Keep Track of What’s in the Freezer

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It’s great to have a full freezer, but unless you know what’s IN your freezer and actually serve it for supper, it’s not really a help to you. And if you have a large freezer, it can be easy to forget what you have or how long it’s been there.

I defrost my freezer at least twice a year during our Pantry Challenge in January and again in July. But, in between those times, it can be anybody’s guess what we’ve got on hand.

Unless of course, I keep an inventory of the freezer contents.

Keep a running list of what you have in the freezer so that you can make meal planning easier and use your tasty meals before they’re not so tasty anymore. My method is pretty simple.

  1. Write down the names of the items.
  2. Draw large or small circles or square next to each item. The number you draw determines how many you how in stock. The size signifies how big or small the package or container is. For instance, sometimes, I store pasta sauce in small containers for pizza and larger containers for pasta night.
  3. Put an X in each circle or square as you use the item.
It’s pretty easy to do. And if you add to your list as you add to your freezer, you won’t ever have to go digging to figure out what you have.

31 Days of Freezer Cooking

For more ideas about how to make freezer cooking work for you, follow along with us here in October as I post 31 Days of Freezer Cooking. You can see past posts here.

For even more Freezer Cooking how-to’s you can also buy my book, Not Your Mother’s Make-Ahead and Freeze Cookbook.

Don’t want to miss a post in this series? Subscribe to 31 Days of Freezer Cooking by RSS oremail.

About Jessica Fisher

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

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  1. teresa g says

    We have started doing something similar to this. My daughter made a list of everything in the freezers (we have 3) and next to each item, she put hash marks for the quantity we have. Each hash mark represents one meals worth (enough for 4 adults). As we use an item, the hash mark is erased. We don’t need to know what is in each freezer as we have designated them for their specific uses. The upright is used for prepared casseroles or crockpot meals, the chest is used for meats or the rare frozen veggie, and the indoor freezer for ice cream, fruits, and a staging area.

  2. Sandi says

    I started the freezer list several months ago. I think it was talked about in the January pantry challenge and it was probably a month or two later I got around to making one. It has been fantastic! We actually just defrosted and re-organized the freezer just yesterday, so I got to verify the inventory. I think there were 3 items we had taken out and not crossed off but with 75-ish items in there, that’s a decent accuracy rate. I keep it on the fridge door even though the contents are for the outside freezer. A few times I’ve seen things on sale, marked them down to get, and then saw I still had a package on the list so I promptly deleted it from the shopping list. Whoo hoo. I don’t use the circle and square method, but I do have the number of each item next to the name, then mark off the numbers as I use them and cross off the item completely when they are all gone. When the page gets too scribbly, I edit the master file and reprint it. (Yes, I’m a little too anal and had to sort by raw vs cooked and type of meat and type it up)

  3. Stacey says

    I just keep a running list (on a magnetized pad of paper) of freezer items and put tally marks behind the item. If I have items in different sizes I list them seperately (lasagna – 9 x 13, lasagna 9x 9, pasta sauce – lg, pasta sauce small, etc.) As I take an item out of the freezer I cross the tally marks out. When all tallies for an item are x’ed out I know it’s time to make more soon.
    I don’t erase the item from the list when there is nothing left of that meal, I leave it there to jog my memory as to what to make again. As I feed the freezer I just add more tallies. Every so often I run out of room for tallies and rewrite the list. I don’t know if this makes sense, but it works for me!
    lasagna (9×13) t I I
    lasgana (9×9) t t I
    Ch. Enchilada I I I
    Pasta Sauce (lg) t t t
    Hamb. mix t t I I

  4. Kayla says

    I use a dry erase board marker, and have a list right on the door of my freezer. I break everything down in categories (bread, veggies, etc…) and just use little hash marks to mark what we have then just use a finger to wipe away one when we take something out. About every 6 months I clean it all off with a magic sponge and you would never know anything was on it! Works great for us!

    • Jessica says

      @Kayla, I’ve heard of that, but with my luck, it wouldn’t wash off. LOL

      • Trish says

        @Jessica, I wanted to share a little trick from my teaching days: use hand sanitizer or rubbing alcohol to wipe away stubborn dry-erase marker (even sharpie). We did this on laminated items that we re-used.

  5. Renee says

    I just did a kitchen inventory this week and decided I needed a database that would track what I have, by various categories and locations, in addition to tracking quantities. I found a pretty good iPad app (Prep & Pantry) that will do all of this. It will take a while to enter all of the food I have on hand, but I think it will save time when meal planning and creating shopping lists.

    • Jessica says

      @Renee, I’m going to have to check that one out. Sounds great!

  6. Marla says

    We live in an area where *everything* gets rusted quickly, so I had hubby attach a magnetic whiteboard to the front of my upright freezer. It covers the rust, and serves as my inventory board. I bought some magnetic label paper at the dollar store, and created labels for stuff I frequently have in my freezer, with separate colors for meat, veg, dairy, fruit, fish, and so on. The label for item that is in the freezer goes on the whiteboard, and the label an item that I’m out of goes on the side of the freezer, where it’s easy to find for next time. I write the quantity with a dry erase marker, and I also use the dry erase for prepared meals or other items I’m not likely to restock. It looks great, and is a wonderful visual help, as well as saving energy, since I don’t have to open the freezer to browse.

  7. Great post! I love the idea of the large and small circles – makes so much sense!

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