Freezer Inventory: How To Keep Track of What You’ve Got

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Keep a freezer inventory so you can keep track of what you’ve got — and enjoy it before it loses its freshness, taste, and texture.

freezer packed with food

Ever go to the freezer thinking you’ve got a batch of marinara sauce to use for dinner, only to find, NO, you used that last month and forgot you did so?

Ever buy a few packs of pork chops on sale, thinking you’re being really wise only to find that you’ve got SIX in the freezer already?

Ever find yourself at home for an extended period of time and realize that you don’t really know what you have on hand?

A freezer inventory is what you need.

Making freezer meals, shopping the sales, and pantry challenging it are all great things — provided that you use what you have in a reasonable way.

There’s no time, money, or effort saved if you end up pitching unmarked or old, unused food. Or overbuy and find yourself eating pork chops every week for two months.

A Freezer Inventory

Keeping good track of what’s in your freezer with a freezer inventory can help you save money, eat well, and avoid food waste.

That’s where a Freezer Inventory Sheet is super handy. Here’s a sample:

freezer inventory sheet on blue clipboard with pen

How to create a freezer inventory:

  1. Create a list of the different meals or proteins that you have stashed away in the freezer.
  2. Next to the item’s name, draw a circle for however many you have on hand. If you have three portions of beef stew, draw three circles.
  3. As you use up the items in your inventory, cross out a circle. In this way, you’ll know at a glance how many you have left.
  4. Keep this freezer inventory on the front of your fridge or freezer.

As long as you cross it off each time you pull something from the freezer, you’ll have a great record of what’s left to eat. Not only will this help you tremendously with meal planning, but it will help you make good use of sales, knowing what you have and what you need.

This same process will work if you need to keep track of pantry or fridge inventory.

How do you keep track of what you have in the larder?

This post was originally published on November 4, 2009. It has been updated for content and clarity.

About Jessica Fisher

I believe anyone can prepare delicious meals—no matter their budget.

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Comments

  1. BusyMom says

    I like this idea. It is something I struggle with. I feel daunted by assuming I could undertake it today, but since I am targeting an empty freezer by Christmas for a much needed defrost, I will have to definitely follow this plan as I refill it.

  2. Sara says

    Great idea, I am very discouraged b/c my freezer is pretty full, so where to start? Also, I'll share my method- I usually take a mental inventory when things start falling out on me ๐Ÿ™‚ I would love to get to this point…I'll have to try baby steps!

  3. FishMama says

    Girls, you're going to hate me for saying this….

    Go empty your freezers! I'm serious. Now that the kids are in bed, go take everything out and write down what you have. Just think – it's like grocery shopping without leaving your house! You'll probably find all sorts of treasure that you can cook up this week.

    I double dog dare ya. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  4. Anonymous says

    That is a great idea, thank you! I am going to apply that chart to my stock of pasta, cereal, oatmeal, dish soap, etc. that is threatening to take over my basement.

  5. Mother Hen says

    Hubs and I were just looking at freezers tonite at Sam's and I thought, "I'm gonna need a clip board and a system for this!" ๐Ÿ˜€ Thanks for the visual!

  6. Ann Marie says

    What a great idea!! Especially if you have a big old deep freeze!! I will definetly be trying this soon! ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Becky says

    I have our list posted right on the freezer – and I taped a pencil on a string to it so it would never disappear. This system is marvelous – give it a try! (And yes, you do have to empty your freezer the first time you make the check-list.) Sometimes organizing the list by shelf helps, but only if things don't migrate on you.

  8. Rita Kent at TesoroFino.Com says

    And I thought I was organized. This is wonderful and perhaps I can have this work for me and the family too. Thanks for sharing. Please stop by and visit and browse a while. If you like what you see, click the "Follow" button and subscribe just below to get instant updates. This way we can share ideas and spark each others creative juices.

  9. Amanda from Faith, Food and Family says

    That is a great idea! I need to start doing that. Thanks!
    God bless,
    Amanda

  10. Amanda says

    Yes! I have used almost the exact method before when we purchased meat from a co-op. I had not thought to use it now for my freezer meals! Sometimes the solution is so obvious that it is hard to see. Thanks for some perspective!
    PS. I clicked over yesterday from Crystal's site yesterday. I had a great time reading your older posts. I'm a homeschooling mom with 4 littles so I was *very* pleased to find your site!

  11. April says

    great idea…i have a small freezer for just a couple months and I've already had to take everything out 4 times because I can't remember whats in there(or the fridge freezer!)

  12. steadymom says

    I love the idea of having everything listed on one easily accessible sheet – would save a lot of time!

    Jamie

  13. Rona's Home Page says

    That's a great organization idea!

  14. Stacie says

    That is a great idea! I am starting to pay attention more to what is in my freezer.

  15. Kim says

    I have to do this today – I have done it many times in the past and now our 2 freezers are bursting, so I need to plan meals with what I have.

    I have a master spreadsheet that I just modify each time I do an inventory – I inventory my pantry too when I am super organized – I haven't done one in a LONG time though ๐Ÿ™‚

  16. Megan says

    This definitely is a great idea! Right now, I just have the Ziploc bags labeled, but that means sorting through everything.

  17. The Eclectic Dabbler says

    Do you have a large freezer? or just the fridge/freezer in the kitchen?
    I am struggling to have room in our fridge/freezer for: making baby food (in bulk); my husband's coffee (he buys 5 lbs. at a time and freezes in 1 lb. increments); meats I buy on sale–pork roast, roast beef, hamburger, chicken; frozen veggies; chicken nuggets/hot dogs for the kids; ice cream . . .
    Let alone the turkey for Thanksgiving! or making meals ahead of time . . .
    Is it possible to do the "cooking for a month [or at least a couple weeks]" without the big freezer?
    We really don't have the $$ to buy a big freezer right now, but sometimes I feel like, if my freezer were better organized, maybe I could do it. Any thoughts?

  18. Susie says

    Great idea!

  19. CC says

    I blogged about my frezer list last year. Unfortunately, things at home have taken some turns for the worse and I'm not as organized as I once was. Hopefully it will happen again….

    http://ifonlyihadsuperpowers.blogspot.com/2008/03/freezer-list.html

    Love your blog!! ๐Ÿ™‚

  20. Kitchen Stewardship says

    I have so many things in the freezer, not just meals, that I need a whole notebook to keep track! I have a page for "fruits and vegs", "beans", "broth", and "venison", along with columns on my main wipe-off board for meals, meats, breads and staples like peas, lime juice, bacon, brown rice… I like to say I'm the freezer queen! ๐Ÿ™‚ Katie

  21. Leigh says

    I did it! I just emptied my freezer and finished inventorying (is that word) my big freezer. WOW! That feels awesome to know exactly whats in there. Thanks for the nudge in the right direction

  22. I love this idea! I’ve been using a white board and I think I’ll continue to do so (especially when I start freezer cooking), but I like the tally marks!

  23. I am totally going empty my freezer and make a list like this for my fridge! We have a chest freezer so things get lost at the bottom sometimes. We also get 1/4 side of beef every year with multiple cuts of beef. I can never remember how much of each cut we have left.

    This will be a great tool!

    Thanks!

  24. Jacky says

    I recently started using a spreadsheet on Google documents to track the inventory. I have columns for meat, vegetables, ready to eat, dessert, and misc. It works great! Obviously it is helpful in the weekly meal planning, but it is especially helpful for unplanned or l;ast minute runs to the store. My husband and I can access it from anywhere and see what we have on hand.

  25. That’s such a better way to keep track than what I was doing!!! I am definitely going to start doing it that way!!! Thank you!!!!
    Just posted on my blog what I got done….not much but it works ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks again for being such a wonderful inspiration! You have no clue how much you have helped me! ๐Ÿ™‚

  26. Terri says

    I have a spreadsheet created on the computer and then printed and taped to the top of the freezer. Each package of an item is a separate entry recorded with date, type, and amount. Items are crossed off as they are removed and written in as they are added. Every couple of months I pull off the sheet, update the computer file, and put on a fresh copy. It works great!

  27. Ro says

    How do you distinguish between cooked food and raw, i.e., chicken from the store, or leftover chicken? Thanks for the input.

    Ro

    • Jessica Fisher says

      I just write it on the list that way.

  28. I have struggled with this since I got a chest freezer two years ago. Nothing seemed to work, the simplicity of your idea got my attention and I went to work. Same concept. AND I ready your post about comletely emptying and cleaning your fridge. I was super inspired and did it that day with my dh’s help. He moved the shelves around to function better for us (duh, never had thought about it) and I had a hard time keeping the door shut all night when we were done. I couldn’t believe how nice it looked, and how FUNCTIONAL it is now. Thanks for all the inspiration, truly.

  29. Janelle says

    My first chest freezer is being delivered tomorrow so I can’t speak for that, but I’ve been using a dry erase board to inventory my small freezer. I drew sections on the board to match the sections in my freezer (main shelf, door shelves), and then I store my food by type, so there’re sections for raw meats, cooked meats, veggies, meals, and desserts. I read a blogger that cut pictures out of sales flyers and attached magnets, then slid magnets back and forth between “Stocked” and “To Purchase” on the freezer door, but I’m just afraid that my three year old would have waaayy too much fun confusing mommy with that system!!!

  30. Emmalene Umar says

    Thank you! This is awesome, very simple, but something you can add to and take away to keep it up to date at all times. Brilliant ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Glad I could help. Let me know if you’re looking for more tips on freezer cooking. It’s one of my favorite things.

  31. Karen J says

    I do this every year before January pantry challenge and just did it again two weeks ago when the writing was on the wall that going to the grocery store was going to change. Just the act of doing freezer inventory was calming and made me feel more confident during this challenging time. Luckily I’d found some good deals on proteins in February-including Costco steaks that I buy once a year for Valentines day-so I feel good about my stock on hand.

  32. Sarah says

    This reminds me that my list needs updating since weโ€™ve been stuck at home for so long. We did a big shop at BJs right before everything got crazy and I was sort of mentally tracking potential meals but now that Iโ€™ve made most of the obvious ones a list would be more helpful.

    Iโ€™m so glad I practice freezer cooking and a one big shop monthly then fill in as needed with perishables. We are in pretty good shape but a lot of our friends donโ€™t cook and are panicking.

    • Send your friends here! I’m happy to help as I’m able. I’m so glad you’re set!

  33. Lynn from NC Outer Banks says

    Jessica, I love this simple method. I’ve done inventories before, but put tally marks. Then when I ate them?? I marked through the tallies, or erased them if I’d done them in pencil (neither of which wound up being very accurate) but your simple idea never occurred to me! Thank you. Note to self-KISS! I’ve continued to slowly, very slowly whittle down the freezer so will be implementing this system soon and from now on.

  34. Molly says

    THE CIRCLES. Why has this never occurred to me? I ALWAYS have multiples of certain items and have tried a couple different ways to track them and failed. Such a simple solution, but one that has I’ve never thought of, so thank you!

    • You can do boxes, too. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • Lynn from NC Outer Banks says

      Molly, I’m glad I’m not the only one!! It never occurred to me either. Such a Eureka moment, but I must admit I felt pretty dumb not having thought of it myself. It was good that Jessica shared the visual ๐Ÿ™‚

  35. Marne says

    I donโ€™t remember where I saw this but what I do is use CLEAN reusable grocery bags (all different). Each holds a different category which works great for my small chest freezer because I can pull them out. The red one has meat, blue has frozen veggies, etc. I have the โ€œlegendโ€ takes to the outside as a reminder. I think I will try the list too though!

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