Friday, May 11, 2012

Using a Freezer Inventory (Free Printable!)


This is part three in a series on menu planning. If you've missed any of the previous posts GO HERE.

Hey y'all!

It is an exciting day here at The Scrappy Housewife! Not only do you now have the opportunity to grab a new button for this little series "Menu Planning on a Budget" (see right side bar) but I'm also offering my first free printable! So exciting!

If you'd share the button on your blog to help me get the word out, I would be eternally grateful. (Totally optional, of course.)

Let's get started, shall we?

So far, we've discussed why I think menu planning is important (especially now!) for my little family, and I've also covered how I manage to menu plan in about an hour once a month. In my last post I shared with you that I keep a freezer inventory on my fridge to help me keep track of what's in there and so we don't end up with any more freezer burned steak popsicles.

Today, I wanted to take some time to share with you what my freezer inventory looks like and exactly how I use it. It's easy! Promise.

Here's what my freezer inventory looks like right now:


You can see it's kind of...shall we say homespun? I like that. Makes it sound less sad looking. ;)

You might remember this one as well: 


That dry erase one is probably one of my most successful DIY projects as far as the blog goes and it worked great for awhile, but as I got deeper into menu planning and stock piling I was finding it hard to remember what I'd used vs. what I bought when I went grocery shopping so I needed an upgrade. That's where the graph paper comes in. 

When I realized I wanted to do a blog series on menu planning, I knew I wanted to give it a fun retro twist and create something I could share with all of you. So I did! Let me walk you through the new look and how I use it. It's really simple.

Here's the new fancy one!


And now the step by step! 

Let's take a look at my Beef Section:


Here's what the numbers mean:

  1. At the beginning of the month, I take everything out of the freezer and do a count of all the items. I fill in the quantity of each specific item on hand in the bottom triangle. 
  2. As the week goes on, I tally the items I use in the "Used" section (there's a used column for each week).
  3. In the top triangle I write in the number of any items I purchase at the grocery store that week. This week I haven't made any purchases of meat (so far).

    At the end of the week I will take #1 (what I had on hand at the beginning of the week), add it to #3 (any purchases I made) and subtract #2 (any I used). I take the answer from that equation and place it in the #4 spot.

    #1 + #3 - #2 = #4
  4. This is the new "On Hand" count for the next week. I don't need to pull everything out of the freezer again!
I will occasionally pull everything out, give the freezer a good wipe down and check to make sure my calculations are correct.

No more Steak Popsicles! :) 

A few more notes:
  • You can see that in the pictures I have typed in what I keep on hand at my home at any given time. You will have the option to follow along with me and print the filled in freezer inventory that I use OR a blank one for you to fill in by hand (I couldn't make it editable for copyright reasons, sorry) with what your family uses.
  • I had a friend road test the inventory for me and provide feedback. She suggested that the triangles were a little small to write in, so on the totally blank one, there are no triangles. You can still use the same procedure I do with regard to purchases though, just write what you have on hand at the beginning of the week in the bottom corner and any purchases you make in the top right corner. It's just a little more roomy that way. 
  • You can "count" in any way you want. For my main proteins (beef, chicken, pork) I count by meal since I repackage our meat into meals for two - so when you see a "6" in the box for those categories, that means I have six meals on hand. Here's how I treat the rest of my categories:

    Fish - I count filets on hand, not by meal.
    Shrimp - I buy them frozen in a bag and go by an approximate amount in the bag - this week I have a third of a bag left.
    Frozen Veggies - Since it's just the two of us, I only use half a bag (1/2 pound) at a time, so I go by half pound bag. For example - one bag = "2" in the "on hand" box.

    Again, though, you will determine how you want to count things. Perhaps you want to count individual cuts of meat. Or maybe you'll be really meticulous and count every single shrimp. (If so, I have a few things I'd like you to come help me with ;) ) It's all up to you!
And now for the fun stuff. The printables! Click on the picture of your preference to download.

Filled In Freezer Inventory:

Blank Freezer Inventory:


Do you keep a freezer inventory? Would you like to start? Have a question? Leave me a comment below. I love hearing from you!

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