There are so many ways to keep track of your food storage, so I thought I’d share how I do it with a spreadsheet. Whoever created the “spreadsheet” was a genius, because I use them all the time. Here are mine:
(Note: These worksheets do not have formulas in them. You can add them yourself)
- VERSITILE Creating a spreadsheet with a list of items you want to stock up on takes time, but once you’ve done it, you can use your spreadsheet over and over again. I am always tweaking mine, adding columns, moving rows, changing column headings to make it work for me.
- PAGES I keep two separate pages or sheets in my spreadsheet: one for My Food Storage and one for My Home Storage (non-food items). You can make yours as long or as small as you want.
- CATEGORIES On each page I divide my items into categories, and within those categories I group items to make it easy for me to count them at their location. This way I can take an inventory count of each category any time I want and be quick about it, or I can do all the food items, or all of the home storage items. It is usually very time consuming to count EVERYTHING. Here are my current categories:
Our Food Storage
Beans & Legumes
Beverages & Water
Grains & Dry Pasta
Infants (I don’t need this, but you might)
Our Home Storage
Cleaning & Laundry
First Aid & Meds
Fuel & Light
Paper & Plastic
- LAPTOP, iPad or PAPER While taking inventory, I carry my laptop from place-to-place in the house and type in the number of items I have in stock. It was so easy for me! I have items all over the house, but their location is listed on the spreadsheet so I can easily find them again. I am sure an iPad would work well too. Or just print your spreadsheet and carry it with you on a clipboard. Or if you are still in the paper and pencil world, print the template and keep a paper copy in a binder.
- HIGHLIGHTING As I take the inventory, I pull items that are past expiration to the kitchen. I highlight all items that I could still use beyond expiration date with red so I will use them quickly. I don’t like to throw away food, but when I quickly learn from the experience and change what types of items I store or how much I buy.
- SPREADSHEET EXPLANATION This is an explanation of the columns:
- Need – this column has the number of items I need to purchase. I wanted this first so I can easily see what I need to purchase. Mine has a formula that subtracts what is “on hand” from my “goal,” so what I need to purchase shows up automatically in this first column. I want to see this when I make a shopping list.
- Loc – this column has the location of the item stored. I color coded an abbreviation for each location. I keep the bulk of our storage in our cool basement, but I also have a small supply of everything in my kitchen cupboards.
- Item Description – this column has the name of the item stored. Sometimes I get grandiose ideas of things I want to store, but after a while I learn that the basics usually win out and I remove rows of items that really don’t work for our family like garbanzo beans.
- Size – this column has the container size of the item. It is usually a measurement or in eaches.
- Mo – this column has the number of months I desire to store the item. I only keep a 3 M supply of some items, or 6 M or a 1 Y supply of others. For example, I may only have a 1 month supply of toilet paper, but a year supply of wheat. I choose how much of an item to store based on our finances and storage space.
- Goal – this column has the number of items I hope to store someday.
- Total Have – this is the total amount I have on hand. The spreadsheet ads all the On Hand columns and totals them.
- On Hand/Date – there are several double columns for the items I have on hand. I could add more if needed to. The first group lists the oldest items purchased, the second is newer items, and the third is the most recent purchase. The important thing is to document when I purchased some items. I don’t enter these into the spreadsheet every time I go to the store. That would drive me crazy. But I hung a list on the door of one of my pantries. And pencil in after I go shopping. Because I buy items in groups of 8, 12 or 24, I don’t need many columns. I probably didn’t explain that well, but just look at the spreadsheet. If I don’t know the date I bought the item, I look at the shelf life on the spreadsheet (next column), and subtract that from the expiration date on the box. For instance I have 6 boxes of Special K Granola that has an expiration date of June 2012 and a shelf life of 1 Y, so I guesstimate that I bought it in June 2011.
- Shelf Life – this column has the estimated shelf life of the type of item in its closed status. This is useful to know! Basically I find the shelf life of an item by looking at the best use date on the can or box and the date I purchased the item. It’s really a rough estimate.
- Low Cost & Store – this column has the least expensive price I have purchased this item for and the place I typically buy it. This helps me remember where I purchased the item for a great price. Or if I should wait until the fall, or buy it at a Case Lot (CL) sale. It’s like having a Price Log in my inventory. I love this. Especially when I list what I buy items for at Sam’s Club or Costco.