Earlier this month, I shared how I took inventory of my first aid and medications items. Through this helpful exercise I found duplicate items, expired items, and gaps in my stockpile. I’ve decided to carry that same process to encompass my entire stockpile, tackling one new section at a time. And of course, I thought I’d bring you along for the ride.
Last week, I decided to go for the gizzard and tackle my pantry.
Before I got to work, I put a little thought into this. I’ve been wanting to inventory my items for years, but why? Was there a real reason for doing this beyond a making a pretty list? There was. Here’s what I came up with.
- Saving money. This year one goal I’ve set for myself is to become more of a conscious spender. I’m not just talking about reducing impulse buys (though that’s always a great goal). I’m talking about working to ensure the things that I’m picking up at the store are things that will serve a purpose in my stockpile.
- Saving time. One discovery I made when I took inventory of my first aid stockpile is that I really had more than I thought I did! A couple weeks ago, I was happy to find Visine on sale at Rite Aid. This was something I had just identified on my list as needing! As I hone my inventory list I can quickly determine which deals are worth chasing and which I can sit out.
- Better management of expiration dates. Wasted food is no good. I never want a stockpile so big that stuff goes bad! So I wanted a way I could easily manage when things are coming up on expired dates for rotation and/or meal planning.
- Better household management. The purpose of stockpiling is having the things on hand my family needs before they need them, right? So what good does it do me if I don’t entirely even know what I have? One thing I’ve come to consider is how beneficial it would be to have a regular checklist and method of monitoring my stockpile.
With these goals in mind, I started by thoroughly cleaning out my pantry and freezer. (The fridge wasn’t terrible, but it might need my Martha Stewart’s touch soon.)
I’ve also spent some time in cleaning up the bulk foods section of my pantry. If you’re new to my site, you should know I have a big heart love for bulk food shopping. The pretty bins I was able to snag at One King’s Lane when they had a sale awhile ago. I’ve improvised for some of the other items with canning and used (and rinsed!) food jars.
With things in place, I was then able to work on my inventory list. Of course, I built it on Excel. I’ll show you why in a minute:
I started by making broad categories such as canned, breakfast, and freezer. Then, I put in descriptions of items. Here are a few decisions I made before doing this that made the process much simpler:
- I only counted UNOPENED boxes. If something was halfway gone (i.e., partially eaten box of cereal), I did not count it. I see a stockpile as items you have at the ready, and I didn’t want to have to wonder about how to count items that we’re in the process of using.
- I only included items I want to have at all times. Sure, the deal on the Nutri-Grain bars we got was a great one last year. But if we don’t have Nutri-Grain bars (or any cereal bars, for that matter), my family doesn’t care. It’s not an essential item around here. Cereal, oatmeal, pasta sauce, and soup on the other hand? Yes, we use those items regularly!
- I included items I want to have, but don’t have currently. For instance I like having canned tomato sauce on hand. We’re out. I just added it to my inventory list with a quantity of “0.”
To ensure that this is a functioning list of something I will actually use, I decided to include a frequency column. For each item, I noted if it’s something I should check on the status on every week or month. Since my list is in Excel, I can easily sort the list to help do my weekly or monthly grocery shopping!
Remember that one of my initial goals with this exercise was to help encourage me to be a conscious spender. So I decided to build into my inventory list two sets of prices – one for what I feel would be a stock-up price for each, and the other as a top-end price.
This list is still very much a work in progress, but I’m happy to share it with you today as an Excel Download so you can get started with your own list: Food Inventory List (Excel Only) For those of you without access to Excel, or who would prefer just a worksheet version, here’s the pdf: Inventory List Worksheet (pdf)
I have two more areas in my house I plan on continuing this process for: household (laundry & cleaning supplies, paper products, lightbulbs, batteries, toys, gift supplies, etc) and health & beauty (personal care items, cosmetics, body wash, toothcare, etc). While this has definitely taken some time to put together, I’m feeling like my stockpile will serve a better purpose and that I’ll save some time and money in the long run!
Have any of you done something similar? Any other thoughts or ideas for how to best inventory your stockpile?
Want to chat stockpiling some more? Here are some posts for ya!
And a short video of me sharing ideas for how to build a stockpile: