Freezer/pantry inventory made easy

January 26, 2012 by
Filed under: Grocery, News 

How do you keep track of your food?  How much do you throw away because it goes bad before you can use it?  Ever found something embarrassingly old in your freezer or pantry?  I’ve got my hand raised.  But it’s a very rare occurrence these days because of something I came up with a few years ago.

One of my money saving bibles, The Complete Tightwad Gazette, is usually one I use to draw inspiration for money-saving ideas in my every day life. But I didn’t like the method. The example was to take a piece of paper and inventory the freezer, making an X for every item in each category. Then, as you consumed the items, you circled the X to indicate the item was taken out of the freezer.

UGH!  My paper was wrinkled and a mess just a few months after using it with all those circles and cross marks on it.  It looked like a giant tic-tac-toe game!

This is how I do it for my chest freezer but can easily be adapted for smaller freezer or even your pantry stockpile:

  • Get a dry erase board, 1 permanent marker and 1 dry erase marker of a different color.
  • On a piece of paper, figure out how many categories you need and how many items in each category (example: Vegetables, Fruit, Dairy, Ready-Made Meals,etc)
  • Draw grid lines with permanent marker on the board using a straight edge
  • Write your Categories on the grid with permanent marker, making sure to leave enough room in each for different items
  • Write down items in each category.  For items I regularly buy, I use permanent marker.  For items that I stumble upon, I use Dry erase marker
  • Take inventory!
  • Use the dry erase marker to make a hash mark for each item you have
  • Hang on or near the freezer
  • The hardest part: remembering to wipe off a hash mark when you pull something out!

You can also take a closer look at my dry erase board on my very first appearance as The Bargain Sleuth on my In the Media page or by clicking here. After the story aired, the number one thing people mentioned to me was the dry erase board and what a good idea it was!  That and how much they enjoyed me telling the kids we didn’t need to buy pudding packs, I can make pudding and put it in reusable containers. :-)

Want more information on food waste and what you can do to prevent it?  The guys over at Milwaukee Consumer wrote about it, too.  You can read that article by clicking here.

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