Keeping track of what you have in your kitchen is key to saving money when grocery shopping and meal planning.
I've been cooking in my own kitchen for quite sometime, since 2005 when I was living alone in collage, while I don’t consider myself old, thank you very much, I guess I’ve spent a good amount of time in the kitchen.
Even before I moved away from home, the kitchen was one of my favorite places. Whether I was baking with my grandmother or helping my mom prep dinner for our large family, the kitchen was my happy place. And over time, my freezer has become one of my most beloved possessions.
The home freezer, that miraculous invention of the 1940s, it’s been a tool to help me save time, money, and to have a bit more peace of mind. Over the years my home freezer has served me well. Here’s why.
1. I save time.
Through freezer cooking, I can stash a variety of home cooked meals and meal components to enjoy at a later date. Currently I have batches of taco meat, bags of cooked chicken, and bags of marinated chicken. These will make some great, quick meals in the month to come, saving me a ton of time, shopping and cooking.
2. I save money.
Buying and cooking in bulk can save me a bundle, in part thanks to lower per unit costs on bulk items, but also because we don’t eat out when we have meals ready to go. Freezer cooking helps our family eat well – at home — and spend less. In addition to my homemade meals, I use the freezer to help me stockpile good deals that I see, that might be a great sale on chicken breast. My freezer helps me load up on the items we know we’ll use but don’t want to pay full pop for later on when we have a craving for grilled chicken.
3. I have more peace of mind.
I do feel better when I know we’ve got food in the house. My freezer is my faithful friend in the kitchen. It helps me feed my family well on a budget and pinch hits on dinner whenever I need it to.
How to make it work?
Whether you have an itty-bitty fridge freezer or a large deep freeze, it doesn’t help you a whole lot if you don’t know what you have. Often we forget about something so long that we end up chucking it.
Over the years, I’ve learned how to keep a freezer inventory that works for me. It’s pretty simple and involves zero technology. Sure, there are a few apps out there that will help you keep a kitchen inventory, but I find the pen easier than the keypad.
All you need is a piece of paper, a pen, and a few minutes of your time.
1. List everything you have in the freezer.Sometimes it helps to pull things out. Organize while you’re in there, stacking like with like, if you can.
2. Count how many you have of each item and tick ins and outs of the freezer.These ticks represent each individual item.You’re basically communicating to yourself and the other cooks in the household the identity and size of every inhabitant in your freezer. So you know what's left in your freezer stockpile.
3. Each time you take something out of the freezer, mark it.Make sure to ask/insist that the other cooks do the same.
4. Consult your inventory.Check in when you do your meal plan for the week and definitely before you go shopping.
Check the free printable of the freezer inventory
A pantry is a room where beverages, food, and sometimes dishes, household cleaning chemicals, linens, or provisions are stored.
What you need to start your pantry:
It's all up to you and your preference, although there are a few essentials for any pantry, I provided you with the common Pantry Foods and their shelf life, check them out.
Check the free printable categorized grocery shopping list.
Why Pantries are so important in every house?
Keeping extra food in the house is important to me for many reasons:
- My family feels secure knowing there is always food in the house.
- I can stock up on key ingredients when food is on sale. Real food on a budget.
- I have plenty of food around to create last-minute meals, which cuts down on fast food runs. A weekly meal planning is preferable.
- In case of emergency (natural disaster, illness, job loss, etc.) we would have food on hand.
- I hardly ever have to make a spur-of-the-moment store run, because I have plenty of food on hand and I can make substitutions to use what I have.
Check the free printable of the pantry inventory.
To refrigerate or not to refrigerate, that is the question.
Okay, so maybe Hamlet didn't say those exact words, but it's certainly a topic many have pondered.
The FDA recommends refrigerating or freezing perishable foods right away. Meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, and certain kinds of produce should never be kept at room temperature for more than two hours, or not more than one hour if the temperature is above 90 degrees Fahrenheit. But what about other foods?
Eggs - Yes: You should always refrigerate eggs to prevent the risk of infection from salmonella bacteria.
Butter - Optional : It's recommended to refrigerate butter, and freezing butter if you're not going to use it within one to two days. But many people keep butter in a covered dish outside the fridge. Since it's made from pasteurized milk, it's less likely to grow bacteria.
Tomatoes - No: If tomatoes are kept in the fridge, they lose their flavor. That's because the cold air stops them from ripening and breaks down their cell membranes, giving the fruit that characteristic mealy taste.
Cheese - Yes: Some kinds of cheese, especially soft cheeses such as brie or ricotta, should always be refrigerated. Others, such as pasteurized or aged cheeses like Parmesan, may not need to be refrigerated (but consult package instructions).
The shelf life of refrigerated and freezed of other foods will be found in this list.
Check the free printable of the fridge inventory.
I hope you liked this post. Please give me feedback and share with me your tips on inventory tracking.