Freezer Inventory

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freezer inventory - storing food in the freezer

From: Monique

I would like to know how to control what is in my big freezer. When do you make an inventory of the stock you already have before you buy some more? Before each grocery day? Thank you very much for you answer. If only I was not the only one to open and close that door… It would be easier!

I just write it down on my shopping list on the fridge when something is gone. Now the kids are bigger Mike and them will write it down now too! They have learned if it’s not on the list, it doesn’t get purchased! :-)

If you still can’t get your family to write it down, I would just check each time before you shop.


I would do a deep cleaning of my freezer about 3-4 times a year– not the freezer itself but what was in it. I would do this right before I start my Christmas baking (October), in the spring and right before garden or fresh produce are ready in the late summer.

Stock the new things toward the back or on the bottom so that the older items get used first. I know this is a pain, but needs to be done.

Be careful with freezers, especially the chest style ones. I have owned an upright and Tawra has one now. Unless you have a large family, live far from town, have a garden or something like that they really won’t save you money unless you stay on top of them.

With chest style freezers, it is especially easy to lose things in the bottom and waste so much food from freezer burn, food getting old or the electricity going out.

One thing people don’t realize is that even today’s energy saver ones pull a lot of electricity so if you are running a freezer to hold 4 turkeys and 3 roasts you bought on sale and it is costing you $40 a month to run the freezer, you do the math. You aren’t saving anything. I have a neighbor right now who runs her freezer all the time and who keeps nothing in it except 3-4 bags of ice.

I am not saying don’t have a freezer just do the math and make sure it is paying for itself.


photo by: ilovebutter


  1. Mama Nut says

    My husband and I have made a complete inventory of our freezer and pantry that lives on a whiteboard in our upstairs pantry. (we have one up and one downstairs). I keep it up to date when I take things out so I know what I need to replace when we go to the store so that we don’t overbuy on the things we don’t need. I developed this because I have a tendancy to hoard some items on accident and never seemed to have the things I needed. But if you ever find a use for 5 bottles of ketchup let me know because I seem to keep buying them!!

  2. marci357 says

    I keep a running inventory on paper stuck with magnets on the front of the freezer. When I take something out, I cross out the number of that item and write in the new #. Such as 4 pork chops becomes 3 pork chops. When I buy more and put it in the freezer, I add a line to the freezer inventory. I also put the date on there – month and year. If I notice something getting old, I circle it in red and try to use it next.

    I inventory by shelf in my upright.
    There are 4 blocks on the paper for the 4 shelves, and a line down one side for the door shelves. Makes it easier to find something that way if I know what shelf to look on.

    Once a year, usually before harvest season or hunting season, I double check my inventory (as I’m not the best at keeping it correctly tho I’m trying!) and again list by shelf, and circle the older items in red.

    The master form for the inventory is in my computer.

  3. Sherry C says

    They make whiteboards that are magnetic and about the size of a sheet of paper. Keep one on the front of the freezer (with a dry-erase handy) and keep your totals there. I have one on my fridge for grocery lists – when I use the margarine and discover it’s low, I add it to the list. Then I take a picture of the list with my cell phone and head off to the store (or if it’s long, I’ll jot it down on an index card).

  4. Grizzly Bear Mom says

    I developed a shopping list of all that I need by frozen foods, canned goods, produce, etc. I check off what I need.

  5. says

    Great tips. I’ve been doing these as well. It’s amazing how many things you really don’t need that are already around the house. Don’t forget the list and if possible, don’t bring the kids. Use coupons too..

  6. Roz says

    Hi, for order in my chest freezer I use those re-useable shopping bags with a type of food in each e.g. meats, fruit, veg, baking supplies.The handles make it easy for moving groups of items. Then I have a diagram on a white board stuck to the nearby wall with the location of each bag noted. This makes getting what I need quicker than digging through the whole freezer. Plus defrosting is a breeze!

  7. Mari says

    I found this site quite by accident earlier today and I’ve been on it ever since! I’ve even ordered a copy of your book “Dining on a Dime” which I’ve purchased from a bookshop in St. Paul’s, Missouri (I live in the UK and I can’t find a single one for sale over here!)

    The tip above from Roz, about using re-useable shopping bags – what a brilliant idea!! I can see I’ll be copying that in the next week or two :)

  8. Carole says

    I bought some dishpans at the dollar store and put meat in one, frozen veggies in one, potato items (tater tots, potato wedges, french fries) in one, frozen fruit items in one; misc items (chocolate chips, nuts. bread etc) in one and wow! Now you can pull out a bin, look for what you want and put it back without holding the freezer door open looking for something…it works great!

  9. Lucy says

    I use both plastic crates to organize by type (chicken, pork, beef, hamburger, veggies each have their own bin) and a magnetic whiteboard with a clip that holds the marker. Having the pen right there was a key to keeping the whiteboard inventory updated. If I do find a lost, forgotten, or older item I put it in the wire basket at the top of the chest freezer or move it to the fridge freezer and immediately add it to the menu plan. When I have only 1 or 2 left of something I add it to my shopping list in the semi-urgent column and look for a good buy on it.

  10. Mary says

    The chest freezer worked great when all the kids were home. After we became “empty nesters” it was way too big. I solved the problem by freezing gallon milk jugs with water and putting them in the bottom. Then I covered a large piece of cardboard with foil and covered the jugs, making a new ‘floor’. I then put my baskets on the new floor. This way the freezer was nearly full at all times.

  11. Sheri says

    I have a question about the shopping bags, bins or crates in the freezer. It sounds like a great idea, but does the frost ever freeze them to the shelf?

    I need to do some defrosting of my freezer really soon and so that brings the question to mind. Otherwise, it sounds like a great idea!

  12. Bob says

    Regarding the article statement: “even today’s energy saver o…is costing you $40 a month…”

    I recently checked the yellow govt energy labels on freezers and found them to show something like $35-40 per YEAR, not per month — quite a difference!

    • says

      You can’t always go by these labels because it can depend on how full your freezer is where you live and the price of electricity and other factors even how much the freezer is opened and closed.

      Tawra just got a new top of the line energy saving fridge and I was talking to the repair man (she had trouble with it the first day) and he said where she lived she would save a whole $1 a month with this energy saving fridge. He also said what people don’t realize on the new fancy energy saving fridges is you are suppose to adjust the temperature each time you go to the store and refill the fridge or when it gets low on food in order to help save on the energy.

      He went on to say these wonderful energy saving fridges now have computer chips in them to help save that whole $1 a month energy and if something happens to it which he says does all the time it costs $500 just for the part to fix it not including paying him to come out and fix it.

      Bottom line is to turn off your own freezer or dryer not use them for a month or two and see what it does to your electric bill. I think you will be very surprised.

  13. Tommie in Abilene, TX says

    Some very good ideas here. I have two more suggestions: 1. When
    using holding bins in the freezer, get them with an open basket weave
    or that have open vent holes/squares all around so the cold air can circulate freely.
    You smart people probably already knew this, but it was new to me. 2. The next
    time I think I am about to need a refrigerator, I am going to haunt yard sales for a good
    Used one. I have seen beauties for $100. I have had so many lemons and paid a ton
    Of money for them. If I have to have another dud fixed, at least I didn’t pay new price.
    In 53 years of marriage, I have never had a fridge that lasted five years without expensive
    repairs—–just lucky, I guess. Tommie

    • says

      Thanks for the tips Tommie. Both are good. We are right there with you on the fridge advice. Tawra has had a nightmare with appliances. The one she has now was new, broke down and luckily it was under warranty that came with the house but he told her that if he had to repair 1 part the part alone would be $500 just for the part and that did not include the labor. I didn’t get a used one but got the most inexpensive one I could find – very cheap and it has lasted for 10 years so far. It didn’t have any bells and whistles at all. Just like the old ones with not one button or computer anything on it. That I think is part of the secret too.

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