Frugal Living: how I keep track of my kitchen inventory

United States
June 20, 2022 1:50am CST
Recently, someone asked me how I keep inventory of all I have in my kitchen cupboards and freezer. I told this person that I do things "old school" --paper and pencil. I know that some people might think it's better to do things with the tools that we have available to us on a computer, but for me, there is something that works as I write down things and tally them up. I can take my notebook with me and jot down recipe ideas, or if I need something at a grocery store, I can look at my inventory and discern whether or not I actually need to buy something. Once I use something, I change my inventory list with the pencil and eraser! I know some people think it would be easier to do it online on a spreadsheet. I know others who have developed other systems that work better for them. Whatever your method, keeping an inventory of some kind makes it easier to keep track of what you have and what's needed. How you set it up to make sense to you is what's most important. I set mine up for three areas: Refrigerator, freezer, and pantry. I try to keep them listed categorically for the types of foods they are, i.e. Pastas, beans, baking goods; poultry, meats, seafood, etc etc. Do you have an inventory list? How do you manage your inventory? Can you share any strategies that work best to help other people here? Photo collage is my own. It may be difficult to read, but I hope you get the idea.
15 people like this
15 responses
@LadyDuck (394435)
• Switzerland
20 Jun
This is also what I do, the same as I do my grocery list because nothing is better than paper and pencil to go around and check what you have in the cupboards and what you need to buy. I keep an online database where I write what I consumed, date and quantity. This is only to know how much we need to cover one year of products that are not perishable (pasta, rice, olive oil, vegetable oil, dish soap, toilet paper, washing soap...).
5 people like this
• United States
20 Jun
I am not as organized as you, but I probably should do that with the non-food items, too!
2 people like this
@LadyDuck (394435)
• Switzerland
20 Jun
@TheSojourner I wanted to have an idea how much we needed. I started during Covid lockdown, when they did not allow the "seniors" to go inside the grocery stores. Now I know exactly what we need to cover at least 6 months, just in case.
2 people like this
• United States
20 Jun
@LadyDuck Very smart/wise thinking.
2 people like this
20 Jun
Your style of inventory is pretty similar to mine. I feel more in touch with my inventory by writing them down. Sometimes, I make use of available technology as well. But I guess the responder Anna below's method is more precise. I like the idea of perishable products versus the non-expiry ones. So, in this way we know how to save or cut down on unnecessary items that we use everyday or occasionally.
2 people like this
@SonjaRae (8399)
• United States
20 Jun
This is something that I really admire about peoples ability. Making lists like this or inventories like this I guess would be no different than my to do list at work.
1 person likes this
• United States
20 Jun
I think it is interesting how in one situation something like this would work for me, but in others, not so much.
1 person likes this
@SonjaRae (8399)
• United States
20 Jun
@TheSojourner And you are very conscientious to use a pencil to do your lists. I always end up rewriting lists.
1 person likes this
• United States
20 Jun
@SonjaRae I rewrite them once I've erased a hole in the paper. LOL Maybe once every 4-6 weeks.
1 person likes this
@porwest (53233)
• United States
23 Jun
I do, but my method is much less refined and much less detailed. I simply keep a visual. I have an overstock cabinet I keep in the basement, and usually keep a certain amount of everything in the kitchen pantry, taking items from the overstock to replace them in the pantry as I use them, and then making a shopping list to restock overstock items as needed. It works pretty well for me. I'd be old school like you if I kept a more detailed inventory like yours. Pen and paper please.
1 person likes this
• United States
23 Jun
I don't have the luxury of a basement, so storage is at a premium. I do what I can with my pantry.
1 person likes this
@porwest (53233)
• United States
24 Jun
@TheSojourner That seems pretty neatly organized.
1 person likes this
• United States
24 Jun
@porwest and it's plenty of food to carry me for a while as one person. Oh, and I have 25 lb of pinto beans in a container in my garage. LOL
1 person likes this
• United States
20 Jun
I'm not that organized when it comes to inventory but I do have a list of what's in my chest freezer as it's easy to lose things that fall to the bottom. My list is like yours (paper and pen) and I cross off what we use so we're not doubling up on something if we don't need it. As for my pantry and refrigerator I just look and see what we need
1 person likes this
• United States
20 Jun
I liked what you said, "...as it's easy to lose things that fall to the bottom." That's why an upright freezer is SO much more what I want to get, instead of a chest freezer. LOL But, I suppose that just like my freezer above the refrigerator, the upright freezer would have the same issues of things getting lost at the back of the freezer over time. LOL
1 person likes this
• United States
20 Jun
@TheSojourner I think an upright is more practical even if stuff can get pushed to the back and forgotten. When I was looking for a freezer the uprights were so much more expensive so we went with the chest one. It's in the garage and we keep an inventory by the freezer so when we take stuff out we cross it off the list and when we add stuff we put it on the list. Just makes it easier without having to dig through the freezer to figure out what we have. I also forgot to mention that I make my grocery list on paper and we do our shopping every 2 weeks.
1 person likes this
• United States
20 Jun
@Marilynda1225 I agree about the practicality. Even now, the expense is prohibitive. You can get a small chest freezer still under $200, but I'm finding uprights to be in excess of $700
1 person likes this
@wolfgirl569 (56277)
• Marion, Ohio
20 Jun
I just look through things every other week and tell Alexa what to add to my list
1 person likes this
• United States
20 Jun
How does Alexa help you when you are at the store?
1 person likes this
@wolfgirl569 (56277)
• Marion, Ohio
20 Jun
@TheSojourner I could look at it on my phone. But before going I sit down and write it all out in the order I will pick the stuff up.
1 person likes this
• United States
20 Jun
@wolfgirl569 I understand. So, still resort to pad and pen
1 person likes this
@allen0187 (56149)
• Philippines
20 Jun
Thanks for this idea. I really should start stocking up on food items. I think I'll follow suit and have a list as well on what is in the fridge and what is it the cupboards.
1 person likes this
• United States
20 Jun
It really keeps me on track of what I have first, and what I need. Once I know what I have when I think I don't have anything, I realize just how blessed I am.
1 person likes this
@allen0187 (56149)
• Philippines
22 Jun
@TheSojourner true that. There are a lot of benefits when we keep tabs of what we have and what we need.
1 person likes this
• United States
22 Jun
@allen0187 it really has started making me more aware of the difference between want and need. I also recognize that I I have changed my view of food. I might have said before I need food, and then not purchased more healthy foods, given my nutritional needs. Now I don't say I need food anymore I think that recognizing the need for nutrition is a far better way of looking at it. It's why I don't buy very often pre-made foods. They might have a good sale on them, but it's not always the healthiest options.
1 person likes this
@Adie04 (13114)
20 Jun
I don't know why do I love to see notes like this. Physical notes. Maybe because nowadays we are dealing much with the tech, the physical notes are fading too.
1 person likes this
• United States
20 Jun
I still love a spiral-bound notebook and pencil or pen. I feel the same way about getting letters or cards handwritten in the mail. Sometimes just a note, like a postcard, but I miss those days a lot.
1 person likes this
@Adie04 (13114)
20 Jun
@TheSojourner Me too. Especially those postcards. Nowadays, almost digital.
1 person likes this
• United States
20 Jun
@Adie04 well, if you would ever like to get a postcard from time to time, please let me know. I would be happy to send and receive mail.
1 person likes this
• Rupert, Idaho
20 Jun
Paper and Pen/Pencil would be the best way for me to do it as well...just easier!
1 person likes this
• United States
20 Jun
It just makes so much sense to me.
1 person likes this
• Rupert, Idaho
20 Jun
@TheSojourner I can definitely understand that
1 person likes this
• United States
20 Jun
@MommyOfEli2013 I really do need to head to bed. Have a good one!
@Shavkat (129485)
• Philippines
20 Jun
It is not difficult here because we usually track it weekly.
1 person likes this
• United States
20 Jun
That makes sense.
1 person likes this
@Shavkat (129485)
• Philippines
21 Jun
1 person likes this
@Dreamerby (1653)
20 Jun
My dad uses pen paper. I prefer typing out things.
1 person likes this
• United States
20 Jun
For many things I do type them out, but when it comes to doing the inventory I don't have a place to type it while I'm standing there, so it makes more sense to just hand write it.
1 person likes this
@Dreamerby (1653)
20 Jun
@TheSojourner Yeah that makes sense.
1 person likes this
@paigea (35135)
• Canada
25 Jun
That looks amazing, and like way too much work for me I just jot things down on a shopping list as we get down to the last one. Or, I wait until some things run out completely if they are not often used. I am going to come up with a way to list what is in the big freezer, though. I need to do that before I start freezing stuff from the garden.
1 person likes this
• United States
28 Jun
I find it works for me. And I've actually whittled it down by about a third. As I start to use the things up I'm noticing that the list is getting a little bit smaller.
1 person likes this
@LindaOHio (96051)
• United States
20 Jun
As you know, we have no strategies except, buy!, buy!, buy!
1 person likes this
• United States
20 Jun
Which is why I have to manage it, as I don't have the $$$ to buy!, buy!, buy!!! LOL
1 person likes this
@marlina (146808)
• Canada
20 Jun
No, I don't
1 person likes this
• United States
20 Jun
@jstory07 (120666)
• Roseburg, Oregon
20 Jun
At the end of the month i write down what I am out of and how low some other items might be. There are some items we buy only once a month as a treat and I write all of them down. Sometimes when I make extra money I buy extra of things that are on sale and some months I only need to buy a few things.
1 person likes this
• United States
20 Jun
I have found that, by keeping the inventory, I waste less. Of course, when I can find things on exceptional sales, there are purchases made, and I find a way to supplement, but I don't have to buy so much other things, as there are things I use regularly, so I buy them when a good price and freeze for cooking later (chopping up peppers, onions, celery, carrots, etc.)
1 person likes this