One problem that quickly developed when (and after) I first began storing extra food for preparedness – was inventory control.
Be it the variety of canned food, dry food, long term food storage, freezer food, dehydrated food, purpose-bought food storage kits — the problem was knowing what I had, and how much I had on hand. It became difficult to know where I stood, and what I might still need.
Here’s what I did:
I began to inventory what I had. Sounds simple right?
Problem is that it’s a pain (time consuming) to initially inventory what you have, and it requires some discipline to keep it up to date.
While not everyone wants to get into such detail, I believe it’s worth the effort to know what you have, which helps to discover whether or not it’s adequate – and helps you to better eat and rotate the food that you have.
Even a minimal effort will reward you with information about what you have.
You may be surprised that you don’t have as much as you think you do (when it comes to the estimated number of days sustainability), and you may be surprised to discover major areas where you are lacking.
A good food storage plan includes a wide variety and balance of food types and nutrition.
The way I inventoried my food storage was (is) with a computer spreadsheet – only because I’m proficient with it and therefore a logical choice for me. I always keep a printed hard copy (can’t always rely on computers).
I actually have more than one inventory worksheet. I keep a separate food inventory list for my chest freezer because it’s easy to forget what’s down there near the bottom 😉
A successful food storage inventory system depends on the way YOU think about it (different for different folks) and the way YOU use it. For me, it’s all about categories – and then subsets within categories.
For example, for freezer foods I will sort them based on their categories like Veggies, Soups, Fruits, Chicken, Beef, Pork, Turkey, etc. Then I break each category down into specifics – like the Veggies will subset to simply the number of freeze packs of broccoli, veggie blends, corn, etc. I don’t get all specific, but instead just list the number of items.
I keep a printed copy next to the freezer and whenever anything is taken out, with a pencil we adjust the quantity number on the list. Every so often I take the (adjusted) printed inventory and update it on the computer – and print a new one. Repeat…
For my primary food storage inventory spreadsheet I categorize first by it’s containment and/or high-level category.
For example, store-bought cans, #10 cans, home-dehydrated foods in ‘canning’ jars, home-canned foods in ‘canning’ jars, 5-gallon buckets, etc.
Then I subset for each. For example, for all the #10 cans (which are vacuum-sealed dried foods) I subset them to their basic description and I simply record the number of each. For example, (Tomato Powder – 5) (Milk Substitute – 12).
Same thing for 5-gallon buckets (containing Mylar sealed dry foods with oxygen absorbers). I subset them to inventory how may contain Wheat Berries, Beans, Rice, etc.. By also noting the weight of each bucket, you can easily determine how many total pounds (of each type) that you have – and compare to what you ‘should’ have (say, for a one year food storage…)
Here’s a Food Storage Calculator that I coded together based on the latest information that I found from the LDS folks (who are advocates of food storage).
The point is, inventory your food however you want to. I have found that when you do inventory what you have, and while you’re looking at it, you may discover that you have a very lot of one thing but hardly anything in another category. It simply helps you to diversify what you have and it very much helps you to eat and rotate what you do have on hand.
Any other ideas out there how you keep track of the food you have in your food storage?