I like making freezer meals and that means a bunch of bags in the freezer that can easily get stuffed into shelves and forgotten. Between leftovers, frozen veggies, Mac and cheese, frozen pizzas, and ice cream, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by what’s in the freezer.
Over the years, I’ve developed a freezer inventory that I keep in excel. Every few weeks, I update it, print it out, and attach it to the fridge with magnets. As we eat things, I mark up the fridge copy with a pen or pencil. After the sheet on the fridge is a total mess, I go back to the computer and clean it up. I also revise the sheet whenever I’ve done a Wildtree freezer meal workshop or some sporadic freezer meal cooking on my own.
Now that we have a fridge in the garage, I find this even more useful. My most-recent freezer inventory has columns for the fridge location, cooking directions, and whether it’s a family or individual portion. I just updated it with a new column that lets you know if the dish has to be cooked or reheated. I’ve found this to be useful when trying to solve the “what’s for dinner” question. You can simply see what you have, find something that you’re in the mood for (especially if it’s fully cooked and just needs reheating), and voila!
Find my latest freezer meal inventory here. (Click the word HERE to the left to download the Excel.)
To take meal planning to the next level, I suggest combining the freezer inventory with what we affectionately call “the meat bucket”. This is simply a sterilite container that is the right size to fit in your fridge. It should be able to hold at least three freezer meals. On Sunday night, simply pull out three freezer meals that you plan to cook during the week. Let them defrost slowly (the preferred method) in the fridge and then you’ll have meals that are ready to cook on Monday through Thursday.
As an aside, in our house, every baked good goes directly into the freezer. We have the “dessert shelf” that is full of freezer bags filled with mini brownies, tiny cake slices, cookies, and mini cupcakes. It takes away the temptation to “eat things before they go bad” and also teaches people that the right portion size for something sweet is just ONE.