Over the years I’ve learned many ways to save money on groceries (without coupons!) When you have four growing boys who will eat everything in the house when not monitored then you have to keep said house stocked well. In comes the deep (chest) freezer. This freezer was a gift to us so I am not complaining. However, I would not have purchased a deep freezer given the choice. I’ve had an upright freezer and I know how easy they are to maintain and organize. Deep freezers pose many challenges in these areas yet they are the most purchased of the two since they are much less expensive.
I used to keep a log of everything in my deep freezer, especially since it is so difficult to tell what is in there at times. Ribs on top of chicken on top of sausage… I’ve had many “where’s the beef?” moments in my home. The problem is that even if you can maintain that freezer inventory list then you still have to dig everything out of the freezer in order to find your small pack of stew meat. And I guarantee you that if you are short on time it will be all the way in the back corner at the very bottom and when you find it the plastic will be ripped. *sigh* If you have a deep freezer then you are probably familiar with this scenario.
Well, I found a solution that works for us. Maybe you can work it in your home too.
First, I reuse all of my plastic baggies as extra reinforcement for the meats. That way if they are handled a bit too rough the main plastic covering won’t tear.
Second, I no longer retire my reusable shopping bags. At first when meats would contaminate the bag or when they would start to become unsturdy then I would place them in the recycle bin. Then one day I got smart and decided to organize my freezer using those bags. Now all of my poultry is in one bag, all of my beef is in another and so on. It also makes it easy to lift them out of the freezer to get to the seafood bag.
BONUS: Having our meats in these bags has saved us money more than once since little boys in a hurry to get back outside with their Popsicles tend to leave the freezer lid up. The bags insulate all of the frozen meat and even after 9 hours of leaving the lid up they were still rock solid. Yes, said Popsicle children are
tortured disciplined for leaving the lid open.
Once I started using the bags to organize I realized just how mundane and time consuming it is to keep that freezer inventory list. Let’s not mention that it drove my ADDness crazy because I can’t stand for something to be scratched through or not neat and organized and doing it on the computer and reprinting it each time wasn’t feasible. I tried creating many different printables for the freezer inventory and I couldn’t find one method that I liked. It was just too much work to deal with. Then I got the idea to tag my bags.
I made dozens and dozens of tags, color coding each according to their meat bag:
- red: beef
- light blue: seafood
- purple: venison (deer meat)
- green: poultry
- orange: pork
- bright blue: everything else (lamb, bison, etc)
I made tags for all of the types/cuts of meats I buy regularly and made enough for about how many I purchase or how I bag them. Example, I usually have 7-10 two pound packs of ground beef in my freezer at a time because I stock up when it is on sale so I made 10 red ground beef tags. I use binder clips (don’t you just love binder clips?) to attach the tags to the corresponding bags.
I have printables for the tags that I use. I have provided each color. All printables are in .doc files and can be edited using Microsoft Word or the free open source software called Open Office. To customize them you only need to find the text box, type in the name of the meat, change the font to how you want it and save. After you customize them to suit your needs print them out on cardstock. Then to make it easy to get them on and off of the binder clip (without opening the clip each time) hole punch the tip and cut a slit from the side to the hole punch. It makes it super easy to add or take away tags as needed and makes freezer inventory lists unnecessary.
Now when I go to my chest freezer to find venison backstrap I simply look for the purple tags, sift through the tags to make sure I have that particular meat and if I do then I remove it from the bag and slide the tag off and drop it in my tag holder. When one of my boys bring home more deer backstrap from a hunting excursion then I can add it back. Super simple, yeah?
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To read the other posts in this series visit: 31 Days of Free Printables