On the front of my freezer, I keep an inventory list. Each year, we have a hog and a beef butchered and I am very "strict" about abiding to the inventory list. After picking up my items from the butcher, I make a master list of every item that was processed before loading the freezer. I include on the list: the date of processing (hog, butchered April 2007), then list the items: pork chops, 2 per package and list the number available in reverse order 13, 12, 11...2, 1. As I take an item out of the freezer and cross a number off, I can see immediately how many I have left in the freezer.
My family can look at the lists (a different color for each species) and we can see if we are getting low on beef or pork and can plan ahead for our meat needs with the farmer and butcher.
I can tell you that I will never again buy straight from the grocery store shelves. Buying in bulk like this is a wonderful option for our family. The quality is so much better with locally raised animals and it's a lot cheaper too.
By Denise from Nebraska
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Have we had a thread on keeping track of all this bulk produce?! Having meat languishing at the bottom of the freezer for years until unfit to eat isn't saving anything. The reason I ask is I have just bought a large freezer mainly to save money but also as I have a yearling cow that I raised from a calf that's getting a bit big to play 'chase Mummy' so it will be butchered. I also have 5 lambs that someone gave me that will go the same way eventually. I am in need of a simple method to keep track of what I have and mark off what I use from the freezer. I have been leaning towards a simple paper method - a form taped to the lid as I know if I'm cooking and have to break off to go to the computer I will probably forget! Does anyone have any fool proof methods?
The paper method is the way to go. I draw a 'floor plan' of the freezer, marked in sections, to indicate the location of the goods, which I have ordered by meats, vegetables, and breads or pasta. Each item is individually dated, though you could add this to the 'floor plan'. Each week, as I think about what we'll be eating, I review the list of freezer contents and decide what, if anything, I want to use. By the way, I keep my list on my refrigerator where I see it every day.
Organization and a guilty conscience work every time! (10/13/2004)
I used to work at a restaurant. What we did, and what I do today, is wrap meat in plastic wrap and then in aluminum foil. Then mark with black marker the date and what type of food it was on the foil. With large/bulk plastic wrap and aluminum foil this ends up being quite cheap for me. Then each type of meat has its own piece of real esate in the freezer.
I have my 2 large freezers also "listed and posted" . These lists are taped to the freezer. Inside my freezer I put everything in boxes. Three layers high and five boxes wide (with an area in the front about 8" wide that goes right to the bottom). All pork in one box. All chicken in one box. All bacon, sausage sticks, in another. One for frozen raspberries, one for strawberries, one for rhubarb, you get the picture. I then know at a glance what I have and don't have.
I inventory everything in my freezer in categories i.e. meat, fruits, vegetables etc. I do put this on a document on my computer. Then I have 2 short running lists on the side of my fridge held by a magnet. One is labeled 'In Freezer', the other 'Out of Freezer'. When I either put or take I write it on the list and when I have time I then go to the computer and change my document. Works like a charm. (10/13/2004)