Why do a food inventory?
A food inventory will prevent food waste due to food becoming outdated before you can use it. A food inventory will also allow you to purchase items on sale rather than purchasing them full priced because you “think” you are out. Finally, it makes menu planning and cooking easier.
Sorting food and tossing expired foods
The first step is to dump your cupboards. You will need a trash can, a box, and a plastic storage container with a lid. Dump everything sitting on a shelf onto the counter and separate items into like groups- spice, mixes, cans, etc. If you find something that needs to be moved to another cupboard, place it in the box. Do not get sidetracked into putting items belonging in another cupboard back.
Now, look at the items that are left. Are the items still usable?
- According to UNL, you can test if baking powder is still good by putting one teaspoon of baking powder in 1/3 cup of hot water. If it bubbles vigorously, it is still good.
- With baking soda, mix 1 ½ Tsp soda and add 1 Tablespoon vinegar. Again, you are looking for bubbles. If either of these fails the test, toss them in the trash.
- Spices are given the whiff test. Avoid sniffing spices like chili, pepper, cayenne, etc., that can irritate. If you smell a strong aroma, the spice is still usable. Dried herbs need crushed and then smelled.
Sorting Can Foods
Cans may have dates marked on them. Use-by Date indicates the last date that the contents will be top-quality but are still safe to use. Most canned foods retain their best quality for 2 to 5 years. High-acid food such as grapefruit, tomatoes, and pineapple is 12 to 18 months.
Discard any rusted cans, leaking, bulging or seams that have failed and old cans of questionable age. Bottles with broken seals, before you open them, or bulging lids need to be thrown away.
If you have duplicates, place them in the storage box. Use the first bought; first used rule. Place the newest of the two in the storage box. For more information on dry food storage, please see “Storing groceries, so they stay fresh.”
How do I do a food inventory?
You have your items sorted and are now ready to do a count. I do a best-guess ounce or cup count on most items. You can do it by percent or fractions of what remains in the container. I use Living Cookbook to track my inventory, but a simple chart listing items, amounts, where extras are stored, and space to monitor inventory in and out will work. Treat your food storage as restaurants do, and keep an ongoing count of food in and out.
Time to put items back. First, use the crevice tool on your vacuum cleaner and get into the crevices and the back of the shelves. This will remove lurking pests. Wash the shelf with hot water, dry and lay down new shelf paper. If you notice pests, please go to “Preventing Bugs in Kitchen Cupboards” and “Cleaning up After Pests”.
What to include in a food inventory?
It should list the type of food, the quantity of food, and the date the food was purchased, obtained, or the expiry date.
Why do food inventories?
Food inventories can help you track what you have in your pantry and fridge so you know what you have to work with when creating meals. They can also help you stay mindful of your grocery budget by showing you how much you spend on food each week or month. Additionally, food inventories can help you identify foods that you should be eating more of, as well as foods that you might want to start stocking up on when they go on sale.
How to use a food inventory?
You can use a food inventory to track the food you have on hand, as well as the food you need to purchase. This can help you plan your meals and avoid running out of food.
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