Once you’ve started to accumulate a healthy food supply, it’s easy to get disorganized. Especially if you are working with minimal space, you may find yourself storing your stockpile in a variety of locations where you cannot easily check expiration dates or rotate stock. It’s incredibly important that you maintain an inventory system that allows you to keep usable food on-hand. Otherwise, what’s the point?
Depending on how far you are into Prepping, getting organized may be a large undertaking. Set aside time to complete this project so that you can Prep effectively.
Shelves Are Ideal
If you’re storing food in bins, you do have more options on where to keep them, but your inventory process will be significantly more difficult. Open shelves are the best option for food storage, where you can easily reach to rotate and clearly see to inventory. You’ll want to keep shelving in a cool place near the kitchen when possible. This keeps the food good for as long as possible and allows you to use the front items in recipes.
You can build your own shelves or purchase them from any home improvement or warehouse store.
Embrace Your Inner Nerd
Be very methodical when organizing your stockpile. Put like with like, and arrange items to be near others that you use together in recipes. When you buy new items, always take the time to place them in the back of the row, sliding the rest of the row forward. The soonest expiration date should always be in the front. By investing a few minutes each time you restock, you will save yourself a lot of frustration later.
Keep Inventory: Spreadsheets are Best
A simple spreadsheet will allow you to keep an accurate inventory of every item you have in stock, as well as the closest expiration date that you previously had on-hand. A spreadsheet can save you a lot of time over using pen and paper. You can easily move rows to reflect the current organization of your shelving, and quickly update numbers with no confusion.
You can highlight the cell of an upcoming expiration date to ensure that you use or discard the item prior to it going bad. When you print the spreadsheet out, you can write directly on it to update your numbers, saving yourself a few trips to the computer. Each time you add to the shelves, update the list.
If you tend to go through certain items more quickly than others, pay attention and adjust your shopping lists. The same goes for if you keep ending up with an overabundance of other items. You don’t want to end up trying to use or donating one item frequently; it’s just not a good use of your money.
Each time the seasons change, set aside an afternoon to confirm your inventory is in good shape. If something hasn’t been on sale in a while, you may have let it run low. An expired item may have gotten lost in the shuffle and left on the shelf. Quarterly inventory assessments only take a few hours at most, and can keep you in check.
Rotating your stock is not a glamorous chore, but it’s a necessary job. By maintaining an organized approach, you can cut down on the time spent on the task. The last thing you want is to face an emergency situation and find yourself without the essentials, or with a stockpile full of expired foods.