As you know, making frugal choices is very important to me. I strive to be a good steward in everything that I do. I hate to admit this but despite my frugal endeavors, I still find myself throwing away food. Every time you throw away food, you are literally throwing away your money.
If you read my previous post on meal-planning, you know that I recommend taking an inventory of what ingredients you have on hand. This way you know how much food you have and you know when you’re getting low and need to restock. There are a number of reasons this is important:
- Choosing recipes for your meal plan by using what you already have at home is a wise decision because you obviously won’t have to purchase as many groceries, thus saving money. I always try to make my meal plans around the meat I have on hand in my freezer. This saves a lot of money since meat is such an expensive item. To save money on meat purchases, we purchase meat in bulk and we also eat a lot of wild game (deer, goose, and turkey.)
- By having an inventory, you are eliminating duplicate purchases and ending up with too many of one item. If I don’t refer to my inventory list prior to making my grocery list, sometimes my memory fails me and I purchase another of an item I already have. Who needs three bottles of the same thing-Not me! And on top of that, if it is an item that you don’t use frequently, you run the risk of throwing it away before you have the opportunity to use it all up! (There’s that wasting money issue again!)
I have 2 different freezer inventory lists that I keep on hand. I have an inventory sheet for my chest freezer in the basement which I keep on the freezer so that every time I remove an item, I am reminded to mark it off the list. I also keep an inventory of the freezer upstairs because it holds a lot of food as well. It is important to ensure that you are marking the items off as you use them to keep your list accurate. I don’t know about you, but if I don’t check it off the list as soon as I do it, I will forget! You don’t want all of the time and effort you put into completing the inventory to be wasted. I also keep a list of all of our home-canned items. Again, I keep it on the canning shelf so that when I remove an item, it is handy to mark off the item. I do not currently keep an inventory of my pantry items because all of the items are very visible when I open my cupboards. I don’t see the need to keep a checklist since it is all so easy to see how much I have of each item.
So, the inventory process itself is pretty self-explanatory. I take all of the food out of the freezer and organize it on the table. I count how many of each item I have. I use a sheet of graph paper and list the different food items down the left hand side, then I highlight one square for each one of that item (if I have 10 1-lb packages of ground venison, I highlight 10 squares.) Be detailed with your inventory-you always want to know what you have prior to making grocery lists. As I mentioned above, you don’t want to get to the grocery store and over-buy just because you can’t remember if you have a particular ingredient.
This method has definitely saved us a ton of money! It makes my meal-planning and grocery planning a lot simpler since I know what I have on hand. Keeping a food inventory and meal-planning go hand-in-hand! This is an excellent way to add more organization to your kitchen and more order to your homemaking routines!