer, I use a 6 month window.
For the chest freezer inventory, I use paper and pen on a clipboard.
For the fridge freezer, I don't inventory since I can see what I have.
Thinking about seeing what you have... Writing the date and what it is helps a lot, especially when foods ice over.
We do the dry erase board as well. We have a really small freezer but I found getting a couple of organizing trays for it helped a lot as you can visually see what's in there and get to different types of things much easier. Veggies and fruit on one side, meats on the other side, boxes in the middle. Opened bags of stuff like veggie sausage or veggie burgers in the door.
I hope this doesn't come across as sounding like one of those unhelpful responses that doesn't really answer the question, but just to offer another perspective - How about just buying less? I've been buying just enough food for 10 to 14 days, and I find that I'm wasting much less food this way.
I know it's tempting to stock up on stuff that's on special, but if it ends up going to waste because it's freezerburned, that negates some of the savings. And besides, there's always something on special, so you can still benefit from savings, even if you buy less.
That's what I do. Funds have been tight over the past year so I can't stock up like I used to when things are on sale. (I do buy whatever is on sale for us for the next 2 weeks) Much more space in the freezer and I can see everything I have. No more waste for us.
I also keep things in designated areas: butter and herbs/spices on the door, veggies and fruit on top shelf, and proteins in the bottom basket.
Sometimes it's not about waste, but cost.
We knew we were having a graduation party for our kids this summer. BBQ and pool, all 100 guest outside. So, when Shop-Rite had their lowest prcie sale of the year on Hebrew National hot dogs @$1.49 pkg, I bought enough for the party and to last the entire summer/fall grilling season>>>72 packages. Regular non sale price is $5.29 pkg.
I also hit a one day sale on 85% lean ground beef @$1.99. I bought 40 pounds, made it all up in 1/3lb burgers. Laid them out on wax paper 4 per level and froze them in dozens using gallon size freezer bags. Current sale price on the beef is $3.99.
This week Chicken breast on the bone were 99 cent/s lb. I bought 30 lbs. and boned nice boneless portions and left enough meat on the ribcage, so they grill at the same length of time as the boneless.
In April, Stop and Shop had their shoulder London broils in twin packs (approx 4lbs) at $1.88. I bought 16 packages and am just finishing them up in August.
As posted in another thread, we grill meat for our dogs every day and at 99 cents to $1.99 per pound we stock up.
All of this goes into our stand alone freezers. The side by side in the kitchen contains that 10-14 day supply you mention. There are many items that are not affected by freezer burn, such as margarine and butter, so when they are on sale at savings of 25% or more, I see no reason to restrict myself to a 2 week supply.
Also, this does not apply to seasonal items. Fresh American Spring lamb is available now. By October, all we'll see is the inferior (IMO) stuff from Australia and New Zealand. I don't mind laying in a good supply now.
Usually, because I'm somewhat anal about cleaning out the fridge/freezer and tossing things that have been there too long, so I don't have a lot of time to really forget about something. My freezer is pretty small, which helps it from becoming too much of a catch-all, but I have found it enormously helpful to label everything with the contents and date of an item so I"m not looking at some frozen piece of meat and saying "hmmmm".
I keep a dry erase board on the fridge to note items as we run out of them so certain staples are always either there or on the shopping list: chopped spinach, shrimp, ice cream.
Got a SmartPhone? Get an app called MyPantry - there are probably others, but that is the one I use - and I keep my freezer inventory, along with my dry and canned pantry on it. Easy on and easy off. I tried the dry erase board, but would be too busy to add or subtract. I always have my phone with me. Plus, the app will scan barcodes, so when I shop, I can add the items as I go.
We have a chest freezer, so I don't have shelves. Instead I group like items in reusable grocery bags — so all greens in one (or 3 ...) bag, tomatoes in another, bread in another. Those all get piled into the bottom of the freezer. Everything is frozen in food saver bags with contents, quantity and date written on the outside. We use oldest to newest, and if an item spreads to multiple bags I will re-sort and stack so the newer items are on the bottom.
The baskets hold small items like pesto, butter and peppers.
Like another poster, my freezer is largely empty of human food right now. The grand plan (ha!) is to take stock of everything that I put up over the summer in October/November, including quantity, and put a list on the fridge.
I have a cooking inventory that I keep updated regularly (as in maximum of a few days lapse)
It lists items in my freezer, fridge and pantry. Well, most of them. I don't bother with herbs, spices and staples, such as bread.
I guess it sounds kinda obsessive, but I find it works for me as I have a compromised short term memory and also live a fair drive away from the nearest supermarket, so I have to be organized and if possible, pick up something I might need on the way home from work, rather than get home, discover that I'm out of something, and go out again (or find something else for dinner from what's available, which can be a challenge).
I used to live across the road from a nice sized shopping centre with a decent supermarket and a fruit and vege mart. I loved it. Do I ever miss it!
Anyway, my inventory lives in my evernote database which means that it's accessible from anywhere that there's internet access, and my recipes live there too - so it means I can figure out what I'm doing for dinner before I leave work, check my inventory and pick up what I need on the way home.
Btw, I really love my evernote database, you can tag things, and the whole thing is keyword searchable. Fabulous when you're looking for recipes in your collection with specific ingredients you might be wanting to use up, for example.
I keep a spreadsheet in Excel. We have 3 freezers, two of which are large upright deep freezes in the basement, not including the locker we rent at the butcher shop. We buy our meat by the animal or side, so at one point during the year I have hundreds of pounds of different meats of different cuts. This is the same time of the year that I am freezing and canning from our garden, but I am very organized and I have only ever thrown out organ meat that I've just not figured out what to do with. The butchers wrap this meat thoroughly and I can't remember the last time I've suffered freezer burn or diminished quality. We are in farming country, and one side of my family are large, commercial farmers, so we are able to buy grass-fed and non-certified organic meat very reasonably this way. This time of the year, my freezers might have more frozen water jugs than anything else. That will quickly change over the next few months. (Thought I might add that we keep a generator for power outages, too, to protect this investment.)
I just know what's in there. Every time I get into the freezer to retrieve something or to stash something else, I make a note of the things I see, reinforcing in my memory what's there. On some level, I'm nearly always thinking of how to use the stuff in the freezer, which also reinforces my memory. What throws me off is when Mrs. ricepad rearranges or removes something. Fortunately, that doesn't happen very often.
I'm pretty sure, tho, that if I had a deep freezer for uberstorage, I'd lose track of stuff.
Besides the list outside the freezer, even more important is to properly package, label, and date each food item you put into the freezer and then manage the inventory accordingly. I made a concerted effort at this beginning about three years ago and it would help even more if I got better cooperation from other members of our household. (I have acquired a new, but so far seldom used moniker, the "Freezer Nazi")
re: John E.
I don't actually keep that much stuff in the freezer so things tend not to get lost. But I agree, labeling is key. We keep a couple of sheets of 1" x 2" white stick-on labels on the fridge door at all times, which not only makes labeling easy, it also gives my wife's collection of refrigerator magnets something to do.
Holy Cow! thegforency---the thread you refered me to is amazing!---I don't feel so bad now that I've read how bad others experiences have been with hoarding food in their freezers. I said before in my original question that I thought this was a universal problem, now I am convinced. Hopefully someone will come up with a simple solution---I like the dry eraser board idea, and will give it a try, also the other suggestion about using different shelves for various foods is good but I am already doing that, and still losing things. I think maybe some of the problem is we're lazy when it comes to keeping written inventories with an in and out inventory system. Thanks for all the suggestions.
Besides a list, Dry erase board is a great idea, try designating shelves for types of items.
I know the top shelf of our kitchen freezer is boxed items such as blintzes, pierogoes and Lean Cuisine
2nd shelf is Ice cream, ice pops, etc
3rd shelf is cooked food in freezer containers or bags
Drawers are bags of vegetables
Door shelves are:
2nd-- Butter and margarine
3rd-- hot dogs, kielbasa
bottom--bread, English muffins
The pantry freezer is for raw meat
Top shelf-ground meat
4th cut up poultry
bottom, whole chickens, turkey breasts, duck
We also have a back up freezer in the garage that is used when we are planning a large gathering. Place to put those cheap turkeys in the fall, bags of ice, bounty from the summer garden, etc. That sheet size ice cream cake that won't fit elsewhere. We don't keep this freezer running all the time, just as needed
This way I can tell at a glance if I'm low on a category.
The list will tell me how many steaks and what variety I have, but just opening the door and looking at the 3rd shelf will let me know if I have steaks or chops.
works for us. I update the lists about every 10 days, as I can't rely on family to update everytime they use one item.