Constantly wondering “what's in my fridge?” It's time to kick the habit! We have all the tips you need to clean out and keep track of the food you have in your kitchen. Cut out waste while using our handy, free printable to track what you've got!
If you've followed along for long, you know we LOVE our freezers. Yes, plural. We have several of them, and they are packed to the BRIM with food. The same goes for our fridge and pantry! Our freezers are one of the main tools that allow us to keep our grocery budget so low, and still make healthy, homemade meals for our family!
Aside from learning how to buy extra food items that are on sale (to build that freezer and pantry stockpile), the real trick is to inventory your kitchen so you know what's in there and rotate the food regularly.
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Lucky for us all, we have a gorgeous kitchen inventory printable on ShelfCooking.com that will knock your socks off! So keep on reading to see how to inventory your food and use that beautiful inventory printable. No more wondering “what's in my fridge?” on a daily basis for you!
HOW CAN I EASILY KNOW WHAT'S IN MY FRIDGE, FREEZER, AND PANTRY?
Obviously, the best way to know exactly what you have is to use the kitchen inventory printable. However, you can't just start adding items to it with your next grocery pickup order. You need to completely go through all of the food in your kitchen!
It may be a big task if you have a lot of food, but the first time is the hardest. Once you've gone through all of your food, then you just have to worry about keeping it up to date any time you add or use items.
This is a great time to CLEAN AND ORGANIZE your pantry, fridge, and freezer! Don't worry, we've got some great tips for you on doing this… We're going to focus on cleaning out the freezer, but apply these tips to anywhere you keep food in your house!
TAKE EVERYTHING OUT OF YOUR FREEZER
Choose one side or area of your freezer and completely empty the contents to the floor. Keep a garbage can close by and toss anything that is super old, funky looking (or smelling), or something that you will never use.
Keep your stuff in a pile, it won't thaw out fast enough to do any harm to anything! But if you're worried, keep a cooler nearby and put the food in there.
CLEAN OUT THE CREEPY GUNK
Don't skip the cleaning part! You never know when your freezer will be empty again, so take advantage of it. Use a vacuum to suck out what you can, then move on to the elbow grease! Ecloths are our favorite way to scrub all of the gross stuff out of the fridge and freezer!
PUT IT ALL BACK & WRITE IT DOWN
Put everything back, and try your best to make it make sense! Write down every item as you go. Here's how we do it:
- Start with the least-used, bulkiest stuff at the bottom.
- Try to make each side or area of your freezer make sense. For example, here's how we organized our kitchen pull-out freezer:
- Left side: Frozen meals/soup, meat, purees, salsa, etc.
- Right side: Veggies, fruit, dairy, baking goods, lunchmeat, etc.
- Top mini drawer: Small, random items, and items we use regularly, such as butter, cream cheese, string cheese and bagged cheese, yogurt, breads, frozen sandwiches, ice cream, etc.
- Write down everything as you put it back in your freezer and make note of what side/area it's on. Try to write it down somewhat in the same order as how you put it back in your freezer, along with how many you have.
USE YOUR KITCHEN INVENTORY PRINTABLE
Don't forget to use your kitchen inventory checklist from ShelfCooking.com so you're no longer asking yourself “what's in my fridge?”!
Remember, at the end of the day the purpose of having all this glorious food is to make your life easier and save you money… So USE IT! Plan your meals around what you have, especially on those weeks where money is tight.
DO A SPENDING FREEZE
Wanna get reeeeaaaaalllll crazy?!
Now that you have all this newly discovered food in your life, do a one- or two-week spending freeze! It will not only force you to use what you have, but it's a great way to save a LOT of money in a short amount of time. It's liberating, motivating, and empowering; like a juice cleanse for your body or something.
In one week you could save enough money to completely pay for Christmas. Buy a few kitchen staples before the freeze, but otherwise don't spend a dime and focus only on what you have in your pantry, fridge, and freezer!
That's it! Super easy, super useful, super quick project that will make you feel oh so good. Now, get out there and enjoy having a romantic date with the food in your kitchen!
Have you checked out ShelfCooking.com yet? Our brand new site is dedicated to helping you cook delicious, homemade, down-home-cooked meals for your family without spending too much time in the kitchen!
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Want some more great ideas?
- Get our best grocery shopping tips and tricks to help you save money and feed your family on a budget!
- Once you finish organizing the food in your kitchen, move on to your closet and easily organize it with these great tips!
- Start doing your laundry the unconventional way and you'll never go back to doing it the other way again!
- Check out these ingenious freezer organization ideas Shelf Cooking!
What kind of fridge do you have? I’ve been searching on your site for more info about your kitchen remodel, because it looks awesome, but I can’t find a post about it. We’re planning a kitchen remodel soon and I would love some tips on how to not spend a fortune. I mean, I know it’s gonna be expensive, but every cent counts, right?
How are you supposed to use the quantity boxes on the right of the printable guide?
use tally marks. as you use an item, check. off a tally mark x
This printable would be super awesome if there is a way to put it in an app and also have a widget option for your home screens!! Thank you so much for sharing!
You can also freeze sugar, flour, biscuit mix, corn meal, oats, corn starch, baking soda and powder.
I peal my bananas before freezing – they are ready to go & look nicer, too.
Also, instead of writing down your freezer inventory, use the voice recorder on your phone or snap some pictures – it doesn’t interrupt the flow of cleaning and sorting as much, and you can get your stuff put back faster. Then be sure to transcribe the information from your phone immediately.
Thanks so much for these! I am constantly buying things and then discovering that we already have it! Just went through my freezer with this list!
That is so great to hear! Yay!
My husband and I have a chest freezer so things get lost in the bottom. We thought we were almost out of hamburger last week so we did this to make new meal plans and found almost half of our hamburger at the bottom. I forgot I had layered it when I packed it all in! Saved me a ton of money! Thanks for the inventory reminder!
Great ideas! Time to use this to organize my fridge! Thank you!
I just did this a few weeks ago (made DH help, lol) and I discovered so much food I had forgotten about. I now have a list on the fridge and have been cooking more from what we have. It’s been saving me loads of money already.
I just HAVE to ask this… are those baked potatoes in foil in gallon sized bags?!? I didn’t know you can freeze baked potatoes (if that’s what those are). If that’s what they are please tell me your ways because I LOVE baked potatoes but I hate making them with how long they take to bake (or how hot my house gets in the process).
I just made them and wrap in foil and toss in a ziploc type bag and stick in the freezer, then you can bake or microwave from frozen or thaw first. I also do the same with twice baked… you can either bake once, stuff and freeze or do the 2nd bake and freeze. Both white potatoes and sweet potatoes work this way.
Those are great ideas!
I’m a tater lover too & found a quick easy way of cooking that tastes just as good. Start by scrubbing, removing eyes, spots, etc. Use knife or fork to poke holes. Sprinkle with salt. Cook in microwave till done. Have oven preheated to 425*. Bake potatoes in oven about 10 mins or until skins are crispy. This saves time, energy, money & produces a baked potato that tastes & feels like it spent the whole time in the oven!
That’s such a great idea! Thanks for sharing 🙂
So do you just print one out each time or reuse it somehow? I was going to say maybe laminate but, then the writing may come off. Would hate to have to re-print every time I organize food.
Laminating it would be best. You can just use wet erase markers, that way it only comes off with water!
Ive done in with a page protector and a dry erase marker… just have to keep it high enough the kids and pets dont accidently erase it.
Yes, that’s a great idea!
I don’t see a meal planning printable?
The fridge, freezer and pantry inventory printables are linked under the last section of the post. Good luck!
I have a chest freezer where things tend to get lost on the bottom! What has helped is stanading up things vertically like files so you can just pull up what you need instead of pulling the top things out to see the bottom things.
Also Alejandra.tv has a really good freezer organization video, where she uses recycling bins from Ikea to stack in her chest freezer. I have it on my “to-do” list do measure out my freezer and get those recycling bins!
Inventorying my freezer every few weeks or so definitely helps me to know what all I have in my freezer. Your idea of standing things up vertically is a great idea!
This is a great system! We have a chest freezer, so food can easily get lost. Keeping an inventory list totally helps, but I’m also working on a solution to organize all of the meat, vegetables, fruit, and freezer meals better. I want to figure out a way to make the food more accessible. 🙂
You’ll have to let me know what you figure out when you do!
I just did this! I feel so much better knowing exactly what’s in there. I was shocked at some of the stuff I found that I had forgotten about. Thank you for this fabulous tip!
I know, isn’t it crazy! Even if you don’t have a ton of space in your fridge/freezer/pantry, it still can add up and get lost! I’m glad that you found some things that you can use! 🙂
I only have the fridge/freezer combo… but I have wanted to maybe get a chest freezer at some point in my life (cuz my grandma always had one so I understood when you have a lot of kids/grand kids you need more space for ice cream and popcicles) but love hearing pros and cons…. also if i get in the habit now of the inventory list I should be good when/if I get a bigger freezer right?
Right now i’m more excited to try to list for the pantry…We just bought a new home and I have a tiny skinny thing that they claimed worked fine… yeah no… so i’m going to try to get a hutch from Ikea for pans and the like and use the cubbards I have for food… (my mom says shes surprised we got the house with such a poor kitchen layout…) Any who! So excited to use this list… thinking maybe I’ll stick a list for each cubbard what’s in there instead of just one master? And hope that my husband will help me in using it!
It’s so much easier to inventory everything once you do it the first go around and have a master to work off of! That’s a good idea to inventory each section, whatever makes it easiest on you and your family! 🙂
Thanks for showing your process! I have stuff piled on top of each other and it is tough to track everything or even know how long stuff has been there!
The printable will definitely help out with that!
I flippin’ love your blog! Thank you for showing us the imperfections of your fridge and elsewhere, something too few bloggers do. 😀 We’re all in this together, messy living spaces and all!
Oh girl, we are allll about being real over here! Thanks for the love! XOXO
How do you fill out the Date? Do you put when item expire, when you purchased them, or of when you last took the inventory?
That’s really up to you! We fill out the date as when we took the inventory. But then when we go to grab the food from the freezer, we look at the date and make sure to pull out the oldest one.
What is the difference between the pantry inventory and the kitchen inventory? What do you put on the kitchen inventory?
Some people don’t actually have pantries and have to use their kitchen cabinets to store their food, so the kitchen inventory could be used for that. Or some people have small pantries, but then also have to store their food in their kitchen cabinets or in other closets in the house. This is just a way to help them differentiate what food is where!
People: Don’t forget to also inventory your spices too.
Thank You for these great charts! As for having a place to keep them , go to an office supply store and purchase some peel off magnets (they are in different sizes, and you can trim them to fit or add more and mount them right on the refrigerator or freezer door.