This time of year it’s easy for me to unnecessarily rack up the grocery bill, even though we grow a large percentage of our own food and there is still plenty in the larder.
Why? Because by now we’ve consumed most of our favorite preserved foods and what we haven’t eaten, I’m hoarding, hoping to stretch it out over these last few months of fresh food scarcity. Now we’re left with the foods that we haven’t taken notice of for awhile and might have forgotten we had.
Freezers also tend to get a bit disorganized over time and a few items get buried in a back corner of a shelf or buried in the bottom of the chest freezer.
So, when I notice that my Costco list is growing, that’s a sign that it’s time for an inventory of my food storage.
So, where does one start?
The first thing I do is to make a list of every food type I have. I take a note pad and a pen and head to the pantry.
I divide the list into two columns; The first column I write down the item (such as pickles or green beans) and in the next column I write the amount of jars I have left.
The last few canned peaches and pears are out of sight, out of mind. They are a special treat now.
I repeat the process with the items in my freezer…
hmmm, looks like we’ll be having a few stir-fry’s with snap peas.
Oh joy! We still have a bag of frozen peaches!! Peach milkshakes all around this afternoon!
Keeping track also helps to balance our usage of steaks, roasts, and chicken so we do not blow through one type too quickly.
Then I inventory my dry goods. I check to see if any of my containers are getting light. We keep a wipe-off board and a dry-erase pen above the containers and write down what is in the back row. This has saved me a lot of time trying to find what I need.
Even with the wipe-off board, this is still an area in my pantry that needs constant attention. After digging to the bottom back corner for the container of pastry flour when trying to make a batch of muffins hurriedly before school, it’s easy to leave the containers strewn out on the floor. “I’ll straighten it out next time I’m down here.” Then later that week, my son decides to bake…you get the idea.
The classic ‘before’ picture
Ahh…much better. I know what’s down here now!
Once I get everything recorded, I transfer the information to an Excel spreadsheet. Yep, you heard this farm girl right, an Excel spreadsheet. That way I can go in and change the quantities when we use up an item.
Having this chart in my kitchen is very handy when planning meals. I just make notes and then update the sheet at the end of the week. I now know what I have in the dark recesses of my freezer. When it’s time to restock the freezers with this year’s harvest, I won’t find a forgotten 10 lbs. of snap peas that we need to finish off in the next week to make more room.