Stocking Up The Freezer or Pantry? Be Sure You Do Inventory

Liz Campbell Has Some Tips

November 19, 2020
Woman and Child Masked Choosing Groceries

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So... how do you get to be an adult and suddenly realize basic stuff you should have known just isn’t in your grown up arsenal? Tell me I’m not the only one. 

Maybe it’s because when we were little we could never really afford to stock a pantry, let alone a second freezer... or maybe it’s because we never thought we might have to have supplies on hand for this kind of year. Whatever the excuse, I absolutely went into storing/stocking mode without a clue.

2020 is definitely a year I’ve felt super prepared and not prepared at all. I’ve been about a month or two ahead of the curve as soon as this pandemic began, but absolutely late on basic "know how to" most of us should have. 

We created a pantry and got a second freezer in early October and I immediately used some savings to stock the foods we knew we would want to have. Angel hair pasta (we couldn’t find it all summer), soup (sometimes sold out), pizza rolls by the box loads (purple equals pepperoni) and chicken, hamburger and frozen veggies to last through winter. I even made a lasagna and labeled in double sealed, dated ziplocks. 

Then, for some unknown, silly reason, I just threw it all in. 

Flash forward and the other night I realized come deep December and a snowy February, digging around to the bottom of an outdoor garage freezer wasn’t something I’d want to be doing just to find peas. Not only that, why did I have three bags of chicken thighs but we were already down to just one box of rice?

Then it hit me. 

Inventory. 

I don't want to beat myself up too much here, because pre-pandemic I was also clipping coupons all Sunday long only to find myself at the checkout realizing they were still on the kitchen counter... but... I probably should have realized without organization in pantry and freezers, you'll waste so much more money than you realize and that's not something we can afford to do this year... so... 

I told my son he could make a little money for Christmas if he assisted me in doing a full inventory of what we already had stocked so we could determine what we may need the next time we do grocery for delivery. I used my failure to plan ahead to try to teach him some quick basics on supply/demand. He caught on immediately, understanding as we took the last bag of ice cream cups from the garage to the kitchen that mommy had better make sure she added more to her shopping list. 

It didn't take a fancy excel spreadsheet. It just took a few pieces of paper and a pen and some planning. Now we know, we are totally good if mommy wants to make stir fry or fried chicken, but we might need to try to get a few more bags of pretzels or dino nuggets. 

And I want to mention also as I confess my absolute brain glitch in considering how economical that inventories can be, that there are also so many families who do not have the means to build up a little pantry. So, I also taught my son about how we need to give back. And that's something simple you can also do. 

If you're looking for ways to help... there are great ways you can. From online Red Kettles to The Cleveland Food Bank to even just helping your own next door neighbor. 

And if you have tips on how to stock and store (not hoard), I'd love to hear them.