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Posted on Apr 3, 2007 in Freezing, Organize, Parent Hacks, Tips, Tutorial or How-to | 33 comments

Magnets to track freezer inventory

Magnets to track freezer inventory

A number of my speedy lunch tips involve making food ahead of time and freezing it in individual portions to throw into a packed lunch. Keeping track of what’s in your freezer is key to being able to cycle through it regularly (avoiding freezer burn and food waste). I’ve tried different techniques, but haven’t been able to stick with anything too demanding that requires me (or my husband) to write down exactly what we take out or put in each time (ack). I did find a pretty straightforward technique in Shufu no Tomo’s book on freezing in my collection of food books, though: make magnets using photos from the weekly supermarket advertising pages, magnetic sheets sold at dollar stores, and tape. I sometimes scan through new ad circulars as they come to see if there are additional photos that might be good freezer magnet candidates.

Homemade magnets for freezer inventory

You can work out your own system, but here I’ve put magnets indicating the food I have on the narrow side of the freezer door, and food I don’t have (but might pick up sometime) on the right hand side. I actually use these magnets on our large chest freezer in the basement (i.e. the Black Hole for frozen food), but brought some upstairs to show on a regular refrigerator. Anyone else have a handy system? Tell us about it! (UPDATE: Also check out the round-up of ways readers organize their lunch gear.)

To make the magnets, you can use any thin magnets — I picked up a big yellow magnetic sheet from Daiso (dollar store), and also used paper-thin freebie magnets we’ve accumulated over the years from pizza delivery, online ordering, etc. Cut out little photos of food you commonly freeze, tape it to the thin magnet with either double-sided tape or regular tape looped over onto itself, and cut to shape. I disregard brand names, of course: I don’t have Eggo waffles in my freezer, but I do have homemade mini pancakes for packed lunches and fast breakfasts for Bug.

Making magnets for freezer inventory

If you wanted to get elaborate with this, craft stores stock special magnetic products you could use with custom photos of your own choosing, and you could finish the top and seal the edges for durability. That’s a little much for me, but I bet they’d be cool magnets! For larger views of either photo, click on it, then click the “All Sizes” button above the photo.

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  1. As someone that just moved into her first real apartment with a roomie (living with cousins doesnt count), I LOVE this idea! :D

    I was wondering though, where did you pick up the towel paper dispenser and that other side shelf? Those are genius; our kitchen has limited counter space, have to get creative.

  2. I believe I got the magnetic paper towel dispenser from Bed Bath & Beyond a long time ago, and I got the little magnetic basket (now holding garlic and shallots) from a dollar store in Japan. I’ve also seen them at Daiso and Ichiban Kan (Japanese dollar stores in San Francisco) — surely they’ve got to be sold at normal stores elsewhere. Anyone else know of common sources?

  3. this is one of your best tips! really!!
    I’m heading to the store right now to buy some magnet-sheet o_o

    What i use is a little note-book that has a magnet attached so you can put it on the fridge’s door. Whenever I run out of something, i write it down (it also comes with a little pen) so I don’t forget what i need to buy. but i have nothing to know what do i actually have inside! :D

    My mum, when she freezes something, she writes with a permanent pen on the tupper-ware or whatever the package she uses. There are also some stores that sell tupper-wares with a sticker on which you can use perm markers (and erase them if needed), so you can write down what you have in the box, when did you put it there and until when you can use it :D

    but i like your method best! :D

  4. This is the best system I’ve ever used. Decor’s Tellfresh range (http://www.decor.com.au/). The tags clip in and out and are fun to write on (the pencil writes so well on the special surface) and easy to erase, and are washable/durable. The containers are clear, modern in design, and come in an incredible array of volumes and shapes. Please excuse the large pic…

  5. Found you on also. Love your journal; am adding you to my FList. No need to add me back.

  6. Good ideas! I use a lot of freezer bags, and write the date on that (but it’s not on the outside of the freezer).

  7. That looks very interesting, thanks for the info!

  8. Absolutely, no need to ask! Thanks for the kind words. :-)

  9. Thanks, spocks_girl! Love the name, BTW.

  10. that’s right, and sometimes the ice spoils the ink… Your method’s cool! :D

  11. oh gosh! that is so nifty! :D

  12. Thanks, sivmui!

  13. great idea. i’m terrible at any kind of organizing, but this is clever. i’m very visual and sometimes that food doesn’t look like what it is in the container:)

  14. btw i came over from tip nut fyi

  15. @16 from kelli: I LOVE tip nut! Welcome, and I’m glad you got something out of the refrigerator magnet tip.

  16. That is the best freezer management system I’ve heard of ever! Thanks for a great idea. And Brava on the Food Blog Award this year, you really deserve it!

  17. @18 from manju: Thanks on both counts, manju! The magnet thing was a total “slap forehead” thing when I came across it in my freezing book — so simple and glanceable!

  18. @20 from Uyek: Although I really want to like Pizza Orgasmica (great namings & gimmicks!), we’re actually not all that impressed with their pizzas. Too bad, but at least I got some nifty magnets out of the deal!

  19. I have 3 dry erase boards on my fridge.

    One for what I have in stock, one for what I need, and one for expiration dates.

  20. @22 from Candi: Dry erase boards? I like it!

  21. Great idea. I’m going to try this for my vegetable drawer. I always forget what’s in there. Also would be great for my dry food cabinet.

  22. @24 from Sharon J: Do you have something on your dry food cabinet for the magnets to stick on? That’d be my bottleneck.

  23. @25 Biggie: Not right now, but I was thinking of getting a small magnetic dry erase board and put those removable mounting tape on the back.

  24. Love this idea! I have resisted getting a separate deep freezer thinking things would get wasted in the big black hole. You’ve given me hope.

    I use sharpie on painter’s tape to label things in the fridge and freezer.

  25. @27 from Kelly Powers: Ah, sharpie marker and paper tape — a classic combo that never goes out of style!

  26. at my house we just make sure our fridge/freezer is organized, meat on one shelf, drinks on another leftovers on the bottom shelf and in the fridge we have three drawers one for fruit, one for veggies, and one for cold cuts,
    our door is organized with condiments and salad dressings

  27. @29 from Tony: Sounds like a plan, Tony!

  28. I love this idea. Should laminate the top so that you can write the expiration date on it and remove the date and reuse it.

  29. Instead of magnet sheets from the dollar store, if your phonebook comes with magnet ads, you could save and reuse them.

    Also good if you take pieces of white plastic, like from dairy container lids, and write in pencil on them what you have in the fridge, like ’1/2 lb asparagus’ or ‘taco meat’ so stuff doesn’t get lost in the back and become a scientific curiosity.

  30. @karen cook: i don’t understand the white lid thing. could you explain more? where do you put it? and when you write it pencil does it show up? erase? thanks :) kelli

  31. I have stuck magnets to the back of the tags from Decor’s Tellfresh range (http://www.decor.com.au/). I can then write what I have in the freezer and stick it on the outside of the freezer. The problem I find with using supermarket advertising is that they don’t advertise the meals that I make and freeze, such as potato bake or beetroot risotto. This way, I can keep a track of the meals in the freezer

  32. Can I say I love you? In a friendly way? XD

  33. Great idea. And I love your towel dispenser. Now I can see so many options – little bags to wrap your meals etc.
    I can add one thing – you can use http://photoinst.com/ to make magnets from your photos. So your magnets will be more personal. You can make stories with them!