Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Storage organization and inventory

Even if all you do is stock up to have a full pantry, organization's critical, as well as knowing what you have.  That oddball jar of capers will never see the light of day if you a) forget about it and b) it migrates to the back of your food storage/pantry.

Until just recently I had no idea what all I had stocked up on as a consequence of not having kept a running inventory. When I moved some things around in the house to organize part of the stuff, I found that I actually had a good selection of things in some areas, but am short in others. That got me to thinking about keeping an inventory, which I then started in on, and then reasons why it would be useful.

First, it helps you track what you have in terms of quantity. Writing down that you have X amount of Y foodstuff helps you get an idea how close you are to your goal for that item, especially if you have multiple locations where you store things, such as house and outbuilding.

Second, you can more easily see where you have holes in your foodstuffs or other preps. It's one thing to look at all the cans/buckets/containers you have and think 'gee, we have a lot of stuff', but harder to see you have inadvertently overlooked enough fruit and veg, for example, if you have to juggle it all in your mind. Putting it in an Excel [or Open Office equivalent] spreadsheet allows you to categorize and describe and make notes that you can't easily do off the top of your head. If you discover that certain items would fill out what you have better, I think it's also easier to see that in an inventory you've written down rather than have to try to do it based on memory.

Third, you can easily modify needed quantities on a written inventory and make a list of everything you have to add if, for example, you find you need to prep for more people than you originally planned for.

Fourth, if you choose to add things like expiration dates and when an item is used over a month or whatever seems like an appropriate interval, you can track how much of X you actually use during Y time interval to adjust how much or how many of X you need, as well as see what needs to be used more frequently or purchased less often. If you also add information as to, say, when you purchased X on sale and note that X is on sale in your area every 6 weeks, you can time your next purchase and save by purchasing on sale.

Fifth, it adds a little peace of mind to see it all laid out and see how organized you are.

So, if you have been putting off making a thorough inventory, you might want to reconsider and get to it as soon as possible. You have nothing to lose except a bit of time, and everything to gain in terms of tracking use, quantity, quality, and content of your stored items.