If you inventory your food in your pantry, freezer, and refrigerator, you are sure to reduce what you spend on groceries. If you really want to save money, waste less food, and spend less time shopping, this is something you will definitely want to consider. Just know that to inventory your food, will take a little time, but it also will produce huge savings in your grocery budget! Here’s how we do it.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
WHY INVENTORY YOUR FOOD?
This is an excerpt from the planning chapter of our book, Cut Your Grocery Bill In Half with America’s Cheapest Family. It will help you manage your food inventory and tame food budget so you’ll always have extra money for stocking up on killer deals!
But before we embark on our once-a-month grocery trek, we do want to be efficient and economical, so Annette takes stock of what we have in our pantry and the refrigerator, and Steve inventories the freezer.
Evaluating our stockpile
Annette records the grocery items in a number of categories, noting what we’ll need to buy in order to fulfill our meal plan for the month.
If you go shopping once each week or twice a month you may not have to do a full inventory each time. But this step is still critical for making sure your pantry and freezer are fully stocked. This way, you won’t have to make a special trip to just pick up one missing item for a meal you are preparing. Taking stock also helps us minimize duplicate purchases and reminds us to use the things we already have in the house.
Taking Stock the Easy Way
Using a blank sheet of scrap paper, we make note of the following items and quantities we have in stock. (Of course, your list will differ.)
• We Inventory Breakfast Foods
Eggs, milk, juice, oatmeal, farina, cold cereal, bagels, and ingredients for waffles, pancakes, and French toast. Annette also makes sure our pantry is well stocked with baking soda, flour, baking powder, vanilla, cinnamon, and commonly used spices.
We Inventory Lunch Food and Components
We take stock of how much peanut butter and jelly, tuna, bread, lunch meat, and eggs for egg salad, that we have on hand. Then we also note the number of tortillas and amount of shredded cheese we have for cheese crisps. We also inventory the number of packages of hot dogs, containers of cottage cheese, yogurt, salad fixings, and fruit that we have in our refrigerator and freezers.
We Inventory Dinner Foods in the Chest Freezer
Steve takes almost everything out of our chest freezer (we store items by category in canvas grocery bags), and gets a count of the number of items in each of the following categories:
- lunch meat
He also notes the amount of
- frozen vegetables
We also check our supply of beans, pasta, and other items for meatless meals or side dishes.
And finally, we record anything like leftovers, unused meals, and food items that are in our refrigerator and freezer. We want to make sure we include these in our next menu plan/ meal prep plan for the next month if we can. When you inventory your food, fewer grocery items are wasted and more food is used up in your menu plan. This will save you more money than you think on your grocery budget and stretch your grocery dollars further.
For more information on what we stock in our pantry and freezer, see Chapter 5 of Cut Your Grocery Bill In Half with America’s Cheapest Family.
BONUS: Benefits of Being Organized
Eventually, if you’re disciplined at stocking up on sale items and tracking your inventory, your freezer and pantry will be so well stocked, that you’ll actually be able to plan your weekly meals from what you already have in the house. Your shopping trips will change from buying what you need this week to scoop up bargain-priced food to be used in the future. Now that’s being Money Smart!
For more great ideas to save on groceries, check out our Pinterest page, follow us, and click on our grocery board!