Pantry Inventory 101

Pantry Inventory 101 using a Metal Shelf for Organization and Accessibility Copyright Adrienne Z. Milligan
Pantry Inventory 101 using a Metal Shelf for Organization and Accessibility

Pantry Inventory 101:  Do you know what is in your pantry?

Over the years we have done a “pantry inventory” to see what we have and items that we need to purchase.  We used to do this about every six months as a family project.  It used to take a good part of the day (especially when our boys were younger).  Now, we can usually do it in a couple of hours if we all stay focused.

How to track the inventory

The problem has been keeping track of what we still have and what has been used in between the full pantry recount of the inventory.  This has been a struggle for us and not just about tracking the food.  We have had discussions about how to track it, if we need to track it, and where to keep the tracking information.

For a while, we were diligent about marking off each item used from the pantry.  We did well.  Then we made a big meal and kept grabbing more cans off of the shelf.  We forgot to mark off the items with the excuse of “we will do it later.”  Right.  Later came and went without the tracking sheet being brought current.

I have read multiple blog posts by others on this topic.  Each person and family has their own way of doing it.  Whatever works for them is what they need to use.  As long as, in the end, you know how much food you have and what you need to continue adding, it is all good.  I will write more about these different ways in another post.

Counting the food

Normally, when we do our full pantry inventory, the older boys take everything off of the shelves.  The little boys help in the process as much as they can for their age.

Once the shelves are cleared, Jonathan will stack the items as the boys take him cans, boxes, and bags.  Jonathan organizes by expiration date so that the oldest is in front.

First In, First Out (F.I.F.O.)

Why does he organize the food by expiration date?  Food storage food needs to be used according to the F.I.F.O. principle of “First In, First Out.”  It can get a little crazy with lots of cans that have a wide range of expiration dates.

There is a benefit to purchasing the boxed cases of canned fruit or vegetables like the ones sold at Costco.  The box can be opened and placed on the shelf.  No stacking of cans and all cans inside have the same expiration date.

As each item is taken back to Jonathan from our living room floor, I write down the numbers.  Sometimes I write down the items and then the quantities.  Other times, I remember to print out my list so that I can just write down how much we have of each item.

What to store in the pantry for daily eating and emergencies

So what do we store in our food storage?  We store food.  We store a variety of beans, rice, pastas, grains, flours, sugars, baking supplies, fruits, vegetables, and more.  We also store items needed for emergencies like candles, mess kits, flashlights, batteries, and other non-food items.

Once we have counted it all and reorganized the shelves, I am able to determine what we need to purchase to add back what we have used.  Also, it helps us build to our desired amount of each item that we have previously determined.

Pantry Inventory 101 featuring freshly milled flours and baking supplies Copyright Adrienne Z. Milligan
Pantry Inventory 101 featuring freshly milled flours and baking supplies

“Eat what you store and store what you eat.”

If you have done any emergency preparedness planning at all, I am sure you have heard this quote often.  It bears remembering as it is the best way to make sure you buy what you eat, eat what you buy, and use it before it goes bad.
By doing a Pantry Inventory, it will help you see how much food you really do (or do not) have in the house.  Sometimes it is surprising how much food we really do have in the home.  This allows me to better use what we have for the next month’s menu.

How do you track your pantry inventory?

What system do you use to keep track of your pantry’s inventory?  I would love to hear how you manage it for your family.


Note:  This was originally posted on my writing site at Adrienne Z. Milligan.  This post now has its home here on Gluten Free Preppers.