Monday, April 9, 2018

Pantry Management

Frugal Workshop Pantry Photo 2013
My grandmother's idea of a pantry was to fill everything to capacity. Her pantry was overflowing with canned goods and boxes. 

Her home had three freezers and she filled them to capacity. One of them was so full it did not even close because it had so much food inside. 

My grandfather's bedroom was filled with boxes and boxes of foods they had canned over the years. 

There was so much food there that when they both passed away the food was thrown away including the jars, unfortunately.  
They both grew up during the depression and so it was understandable that they worried about food security. 

If financial hard times ever came around again they didn't want to worry about having enough food to eat. 

I understand why they filled their home with food, but believe there is a better way to handle having so much food using some pantry management. 

They could have benefitted from Amy Dacyczyn's "Use It or Lose It" calendar. She inventoried her pantry and then created a calendar based on how much time she had left until her next harvest, and then divided the food equally among the months left.  This system insured that she would use everything in her pantry and not lose anything. 

Her point was that people who lack control over any area in their lives need to design systems to manage these areas effectively, which in the end will save you money. 

One of my pantry goals has always been to eat what we have on hand and rotate the food so we are using up the oldest food first. 

One thing I do is to not fill our pantry so full that we cannot organize it and tell what's inside. That was one of my grandmother's problems. She had so many items in her pantry that it was hard to find what she needed. 

So, one of the best tips is to organize your pantry. In my own pantry I keep all the like items together. All my green beans are together in one section, same thing with tomatoes, etc. 

That way when I am planning my shopping list I can tell quickly if I need an ingredient and can avoid buying something I already have. I don't make emergency runs to the grocery store. I either do without or make something else. 

Every few months I take the time to check and see what we have on hand. This helps me to use up items that are nearing their expiration dates and I can use them up before they expire. 

Also, I rotate the items I have on hand when we unload new grocery items. We move the older items already in our pantry to the front and put the new items behind the ones we already have. 

Recently I installed an app on my phone called "Fridge Pal", which allows me to scan the items in my pantry and also list the expiration dates. And then it will send you a notification when an item is about to expire. It's still new to me, so I've not decided how well I like it yet, but I will keep you updated. 

~ Living within our Means ~


  1. Good post. I love AMY!!!!! She was my first read into frugality. I was raised that way - but it was neat getting fresh ideas from someone other than parents.

    We need to know what we have and use it. organization is key for me.
    Thanks for a great reminder.

  2. You're welcome, Cheryl. I love Amy D too. She opened a world to me that I had no idea about when I was in my early 20s.

  3. That app sounds cool!

    I'm trying to rotate things out this month. It isn't working perfectly, but I will just carry over into next month if need be.

    1. That is what I would do too, Shara. Just carry over into next month. There are several pantry apps like that. I'm going to check out a couple of them and use the one I like best. :)

  4. Writing the expiration date on the front of the label (not the top of the can) is a good way to make sure you use the oldest stuff first.

    I own one of the omnibus editions of Amy Dacyczyn's work. Pretty sure she would approve of the fact that I bought it at a tag sale. ;-)

  5. I put the year on the front with a marker and on the top of the can. Too many times I am looking down on a can and do not want to have to pick up each can to see the date on the front.

    I will never have so much food home canned that I cannot finish it before the next year. My friend's mother put food in the crawl space and in the outdoor laundry room. She was trying to can enough food for him to have plenty to eat when she died. He just ate fast food and never touched her food in the 20 years he outlived her.

    If I am not eating bought canned food fast enough, I give away anything two years old to a friend with family who can finish it off faster than I am able to eat it.

  6. Wow, Linda, what a sweet and loving thing your friend's mother did for him. It's sad that the food was wasted, but I can understand someone eating fast food instead of cooking for themselves especially if their income supports that.

    That is so nice of you to give your canned food to your friend and a great idea to avoid food waste. Kudos to you. :)

  7. This is a very good explanation of your process.
    Laura of Harvest Lane Cottage


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