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
– (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…
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.