Download this free meal planning printable set (including pantry inventory & freezer inventory trackers) to stretch your food dollars and minimize trips to the grocery store.
So how are you holding up friends?
Life is certainly surreal right now. I hope that you are safe and healthy and most importantly…at home. I’m hanging in there and continuing to count my blessings, as I know we are in a much better situation than so many others.
We’re now starting our fourth week of sheltering at home. Navigating this crazy time has included a bunch of changes in our day-to-day routines. One of the changes that’s taken place during this “new normal” is the need to pay much closer attention to food management.
When I say food management, I mean things like:
- planning meals;
- closely tracking the food we have on hand;
- creating really organized shopping lists;
- determining where and when we will shop for groceries (to minimize risk of exposure).
We even purchased a chest freezer for our basement a few weeks ago so that we can do a better job of buying in bulk. So we now have a grand total of three freezers to store food. In order to keep track of what food is stored where, we’ve had to kick our food organization efforts up a notch.
It seems like food management has become such a central part of all of our lives, based on the fact that the traffic to this post on food storage organization has shot through the roof over these past few weeks.
What better time to introduce a new set of free printables centered all around food management?
I’ve already created a menu planner/grocery list printable that you can download from this post on how to create a meal planning routine.
But this week, I decided to expand upon that idea and create a more comprehensive Meal Planning Printable Kit. Not only is this new Meal Planning Kit prettier than the original menu planner, it includes printables that you can use to track the contents of both your freezer and your pantry without having to physically search through each space.
How to Use a Freezer & Pantry Inventory Tracker
Using a freezer inventory and/or pantry inventory is an awesome way to keep track of your food without having to spend tons of time constantly rummaging through your actual freezer(s) or pantry. I’ll admit that up to this point in time, I’ve been inconsistent when it comes to keeping up with my food inventories. But right now, I can’t imagine life without them.
So let’s go through the basic process of how to inventory your freezer to demonstrate how I put these food inventories to work in our home.
Step 1: Empty out & Clean the Freezer/Pantry
Just like with any organizing project, you should start by taking everything out of the space you plan to organize so that you can begin with a clean slate. I put everything onto the kitchen island in preparation for step 2.
Take this golden opportunity to actually clean the inside of the freezer (if it’s anything like mine, you’ll have some interesting crud that’s accumulated on the bottom and sides). It feels so great to see the inside of that freezer sparkling clean!
Step 2: Sort Your Items Into Categories
Next, it’s time to sort items into categories that make sense to you. My freezer item categories look like this:
- Prepared Foods/Freezer Meals (french fries, frozen pizzas, meal kits, etc.)
Step 3: Map Out Where to Store Each Category
The next step is to map out “zones” in your freezer where each of the food categories will be stored. These zones should be dictated by the volume of food in each category and the configuration of your freezer.
If you have multiple freezers in your home, this is also the time to decide how you will divvy up the food among the multiple freezers. For example, we decided to store all of our meat and seafood in our deep freezer, our fruits, vegetables and treats in our kitchen freezer and our prepared foods in the basement freezer.
Step 3: Take Inventory as You Put Food Back into the Freezer/Pantry
As you add items to the appropriate freezer zone, record that add that food as a line item on your Freezer Inventory. Next, record whatever you are considering a serving for that item.
Next, record how many servings of the item you have in stock with a “/” mark on the right side of the freezer inventory.
If you have multiple freezers, you can either a) create a separate inventory for each freezer (what I do), or use some sort of key to indicate the freezer in which the item is stored.
Step 4: Maintaining Your Freezer or Pantry Inventory
In order for your freezer or pantry inventory to be helpful, keeping it updated is crucial. Luckily it’s REALLY EASY to do!
Simply add a “/” (hash mark) for new items as you add them to the freezer. Then as you use up a serving of a particular food item, turn the”/” into an “X”.
When you’re preparing your weekly meal plan, all you need to do is look for the “/” marks on your freezer inventory or pantry inventory to quickly know what you have on hand. Once you fill up a row, you can add a new row for that item (or create a new sheet).
If you really want to get fancy, you can laminate your freezer and pantry inventory trackers. Simply use a dry erase marker to keep track of items. Once they are consumed, just erase the hash mark.
Keep your food inventories in a convenient place so that it makes it easy to maintain it. I currently have mine on a clipboard that I keep hanging on the inside wall of our pantry.
The Printable Meal Planning Kit
Using these inventory trackers really does make meal planning and food management so much easier — and right now, we all need things to be a little easier, right?
You can get both of these food inventories when you download the new Printable Meal Planning Kit.
This free seven-page printable kit includes:
- Meal Planner/Grocery List
- Meal Ideas List
- Freezer Inventory
- Pantry Inventory
Need some additional tips navigating this whole “sheltering at home” time, here are some resources you’ll want to check out: