Save on Groceries with a Kitchen Inventory

Written by Martha on January 25th, 2012



Did you go over budget on groceries these last two months? That’s easy to do with holiday baking and entertaining family and friends.  Odds are you have leftovers or your pantry is bulging from extras that were not consumed.

Why not take a Kitchen Inventory? A Kitchen Inventory lends itself to meal planning and is a good way to put feet to your New Year goals of healthy eating, watching finances, or spending more face time with family.

Let’s get started then!

1.  Grab a pad and pen. Divide your paper into five sections: Refrigerated (fresh) Food, Dry Goods (canned and boxed), Frozen Foods, and Expendables (spices, leavening, oils).  If you want to get fancy, EHow has instructions on making a computer inventory here. Just don’t make this harder than it is, OK?

2.  Make a list of what you have on hand in fridge, freezer, and pantry, checking “use by” dates as you go. Throw out any bulging cans!

3.  Put a star by:

  • Fresh food  more than a week old (like those baby carrots you swore you would eat instead of cookies and candy)
  • Canned goods/boxed foods more than a month old
  • Frozen food more than 2 months old
  • Spices/seasonings  more than 1 year old for ground, 2 years for whole.

4.  Brainstorm meals that will use only what you have on hand, especially the starred foods. Think soups, stir fry, casseroles. Recipe sites that allow you to search by ingredients can help.  These are a few of my favorites:,,

5. Make a grocery list including only the staples (bread, milk, eggs) you go through regularly and specific ingredients you will use in the next 5-7 day’s meals.

Yes, making the inventory takes time, but this process gives back to you! What you will save:  time wondering what to have for dinner, money you can put toward any holiday charges hanging around your neck, space in fridge/pantry for fresh ingredients.

Do this exercise once a month to truly gain is control over your kitchen storage spaces, your food consumption, and your grocery bill. You are your manager. Would you hire yourself?


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