I am trying to find the best way to label my leftover food in the fridge. I need something simple, quick and convenient. Any ideas? Thanks!
I don't bother labeling unless it is going into the freezer.
I put things in clear containers and make sure someone eats them in two or three days... we can remember what's inside in that time frame.
When our college guy is home, things disappear later that night or the next day!
If they won't be eaten by the third day, I label and freeze instead.
I only label food that goes in the freezer, as well, and use a roll of white self-adhesive labels (about 3/4-inch by 2-1/2-inches) that are designed to stick to plastic containers in the freezer or refrigerator. A roll of labels has "tons" on it - 250 or 500? - I forget. I get it from one of the "junk" catalogs I get in the mail - Lillian Vernon, or one of the others.... I also cut the 2-1/2-inch labels in half, so I get twice as many from the roll. I've been using this roll since June 2005 with no end in sight and use them daily. Trick - remove them before you wash the container or you get a sticky residue on the container.
About those foods in the refrigerator... Good menu planning will include leftovers so they shouldn't get lost or remain unused. I also agree about putting them in clear containers. Much less likely to get ignored. I also place all leftovers in one area of the refrigerator.
Here's how I plan to use leftovers: Tonight I'm cooking ground bison that comes in a 1-pound chub. I'm making a meatloaf from 1/2-pound ground bison. I'll fry the ramining 1/2-pound, drain, and store it in the refrigerator to use tomorrow. Half of that cooked amount will be used for lunch (loose meat sandwich with bbq sauce on a homemade multi-grain sandwich roll for hubby and I'll have a meatloaf sandwich with leftover meatloaf on 100% whole wheat bread - also made at home), and the remaining cooked amount will be used in taco salads for supper by warming it, adding some taco seasonings and black beans I cook in a Thermos - topped with shredded lettuce, tomato, homemade tortilla chips, etc.
I also do not label leftovers in the fridge. Most of the time, leftovers become somebody's lunch the next day. If there is more that is not needed for lunch, I have some rubbermaid containers divided in 2 or 3 sections where I place leftovers and freeze them (one night's potatoes, another's chicken, another's zucchini, etc) and these become lunches from when there are no leftovers or if we are starving and don't feel like cooking (these meals are still more enjoyable than McDonald's).
There are some items that I make in large portions to freeze to cook a meal at another time, like leftover baked chicken, cooked ground beef, double batch of meatballs, gnocchi, marinara, lasagna, plain par-baked pizza crust, etc. These items are labled on their freezer bag and go into their own space in the freezer. I have a list of these items on a white board on the freezer (there is one at Wal-Mart that comes with magnets for hanging for around $6). On more rushed evenings, I can look at this whiteboard, pull something out and whip up dinner.
I prefer pyrex-type glass containers so I can see what's inside, but I also have a few solid white corning ware containers with white lids. To those I apply a strip of scotch tape to the lid and write on the tape with a sharpie. Simple and efficient.
Since we love leftovers and remade things, I often make more than one meal during one cooking session. Everyone in the house needs to know what's in the containers so they can help themselves. Our fridge is always chock full of good things to eat.
I keep an ink pen and masking tape in a drawer beside my fridge. Masking tape stays on in the freezer too. I just put the name of the food and date on the tape and stick it to the container.
Good luck using your plan-overs.
I have a sharpie and masking tape too. Although if there's problems with the adhesive I might try painter's tape. But I don't expect any big problems. I don't mark much. I can usually tell the stuff apart easily enough.
Mostly, I can tell what's what by using see through containers. I also try to use clear in the freezer (have a foodsaver), but I do use a sharpie, mostly for the date.
I use clear deli containers for fridge and freezer storage (they cost about .10-12 EACH at the local bar supply, so a very economical way to go). It's easy to see what's inside, and I group things in the freezer so I know where they are. No real need to label.
When I do need to label something, I write on the lid with a Sharpie, then when I've used the food, clean the lid with alcohol.
Almost any leftovers in the frig are in glass or SS with clear wrap on top. We try to keep these items on the upper right shelves. Just now, there are two bowls of cream of asparagus soup...slim pickings -LOL! Also, leftover status goes to the homemade breads or rolls.
Our frig freezer is in the base, and it gets "quick meal" (left-over) items, icecream, juice, and frozen condiments. This frig freezer also gets portions left from the larger freezer cartons. For example, when making a double recipe of blueberry muffins or a cobbler, I place the remaining BBs in the frig freezer for additions to breakfast oatmeal or pancakes. Just now, there is a packet of leftover boned roast chicken banded to a two cup bag of cooked kamut-ready to stir-fry with onions, celery, and leftover veggies,etc.
For labels, I use some white sticky ones I got years ago from my coop. They are the kind that fit a hand held price device. Each label is only about 1"x3/4"-but my shorthand rarely requires two labels. (They were $7 for 7 rolls, I have to take one roll to office depot to see if they can get them for me). For ex, raspberries are RZ-07. Chicken sandwiches that I made today are CKN 5.3.08.
Labeling is important for any volunteer cooks!...such as DH!...who is quite skilled at finding food in the frig-IF it is not behind anything!