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Last week we shared a blog post that touched on how to use your freezer to keep inventory of recipe ingredients. This week, we want to elaborate on that topic and teach you exactly how you can use this feature like we do!

Utilizing the Freezer at my house means that I can buy items in bulk, usually at a cheaper price, and have an easy record of items that I have on hand. Once I have those ingredients saved in my Freezer, I can plan my meals based on what I know I have purchased already. This means that I am frequently saving money on groceries, as I am able to stretch the bulk purchases out over several months. Those are all big wins to me!

Using Freezer items alters my planning process. Instead of choosing recipes, then adding them to my planner, I look at what I have on hand and search my recipe book for recipes that include what I already have. I add those recipes to my planner, pull the ingredients from my freezer, then adjust my shopping list. From there, I am ready to go shopping and cook!

For my example process below, I will use frozen meat as an example. This process can be used with any items that you freeze including: fruits, veggies, breads/doughs, sauces, frostings, beans, rice, veggies, or even full frozen meals or casseroles.

Meal Planning from the Freezer Step-by-Step:

1. Create a recipe for each ingredient you want to freeze. They must be added as recipes first, because only saved recipes can be added to your Plan to Eat Freezer. To do this, press the orange “add recipe” button at the top of your Recipe Book.

2. Move to your Planner section. Add the meat recipes that you created to your Planner.

3. Once planned, you can add the cut of meat to your freezer (this video will show you how!) and include the number of servings and meals that eat cut you ordered will make. This will give you an accurate count in your freezer.

Now the item is stored in your Freezer and ready to be used!

4. When you are ready to use the ingredient from your Freezer, begin by adding a recipe to your Planner that includes the ingredient. In the blog post from last week, we used the Filters to find a recipe we already had, but you can also add a new recipe from any website, using the Recipe Clipper, that uses the frozen items you have on hand. Once the recipe is saved in your Recipe Book, drag it onto your Planner.

5. Once the recipe is planned, open your freezer section and drag the correct cut of meat to the same date/meal as the recipe that uses it.

A defrost note is automatically added to your planner the day before the planned recipe, so that you remember to pull it from your Freezer.

6. Your Shopping List will populate with the items you need to purchase for your planned meals. Remove items you already have from your Shopping List, including the chicken included in the recipe. You already have that item in your Freezer!

We know this will streamline your planning-cooking-shopping experience and makes you feel like a true meal planning pro!

This feature is currently available on the desktop site only, but will be launch in the app in coming months! Stay tuned.

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18 Responses

  1. This is really a hack based on what the Plan to Eat system provides to users. There should really be a feature developed that addresses freezer ingredients as well as pantry items.

    User would scan or manually enter in items purchased but not used in a currently planned meal (categorized as pantry or freezer in order to enable prep notes to defrost or not or allow the user to see if they would rather use a pantry item vs a freezer item). User would then plan meals, look at their shopping list compiled from the planned meals. Shopping list would indicate items that are either in the pantry or the freezer in case user would like to use those items or purchase additional/new items when making their final shopping list. If item is “removed” by user from the shopping list, that item is then removed from the pantry or freezer category. These items can be restored also in case something happens where the planned meal was never made.

    This would save me from finding out that I already had an item or figuring out if I didn’t have an item I thought I had. Both scenarios happen to me often, even when double checking the cupboards and freezers.

    1. Thanks so much for your feature suggestions, Deirdra! We’re always working to improve Plan to Eat and your ideas are ones we are already considering to make Plan to Eat more functional for our customers. We had lots of questions about using the freezer last week and wanted to help our customers with this feature as it currently works!

  2. One other thing, if a user can use a feature in a manner that is intentionally not how a feature is suppose to be used and that feature later changes in some way preventing this workflow that has evolved, those customers will be very unhappy or Plan to Eat will have to continue to support legacy workflows of a feature to keep customers happy in addition to the new workflow of the feature. It is in best practice to create specific features for very specific workflows or ideas.

  3. The article starts out by saying that ‘last week there was a blog post about…’ but I can’t find this blog post anywhere. Please could you include a link to it? Thanks.

  4. I really need to explore my Plan to Eat app a bit more-I never even noticed the ‘freezer’ function. Thanks for the info!

    1. Happy to help you, Connie! This feature is available on the web version of our site and will be in the app soon!

  5. Thank you for reminding me about this feature. I actually had several freezer meals from 2 years ago still in my inventory… This is a great tutorial for using the feature as a Pantry, since I’ve never been able to make the Pantry work for me.

    One thing I could add is that when creating the item ‘recipe’, I fill out as much info as applies:
    –Source – where I purchased/received the item (might be important if it’s a specialty)
    –Servings – generally 4 per Yield – 1 pound
    –Course – Pantry-Freezer (makes the ‘recipe’ easy to pull back up when I’m replenishing stock & helps with menu planning.

    My only concern with using the ‘recipes’ in this way is that I already have nearly a thousand actual recipes & this will expand the browsing even more. A feature that has been frequently requested for YEARS is the ability to collapse courses in the recipe browsing mode to make it easier to find and plan from the home page. I would love to see that implemented (or some other solution to make the homepage less tedious to use for planning).

    1. Hi Hana,

      Thanks for those tips and feedback! We recommend adding tags to these frozen items for easy searching, but we appreciate your request and I’ll make sure the development team knows about it!

  6. I love the idea of being able to see my freezer options. However, needing to create a recipe for a bag of hashbrown or 1/2 a bag of frozen fruit, plan that recipe and then add it to the freezer is pretty tedious and somewhat silly. It would be much simpler, and streamline the process as you stated, by just being able to add ingredients to the freezer as well as full frozen recipes. I was excited about this idea but now looking at it seems so overwhelming!

    1. Hi Gwyn, Thanks for your feedback! We are looking into adding an option for individual items in the Freezer, however this is the method we currently recommend! We appreciate you taking the time to read the blog!

  7. I really like the idea of having an inventory of what’s in the pantry and freezer.

    I especially like what the previous blogger said..”Shopping list would indicate items that are either in the pantry or the freezer in case user would like to use those items or purchase additional/new items when making their final shopping list. If item is “removed” by user from the shopping list, that item is then removed from the pantry or freezer category. These items can be restored also in case something happens where the planned meal was never made.”

    To prevent others who find this function problematic….. you could add a feature to either use it or disable it.

    I love your app and have gifted it to some of my family. My daughter has her own now but when we are both in Arizona in the winter we share meals every other day, so she uses mine so we know what each other is planning. No duplications that way. GOOD WORK…THANKS

  8. It would have more functionality if the user could control how many days to pull from the freezer ahead of cooking. I have many things that take more than one day to thaw

    1. Hi Robin, thanks for the suggestion! I will add this to the internal request list for the development team to see as they plan future updates.

  9. It’s been three years since this thread. Has there been any update to incorporating the ability to just add items to your freezer without having to do the “create a meal” hack. This app is meant to make life easier and that’s a lot of steps to make up for what should be one click.

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