Food Storage Inventory Sheet

Make A Food Storage Inventory Sheet

One problem that developed after I first began storing extra food for preparedness – was inventory control. Actually knowing what we had in food storage. Solution: A Food storage inventory sheet.

Whether it be the variety of store-bought canned food, home canned foods, dry goods like rice-beans-wheat, all of my freezer foods, dehydrated, freeze dried food, etc.., the problem was knowing the big picture, and detail, of what I had on hand.

I figured that making my own food storage inventory sheet would help in a number of ways…

  • First, knowing “what” I had and how much of it.
  • Next, knowing how old it is (when I purchased it) versus its probable shelf life. As a result, this would help with rotation (first in – first out).
  • Also, and important for survival-preparedness, knowing approximately how many calories (survival days) of food I have stored. That’s kind of important in this context!

So here’s what I did:

Food Storage Inventory Sheet

I inventoried what I had. Sounds simple right? Well, that depends if you’re starting an inventory before you already have lots of storage, or, trying to quantify an already “deep storage”…

You can do it the old fashion way with paper and pencil. Or, you might use a spreadsheet (which is what I did). If you already know how to build an Excel spreadsheet (for example), then this will be the way to go, given that it’s so easy to modify, etc.. Otherwise, sharpen that pencil!

Not everyone wants to get into the detail of inventory. However it’s worth the effort to know what you have, especially when you’ve built up a descent size food storage.

UPDATE: I’m re-publishing this article several years after it’s original post. Although I do have several spreadsheets saved on my food storage inventory, I’ve not always kept up with it. And that’s okay… With that said, it’s simply a good idea to once-in-a-while re-establish knowing what you have, even if you don’t meticulously keep up with it.

( Having a food storage inventory also helps with better food rotation. )

One problem was how long it took to initially inventory what we had, and it required some discipline to keep it up to date.

The way I inventoried my food storage was with an Excel spreadsheet.
I also keep a printed hard copy.

I maintain more than one food inventory worksheet. Actually they’re separate tabs (worksheets) on the same overall Excel spreadsheet.

We have the inventory split up into various categories and other areas that make sense for us.

– Chest freezers (beef, pork, chicken, veggies)
– Dry goods such as wheat, rice, beans, etc..
– Canned foods (store bought)
– Home canned foods
– #10 cans of freeze dried & dehydrated foods
– Etc..

– (whatever makes sense based on your foods)

A successful food storage inventory system depends on the way YOU think about it. It’s different for different folks.

Categorize it using the methods that work for you.

For example, within the chest freezer category, we split up the meats by type (Chicken, Beef, Pork, Veggies).

By the way, here’s how we differentiate our meats in the chest freezers using different color tote bags. Makes it quick and easy to reach in and pull out bags. Just pick a color for each type of meat…

Reusable Grocery Tote Bags

For food inventory management at home you don’t need to get crazy specific, but enough to know what you have and how much.

Admittedly I did get crazy specific with some things. Even to the extent of calculating caloric equivalent days based on 2,000 calories per day.

Keep Inventory up-to-date !

After all that work of inventorying, you must keep it up to date.
It just takes a little discipline.

I keep a printed copy too. When something is removed we pencil it out or adjust the quantity on the hard copy. Occasionally we update the spreadsheet itself and print a new copy.

I have also found that when you inventory what you have, you may discover excesses as well as holes. Good to know! (and adjust)

It also helps with visualizing the big picture of your food diversification.

[ Read:

Food Storage List For 1 Year

Food Storage Mistakes To Avoid

Survival Food Most Common In Preppers Deep Pantry Storage


  1. I have a similar spreadsheet with tabs for each storage location, I’ve added either expiration dates or date stored for rotation purposes. I also have inventoried medical, emergency gear, water (with calculation of how long it lasts depending on number of people), stored hand tools and various fasteners. In other words about every thing I may need to use depending on th0e situation. Inventoried by location, even TP and liquid “medicinals”.

    1. I list the BBD, Best By Date, in my spreadsheet and use my oldest stock first. The expiration date, as many others have mentioned, means nothing.

      Also, do not assume food you bought today is NEWER than food you bought last year or even longer. During our supply crisis, I have bought new four year old food. I don’t know where they got it, but the can looked good.

      I’ve made pumpkin bread with 14 year old pumpkin. True, it isn’t as tasty as new, but it wasn’t bad either.

  2. Once I began to ‘accumulate,’ I realized that I needed a tracking system. The first reason was because I wanted to know if I had enough food to last a small family for 3 months…then 6 months. I used a detailed spreadsheet to do that. I kept up w/ that for a few years. Once I had reached my 1-year food storage goal, I cut back. Now I no longer use a spreadsheet for canned and jar goods.

    At this point, I’m only paper-tracking 5-gallon buckets and the #10 cans of FD/DH foods. And I’m ready to stop tracking the #10 cans since they’re all visible on shelves stacked 3-deep and 3-high or in the 6-pack boxes. They’re easy to count. With canned foods and home-canned jars, I can easily see all of them, so I don’t need to track them now. I just look at the ‘bank account’ on the shelves. lol

    The 5-gallon buckets aren’t as easy, but each bucket is labeled. I store about 40 buckets in our lower level, but not in the food storage room (they take up too much space). So I track each item by quantity of buckets and by location. For example, all of the rice buckets are in 1 location, same with wheat. The beans, groats, oatmeal, etc. are stored in separate locations, too, and not intermingled. Keeps me sane.

  3. We need to start tracking our inventory. We did a little organizing a couple of weeks ago and found several things that were no longer useable. I know the best by date is only for freshness but we had cans of tomato paste that sounded like a baby rattle when you shook them. Some time things get pushed back and forgotten.

  4. My food inventory and and methods have changed over the years. At present I work it this way.
    36 buckets fit very well into my storage spaces. So, I have divided up those buckets into categories: meat, fruit, vegetables, bread, dry goods (flour, rice, macaroni), dairy, soups and stews and extras ( instant coffee, maple syrup, baking soda, salt, sugar, cookies.)
    I fill and store 36 buckets at a time according to our regular food consumption.
    Most of our food storage is now freeze dried at home and this has allowed me to keep an accurate picture of just how much I have. For instance, one tray for the FD holds two oranges sliced. Four trays to a load goes into four Mylar bags. Eight Mylar bags to a bucket. Therefore, one bucket holds 16 oranges. Similarly two pounds of meat per bag is sixteen pounds per bucket.
    I can now calculate how many buckets of each type of food I need. The system keeps the food selections balanced.

  5. Another thing that I do is put a label on my 5 gallon buckets (wheat berries, etc..) with the month/year of pack or purchase. That way I’m sure to use the oldest first…

    (yet another use for a Sharpie)

    1. I do that on everything. It does look odd when you donate cans and they have a date of a couple of years old. C’est Dommage.

        1. I just write on the glass, metal or plastic. An alcohol soaked cotton ball strips the ink instantly.

        2. I use 3m blue painters tape. It has so many more uses than taping off trim etc. I also bought several colors of duck tape to use on more permanent items.

        3. That tape is great too! Similar to the green frog tape. Peels off easy.

      1. Put a piece of duct tape on your buckets and write your dates and other notes on that. Easy to remove, or replace as needed

      2. I just mark everything up with a Black Sharpie.
        What the heck, only one that will ever see em is Me and Blue :-)

  6. I have an excel spreadsheet also. I keep it simple. The first column is what the item is and the second is how many. It is all in alphabetical order.
    I keep a clipboard with in and out and have finally trained old man to use it.
    I have my #10 cans listed separately and I also have some bulk food in our studios which are listed as to what building they are in. There is also a separate list for meds and spices. I don’t want to get any more detailed as I have enough trouble updating what I have.
    I believe it is as important as having a food storage otherwise you keep buying what you don’t need and not what you do.

  7. Please let me share my experience with this really great idea. I’m a “list” kind of guy and have created spreadsheets to track all kinds of stuff like books, movies, cupboard contents, grain buckets, freezer contents, tools, medicine… you get the picture.

    I built an Excel spreadsheet to inventory our pantry / freezers and track all the stuff we were canning. It took me a couple hours to set it up and a couple days for us to inventory everything and refine the format. It works really well… in theory and it worked really well for about three or four months… until the new wore off. It doesn’t work very well in practice unless you have a whole lot of time on your hands or you live alone, or you implement some kind of barcode computer system or you are a really disciplined person. Ours started off nicely and everybody was on board, wife, me, children until… until…
    1. We started using items and forgot to check them off the list.
    2. We were in the middle of a heavy canning season and had to re-arrange everything in order to make room for the new stuff, (multiple times during the season) and had to stop everything to update the spreadsheet since we have at least 5 different distinct areas (cabinets, wire shelves), and three different freezers in the pantry room and back porch where we store stuff and grain buckets stored in various closets all over the house.
    3. The power goes out for 6 weeks after a hurricane and you have to triage things in the freezers in order to use it/give it away or save it, or a freezer conks out and we have to spread stuff around two other freezers and can a bunch of stuff to keep from losing it.
    4. One or two of us finally gets aggravated at trying to keep track of things with a list and rebelled. Like… “I’m tired of this nonsense, I’m not going to be enslaved by lists and I’m not a grocery store stock boy and I will not check off stuff every time I cook a meal”. So… the whole family more or less rebelled.
    5. I’ve always been a fairly disciplined person, or so I thought. Until I started trying to keep track of our food preps and realized that in order for it to work everyone has to be on board or I had to treat everybody in the house like they were in boot camp. It’s like herding cats. I couldn’t do that… it doesn’t work.

    Our cupboard inventory spreadsheet worked well for 3-4 months and lasted about a year and then it was abandoned.

    I mean, it really is a good idea the first time around in order to get a picture of the magnitude of what you have but keeping it updated is something else entirely. It’s an accounting nightmare. I’m not trying to discourage anyone from this but letting you know what’s in store. Good luck to all with this endeavor. Just saying.

    1. It’s just the two of us so it’s fairly easy.
      Mrs.J is into it so that’s good for me – I don’t have to do it ;)

      I do agree that a great benefit is the initial realization of what you actually do have on hand (or may need to get).

    2. @ CrabbeNebulae, I had the same problem for awhile. So I changed a few things. First we have a pantry in the kitchen. It’s not a big pantry so it’s not really worth it to try and inventory what is in there. We have our main storage downstairs in the basement. This is the food I have on spreadsheets. In the past when we used up an item in our working pantry, I would go downstairs and grab another. Now I only go downstairs once a week to go (shopping) in our pantry. It helps if you have a menu for the week so you know what you will be needing. Once in a while I find that I will run out of something in the middle of the week, but those trips are getting rarer.

    3. @ Ken, Peanut Gallery
      Thanks. I did pretty much what Ken did with the exception of caloric content. I printed off the spreadsheet and hung it by the door in the dining room on a clip board for everyone to use and check off items as they were used. It worked at first and then the list became something demonic… like something that controlled what the wife and children did when they got hungry and ate something they had to check with the list… :) In the end it simply did not work. :( More than once, DW and children scolded me about acting like some kind of police man or military drill sergeant so I backed off and let it be. I was working 10-12 hour days at the time and we had to take care of a 1 acre garden plus several smaller beds in the yard and keep 12 acres clean as well. The total chaos of a big canning season, or a hurricane knocking out power for 6 weeks, or uncooperative family members made it impossible to keep the list current. Between that and the idea that family members are family members, not grocery store or warehouse employees or recruits in boot camp who could be brow beat into doing something, the list was finally abandoned.

      The initial list was really an eye opener though. In the end, it simply didn’t work.

    4. CrabbeNebulae-I’m impressed that you lasted a year, my spreadsheet didn’t last a month LOL. I’m a list person but realized that trying to do spreadsheets of my deep pantry just wasn’t working. Instead I keep things in a certain place and just eyeball inventory/make note when an area starts to get low. I don’t have a lot built up yet so that does make things easier to keep track of as well.

  8. Our household is blessed because we live on a very narrow and, some would say, boring diet. This reduces our storage selection by an estimated 75%. There are two main benefits from this; easier to inventory and an easier adjustment to limited diets once the crap hits the fan. Other benefits include a simpler caloric calculation, health effects of certain foods, fewer cookbooks … even a caveman can prepare our meals. :) But not for everyone until the troubles hit – could be a hard adjustment to make to a bland diet for some.

    1. hermit us
      I had freeze dried instant coffee, several yrs past “best by date”. Tasted fine to me. I bought a new one, and compared the two “tastes”. Could not tell the difference.

      1. Anon
        Thanks – this coffee thing just came to mind as I was listening to Alas Babylon again. This is the only stimulant I use, so it would be nice to have it on hand.

        1. hermit us
          I have also bought hard/individually wrapped candy which had a fairly high coffee/caffeine rating. Got them on super clearance at some grocery store. Imagine they would last forever. Tasted ok, but did not enjoy them nearly as much as a cup of hot coffee.

    2. hermit us
      Coffee in metal cans holds longer than plastic tubs they dump on us now. Actually I have both metal & plastic cans of coffee, some going back to 2013-14(possible 2012), as dh can no long drink coffee by the gallons. Coffee is still good, we use Costco-yban-peets-along with other higher end ground coffee.
      Best is green coffee beans you roast but we have coffee beans stored away for the ‘whatever’.

      1. AC
        I was thinking of whole beans but I do not have a hand crank grinder so I would have to resort to using my hammer. For us, the freeze dried instant may make the most sense.

        1. hermit us
          well… could always save some beans, and just a)dip them in chocolate and then chew b)just chew them. Have heard of folks doing both.

        2. hermit us
          They do make hand held electric grinders, and hand grinders for coffee.
          We also have freeze dried coffee, it is in the emergency totes. Fake creamer is vacuum sealed with the sugar JIC. Some coffee does not require a cup to hold it…lol

    3. I agree with Anon, we also had some freeze fried instant coffee. We had that jar maybe ten years. It tasted fine.

    4. hermit,
      Best bet is to vac pac green coffee beans if you can get them, store them in a cool dry area. We have a coffee shop in town that told me to store green beans instead of roasted as the oils in the roasted beans will turn rancid after about a year. She told me if packed and stored properly 3-5 years on the beans. As for “instant” coffee, Taster’s Choice is the only company I’ve seen that advertises they freeze dry the coffee to make their “instant” coffee. It does comes in glass jars so you’ll have to be careful when storing on shelves.. I have a jar that was about a year old when I opened it. Didn’t taste any difference but I “pollute” my coffee (cream & sugar), DH said it tasted fine not stale at all. He only drinks it straight, no fru fru sugar or fancy creams for him.
      As for chocolate, vac pac and put in the freezer. I’ve not had chocolate go”bad” doing it that way but I only have done Easter, Halloween and Christmas candy for the past 4 years. Took advantage of end of holiday sales for my “stash” ;).
      Knock wood, we’re all still here and the grands have NOT gotten sick from eating year old chocolate but DON’T tell DIL#2 that she thinks if it says expired by such and such date it is poisonous to consume. I’m slowly convincing her that those dates are the manufacturers way to c0ver their A’s not that the foods go bad immediately. She’s getting better about that, LOL

      1. grannyo
        Thanks for the information. Better not show DIL#2 your lists with dates.

        1. What list’s? (HA HA). I have to start my list over as I’ve had to “resupply”. Freezer is almost re stocked. I have to re sort the canned goods and cull out the ones that are rusting. Didn’t think when that stupid laundry rooms pipes broke (4 times) and spewed water all over, the cans had been showered as much as I’m finding out..Thought I got all the cans that got wet but evidently I didn’t do as good a job as I thought. Oh well as my kid says You’re retired,Mom. You gotta keep busy with something, LOL

    5. Instant espresso comes vacuum sealed in glass jars. I use it in baking, camping, and when I don’t need to make a whole pot of coffee.

  9. I use Excel for my tracking also; tis very easy to set one up with Tabs (as Ken mentioned) for each location.

    I print out one every now and again when I get a little time to update Excel, other than that I keep a hard copy handy to record uses and adds, also if I add a new item or ten.

    My sheet has just 5 columns, so it’s very easy to update ALL THE TIME.
    1. Item Name, (Kokuho Rose Rice)
    2. Number I have, (5)
    3. Number I would like to have, (10)
    4. Manufacturer, (Kokuho)
    5. Size of container, (5 # in Mylar)

    Also set up a tab for each location aka, under house, garage, BOL, that sort of thing. Don’t forget a separate Tab for Ammo.

    Also keep the items alphabetical, Excel will allow you to sort via column so this is easy when you add something.

    One of the biggest reasons, besides the obvious, is for Insurance. Say you have a devastating fire; can you remember all the items in the Deep Pantry so you can claim them on a claim? Remember to keep a copy in the fire-proof safe.

    Don’t forget to store Water……..

    Lastly, remember, “Store what you Eat, and Eat what you Store”, and “Use one, buy Two till you have your limit matched”, do these two things and in no time you’ll have a very nice little stash in the Deep Pantry that very well may save you and your families lives. Remember Venezuela, and the Very efficient FEMA (five days to get water to the Super Dome, Really?).

  10. Sorry if I missed it, but has anyone addressed water? I don’t think any of that other stuff will be much value without it. I discovered a couple years ago that any sunlight that gets through to the water will encourage microbial growth. Example… I had six water barrels, 4 had opaque tops, and 2 had the translucent milk jug type plastic for a top. Those two had a hefty scum layer of algae and God knows what else.

    Now I treat with a bit of bleach and try to prevent all sunlight exposure. The question that remains is, how often should that water be changed? Is it OK not to ever change it; then just filter the crap out of it at point of use? I’ve got barrels and IBC’s all over. Inside, outside, in the garage and even underground… (long story, sewer issue, had the whole backyard dug up at one point).

    On itemizing and rotating dry goods, I just re-did everything, checking dates as I went. Very simple FIFO Right to Left, pull from the left. Sharpie pens are great, no extra labels;. just month/year. I’ve never used Mylar bags or O2 absorbers, neither have been missed. Bulk purchases get divided up into 500g and 1kg portions, then vacuum sealed as-is. Never had a problem.

    Proportion wise, I really bulked up on the FD stuff over the past year or so. I’ve only tried a couple of them; but it was good. As for cooking, we’ve got about five different ways to cook if utilities are down, that does not involve wood. One thing I’ve never seen mentioned here is a single burner butane stove. These are found primarily at Asian supermarkets. They have a blow molded plastic case. Typically they are about $20, but I saw some recently marked down to $9.99! The gas is available for about $1.70 a can; again sales can bring that down to .99 cents. Oh gosh they work great! Perfect burner, fine control. piezo ignition. And unlike a lot of Chinese made goods, these seem to last forever.

  11. Peanut Gallery;
    As per your paranoid tendencies about computers and their being hacked. I agree 1000% that if a computer is connected to the net in any way, ALL of your stuff is “out there” for anyone to hack, including your illustrious .gov. Same with your Phone, Mail, E-mail, even that credit app you filled out for that new car.

    A little hint, NEVER keep anything on a net-linked computer you would not post in the Newspaper. Keep a separate computer (laptop) for important documents/list/wills/photos/etc. Also never NEVER us online banking, you’re just asking for trouble.

    1. I’m beginning to question the idea of anything being “offline.” I have a computer that’s been “offline” for about 10 years. The modem no longer works and I haven’t been able to even find any nearby networks for that long. However, it updates the clocks twice a year, without fail, and the way the daylight savings time rules change all the time it shouldn’t be able to do that.

      1. Lauren
        that sounds interesting…But…just wondering…mightn’t the “clock” thing be an internal hardware programing automatic “thing”?

        1. It might be, but the change to a March date for daylight lost just happened a year or two ago. It certainly didn’t go back ten years. Somehow it keeps up with the changes in spite of not being “connected.”

      2. @Lauren
        Don’t fret….your clock is being updated by the chip that’s installed on a motherboard. (It’s called a Real Time Clock) It will work until your CMOS battery kicks the bucket. At that point, time will stand still. lol

    2. NRP-why are you against online banking? We do Dave Ramsey’s envelope system but instead of having paper envelopes we have sub-savings accounts that we use as our ‘envelopes’. Direct deposit paycheck is set up to automatically disperse into all of the accounts on payday and then most of our recurring bills are set up to automatically come out of their designated envelope accounts. We’ve done online banking for years now, and our current system for a couple years. No issues and it’s worked really well/made our budget run smoothly.

      1. svzee;
        I’m willing to bet you 10 rolls of TP that the “Dave Ramsey’s system” is set up with a lot more security that the common household computer system that ‘may’ be running Norton Security.

        These sub-savings accounts are normally setup in the same “bank” as all of the master accounts with totally secured accounts within the same depository system. Same with the recurring bills that are debited against their ‘envelops’, again 99% in-house systems, not transmitted over the net from a fairly unsecured household PC.

        Even the number of HUGE account holding Banks and Credit establishments that are falling subject to hacking and fraud is mind boggling.

        I’m probably more unwilling to put my accounts online and accost the net then most because of my background as a Progreaaure, Progerumir, Prmugumar, Code-Writer hehehe
        Systems are just wayyyyy to easy to hack.
        Ok, back on subject before Ken yells at me again……

  12. Peanut Gallery
    We have a XP we just took off line, which has spread sheet capability in the system. My problem is the patience to put all that into the sheet for print out. As my time can be limited, during parts of the year. Only down time for me is rainy days when I am in the house like today.

    If you have an older unit with the spread sheet availability that might be the way to due an inventory for your goods.

  13. Exactly Peanut I agree. I pay for Micro office online and do not want a spread sheet in the cloud.

  14. The freeze drying is accumulating so I too am working on a tally system. It has been driving Mr. crazy, but hey I ain’t no adjacent to be bossed to hard!!! LOL Colored buckets ie red for meats and colored tape for white buckets. There is an old order form from the back of a stamp catalog that I refine and use for several projects. A little bit of white out to change a line or two slap it in the copier, pen or pencil. Good to go. Old time written style no electric needed.

  15. I have a spreadsheet for my long term storage. I found it too time consuming to keep track of my short term storage, but I try to go through it periodically to see what is about to expire (or already expired.) Today I opened a can of mandarin oranges that expired in 2016 and they are fine. I probably have 6-9 months worth of short term canned and dry goods and at least 9 months of cat food, kitty litter and litter liners.

    My long term storage has 11 Excel columns —
    a) the first column is numbered from 1-217 so that I can get back to my original order after I have sorted (a really GOOD idea in case you make a mistake sorting and wind up scrambling some of the other columns.)
    b) Category (i.e. beans, pasta, veggies, dairy, entrees)
    c) Brand
    d) Item ( i.e. beef stroganoff, quick oats)
    e) Size package
    f) Calories per serving
    g) Servings per package
    h) Calories per package
    I) Number of packages
    j) Total calories
    k) Expiration date

    I currently show 632,479 calories in long term storage but that doesn’t include several items that don’t have calories listed on the package. More than a year, plus short term storage, plus my garden, minus what I would have to share with my cats if their food runs out.

  16. Wayyyyyy off subject;
    But sort of pertinent for security of your Inventory List.
    I have had a “new” meter” set on the house for Grid Power (quite a few years back), the installer explained they no longer need to physically “read” the meters, they now use an “off frequency” signal to remotely read the meter from the central office…..
    If they can read the meter remotely, can “they” get into your computer through the grid connected power?????? Remember they CAN turn on your cameras on your Smart Phone & Dumb Phone, AND record voice in the same phone….. even if it’s “turned off”
    Conspiracy nut here ????? or just fun facts???? HAHAHAHA

    1. Makes sense to me, but then I keep running out of tin foil. I suppose that set up correctly they could probably connect with (and download/upload to) any device within range.

        1. Short version? You mean the multi-billion dollar facility that the state allows to use 1 million + gallons of water per day to cool the stupid computers? A few of those billions could have gone into creating a recycling system, but no, all that water is used once and then goes straight down the drain. WE’RE IN A DESERT! You mean that facility?

          The one that was supposed to bring all these jobs into the state, but they brought in all their own people, and even a plumber to fix a leak has to have top security clearance? The facility that thumbed its nose at congress when told to cease and desist and didn’t get so much as a wrist-slap? No decrease in activity, no reduction in personnel, so guess what? I seriously doubt that they stopped their activities.

          I should really blame the state. The state gov’t offered them free electricity, free water, because the state wanted the facility HERE and were willing to give the Feds whatever they wanted. Then they hike prices to the consumer for both (electricity and water) and penalize people for using to much of our “precious” natural resources. Hypocrites and idiots.

        2. And they’re in the middle of the @)$*#*&% process of bringing in even more computer facilities that will use more water and more electricity and it’s SOOOO GOOOOD for the state, and they flatly ignore those who don’t want it.

          Didn’t they learn their lesson the first time? Or the second? Or the third?

        3. Oh, and the NSA’s “tagline” on their website? “If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear.” I’ll stop there.

  17. I have the cloth bags for the freezer food. Hadn’t thought about color coordinating them. Good idea!
    Several years ago I did a spreadsheet and like others mentioned I was good with it for awhile and then gave up. I do need to do something about having a list as to where stuff is now stored as I have things stuffed in various places. I don’t have the room that I used to to centralize everything. Doesn’t help that I also have my small freezer in the tiny bedroom that became the pantry.

  18. NH Michael;
    I believe that is exactly why most of us using a Spreadsheet always print a copy for just an event, of course if an EMP hit, I doubt if I would be to worried on the updating of the sheet, more like using it to plan for the next few months/years dinner.

  19. I use an Excel workbook as well. Like many others, I only inventory what is in storage – not what is in the kitchen. I also write down addition or subtractions on the hard copy and periodically print out a new one. I list location as a note. I use the tabbed worksheets for different categories of inventoried items like health and sanitation, light and heat, home canned food, store bought food, etc. I also have a snapshot worksheet that gives me interesting data like how many Mason jars I have and how many replacement lids for regular and widemouth versus the number of jars. It tells me what percentage of calories is coming from proteins, rice and beans, beverages, condiments, etc. Right now, I have 9.18 months of food for 2 people at 2000 calories per day. I have 447 Mason jars and need to purchase 87 lids to have a complete set of new. If I am burning 2 oil lamps for three hours every night, I have 4.6 months of lamp oil. IMHO, this data is the real advantage of a tool like Excel. It really helps me prioritize what supplies I should be concentrating on.

    1. MICO,

      Wow, your spreadsheet is much more detailed than mine. I am going to start learning how to can after this summer’s harvest, so I am keeping your suggestions for my bigger and better spreadsheet next fall.

      1. Daisy, my columns are just like yours for store bought food. My home canned page has columns for item, reg quart, wm quart, reg pint, wm pint, half pint, total ounces, calories per ounce, and total calories. That way I can enter how many quarts and pints of stewed tomatoes I have or how many pints and half pints of plum jam. The bottom row sums how many of each kind of jar. There’s also a row for “empties’.

        Once all of the data is there, it’s really easy to make Excel mine the data for useful information, like adding up all of the calories from beans and dividing it by total calories to get a percentage.

        Good luck with learning to can this summer! I am really excited for you. Learning to preserve food changed my life.

        1. For vacuum sealed dehydrated things in jars, I weigh them before sealing and add it up in the total ounces column.

  20. Bill Jenkins,

    You are right. More people mean more waste — especially if some household members are not immediate family.

    Spreadsheets are good for figuring, but of course I print mine out every time there is a substantial change. If just one or two items are used, I can cross them out by hand, or if one additional item is purchased, I can add it at the bottom. But eventually, I do sort it again and print it again. Sometimes I sort several ways — by package (#10 can, #2 1/2 can, pouch, etc.) by category of food, by expiration date, etc. Then I print out all the sheets.

    1. DaisyK,
      We have kept records of what we have used over the last year with everyone here.
      We figure out what we have actually used and added another 25% as insurance.
      We use alot of flour from bread and regular baking. Now the moms want to make homemade pasta because we go through alot of that as well.
      So we buy flour in 50 pound bags. Twenty at a time.
      It’s alot to keep all of thrse supplies checked and ordered …

      1. @BillJenkinsHorse
        I go through quite a bit of wheat berries. Not doing much baking for sweets any longer, trying to reduce down to more simple cooking a bit more. When I was baking more, I’d buy organic flour at 50lb at a time. I have stored flour and used it after being approx 2 years old and could tell no difference in taste or in baking behavior.

        We are now eating through our stored pasta — intentionally. Once it’s gone, I’ll be making homemade pasta from here on. We have given up trying to buy more than 1 or 2 boxes of elbow macaroni because the boxes seem to always have tiny bugs. The supermarket is a high-end place, too, and the macaroni isn’t a generic brand. So we’re done w/ the macaroni. As soon as we eat through store-bought rotini and spaghetti noodles that are stored, I’ll be making all the pasta from scratch. And I’m not even going to pretend that I’ll attempt making macaroni! I’m going with long noodles that can be dry-racked or made fresh. If I can conquer that skill, then I’ll try my hand at manicotti shells. I’m actually looking forward to homemade pasta!

        1. MT
          My mom was great at making pasta from scratch, me not so much…lol

  21. I have been a paper and pencil guy on my inventory for a few years and it works well for me . We can do a physical inventory in fairly short time. We visit what we call our “deep storage” every other month and keep tabs on things and for our more “everyday use” we keep more of a running inventory as we use product . We also keep a close count of our home grown/canned foods so we know how much of what crops to plant each year.
    We will be increasing our water storage to about 5 weeks of potable water soon. We will add more capacity as $$ permits.

  22. We use the eyeball method. We see what we got and buy what we don’t got.
    Ha-ha! We no longer use that method nor the computer-based system. We have a very accurate method that is pencil & paper-based. It involves that plus the useage of grocery slips, but that is beyond the scope of this topic.

  23. This is something I really need to do, I have a partial list but most of it is in my head ( probably not the best place since I am getting older haha).
    We have one computer that is offline that would work great for that, just a matter of sitting down and doing it.

  24. I keep excel spreadsheet with tabs for different sorts of food (grains, sugars, oils, canned and home canned, etc). I no longer keep track of spices but as one is brought into use a replacement is purchased next trip for groceries so levels in storage remain where I want. Same for the other items – one used, one bought. So I don’t count what is in use in the kitchen pantry. Keep the name of the spreadsheet innocuous (sewing charts or planting roses). Inventory is actually performed once a year, but I do check on supplies as things are rotated out. Print out hard copy.

    Freezer is tougher as the spacing is slammed together. I like to keep things well wrapped and in cut down vinegar boxes to help organize and make it easier to get to what I want.

    I do not often replace my water – but I want plenty on hand. Worse case scenario, I would have to filter what has already been filtered, but I would have it. Have not found anything growing in it yet. I like multiple sources. I really like the 5 gal white containers that EE sells at a reasonable cost. I often wait till they go further on sale. Actually most food purchases whether FD or whatever, are purchased on sale.

  25. NH Michael
    You’re not a Luddite if you’re using a Sharpie.

    You need a quill and a bottle of ink to mark your items. That’s what I use. ;-)

  26. I recently bought two upright freezers for everyday use one is meat and the other is veggies, desserts, juices and bones(these would normally go into the deep chests…but those got emptied first for defrosting and next readied for the BIG slaughter of turkeys (we ended up growing twice as many this year). The deep chests work great for JUST birds…Even though I tried Ken’s multi colored bag system….it was too much aggravation to sort through to the bottom of the chests!
    The uprights allow me to sort by shelves and I can readily see exactly what is in there. AND the added benefit was in cleaning out the chests, I DID find some older items that got relegated to dog food processing.
    We started our deep pantry back in 08…mostly because town was too dang far for ordinary items…but also to start with long term items. Now, we actually use some of the older supplies in every day cooking, just to rotate appropriately. I try to train DH to write it on a list if taking next to last item on shelf…but safer to do twice a year inventory. LOL

  27. Put refried beans on the short list, they dont keep, 2015 no good
    Hee heee, but then again thats wayyyy past the expiration
    Didnt smell, just looked off

  28. We do not suffer “food Fatigue” so the list is very narrow. The limiting factor is that all the storage areas are filled mainly with freeze dried foods in cans, pails, and Mylar bags. These can be supplemented with whatever the season brings. Can’t be fussy when survival is on the line.

    1. Same here, we could get by with rice, soy sauce, olive oil, red wine vinegar and spam, everything else i can grow or catch, not real picky

  29. our biggest problem now is where to put it all. we have run out of room in our small house, cluttered is putting it mildly. we are going to have to do something, it’s starting to look like one of those hoarders houses. i’ll figure something out. root cellars just won’t work in our area due to climate and drainage unless the’re built into a hillside. maybe i need to invest in some more plastic barrels and rent a track hoe.

    1. Buy an older RV that looks in bad shape but has a good roof and is secure. There are many on properties all over, without wheels so they can not be towed. Hide stuff almost in plain sight.

      1. hermit us,
        a good idea but in our area you could put food in an oven at 200 deg and it would store just as well.
        i really want a con-ex box to store non perishables in, bags, jars and such, that would make more room in my barns and the house. one day, maybe. those old RV’s leak like sieves. 20 foot con-ex boxes go for 2500 here now delivered. we are not far from the coast. it would be impossible for anyone to see it from a road unless they just came to our house and it would be placed behind a barn. i have a plan, i just need the time and energy. it get’s harder everyday. always one more thing to do.

        1. if i was to just move the books out of the house that would go a long way. a con-ex box is fireproof.

  30. On the topic of labeling and inventory of goods from prior observations and experience establishing caches in back country cabins for use by snow survey parties: Location Southern Sierra Nevada mountains in 1980’s California. Storage temps could swing wildly within the cabins from below freezing to room temp when the cabin was occupied. When cabin was heated, it could also become quite humid within the cabin/food storage area.
    Under these conditions, the labels can fall off cans and adhesive can become brittle so cans were labelled on top with contents using a sharpie and legible handwriting. Date of purchase or placement in cache was printed on bottom of cans.
    Packaged food items not in cans were stored within a steel 50 gallon barrel with tight fitting lid that was held in place by a rim sealer tightened with a screwdriver and an adjustable wrench. (these were Mil Surp barrels with lids and seals – Govt agency. These were bear resistant in addition to being rodent proof). If all you have to worry about is rodents, a metal garbage can with tight fitting lid held in place with baling wire will work too. This is where we kept: pasta, pasta mixes like mac and cheese, sugar cookies in cellophane wrappers etc. The best labelling material that withstands the test of time has been: white masking tape from the hardware store. I keep a roll of this around along with sharpies and gel-ink pens to put labels on things that are dark in color. I use block-letter printing (taught to write that way driving ambulance and in police academies) because what I write must be read by others at a later time and date.

  31. Establishment of food caches within a city was done at an old, inexpensive yet old fashioned storage unit where I used and followed the same principles as was done in back-country cabins: sharpies used to write contents on top of can and date on the bottom. Dry packaged goods are kept within a metal, rodent-proof container. My off-grid spreadsheet was a legal pad where I wrote my notes in block-printing. If I made updates, I could go to a copy-shop and modify my notes there. My notes could be stored at the cache by ripping out a page and placing the paper copies within a gallon sized ziplock bag to protect against high humidity. This was what I did during my apartment dwelling days in both LA and San Jose, CA.
    I am still working so I tend to go out and buy a bunch of canned food that I like to eat and keep a good supply in event of earthquakes, ice storms, etc. I am busy enough, I do not yet can my food or produce. So, My low-tech inventory plan uses: legal pads, zip-lock bags, sharpie permanent markers, gel-ink pens and masking tape in white. My masking tape labels have withstood the test of time as has the gel-ink pens and the sharpies. (high-temp storage, low temp storage and varying rates of humidity). i have tried other label material and had the adhesive fail. (not good when you are facing a small pile of cans with all the labels in the ground).

  32. – My own system is basically the same as Cali’s. I have a bunch of address labels left over on partial sheets of printed labels. Learned the hard way they will dry out and fall off, or come unstuck in wet weather, etc. I have to agree with him that it is exciting to face a closet-full of unlabeled cans in a pinch, when a sharpie note that says ‘corn, 9/20’ would have saved the day.

    – Papa S.

  33. I bought Avery File Folder labels and printed years on them 2022-20xx and the word expired. They stick really well except on soup cans, so there is the sharpie or clear tape to keep them on. I used them to put the manufacturers use by dates on all my items so I can sort them easily and do a visual for what needs to go first. I also researched how long things will last when vacuum sealed and added that to my excel inventory. I will add calories next, great idea.

    1. Fishermans Wife
      Regarding the storage of food items which are vacuum sealed. Do not wish you or anyone else to make the mistakes I have only to discover those items become chicken feed. Great if you have chickens or can give it to your neighbors to feed their poultry.
      If you use vacuum seal bags for dehydrated vegetables make sure they are used within the time limit. Believe that is between 6 months to a year, if placed in those bags.
      What did to bypass this time limit, glass canning jars? After the food is dehydrated and cool, I place the food into glass canning jars. Those jars then receive a used canning lid and are then placed into the vacuum seal bags (used-hopefully) to be sealed. Do not forget to measure the wet amount and then the dried amount so you know how much you require.
      Why? It extends the life of such foods. If the food is in glass jars with lids my thought, it is process similar to canning. I date the bags so that I know which is to be used first for soups, stews.
      Have not challenged the thought process it cannot be rehydrated to be eaten as if it were a vegetable for the dinner table. When I do will let everyone know how it turned out for taste, and texture.

    2. – Fishermans Wife,
      Just FWIW, mine were Avery labels that dried out and fell off.

      – Papa

  34. Ken J.
    amusing this is presented to day, I just started my semi-annual inventory cross-check and physical inspect of stored food items. Appreciate
    your work and all the great ideas that you bring forward. My list is built on three items per page (landscape format) with 6 lines each for entries, with item, brand, weight, date of purchase, best by date and project shelf life date. This is mostly for the rotated canned foods stock, mixes etc. Very long term is simply inspected by opening buckets and making a visual inspection of mylar bag integrity and condition.
    This is the same format I use for all of my preps, medical and first aid stores, hardware and tool stores lighting, fire and power goods supplies etc, etc. etc.

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