30-40%.

That how much food the average American wastes, according to the FDA. Which is also how much of your food budget you are throwing into the trash too.

That’s why having a fridge inventory or pantry inventory is super smart, because it keeps you from chucking out your hard-earned money.
In this post, you will find:

  • How to take inventory of your freezer, fridge, or pantry
  • A free pantry, fridge, freezer inventory sheet printable
  • A fun challenge to help you use up your food and reduce waste

TAKE ACTION:

  • Download our fridge, freezer, pantry inventory template (look for green box)
  • Take stock of what you have on hand in your kitchen
  • Follow out tips to make use of everything you have!

This post may contain affiliate links. See disclosure for more details.

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How to take a pantry, freezer, and fridge inventory

Taking an inventory can be as simple as writing down a list of everything you have. To make sure you get everything and actually put the ingredients to use, here are some tips to keep in mind.

Be systematic about it

Go shelf by shelf so that you don’t miss anything. In fact, it’s best to clear the whole shelf out onto your counter, then move things from one side to another as you account for them on your sheet before putting them back into your fridge, freezer, or panty.

Jot down meal ideas as you do your inventory

Keep a meal planner worksheet handy as you do your inventory so that if you get a food idea as you are going through your items, you can quickly commit to using the item by filling in your meal planner.

Take note of expiration dates, if applicable

If you notice anything that is set to expire soon, highlight it on your list so you’ll remember that you need to use it soon before it goes bad.

As you put things back, store more perishable items or things that will expire soon closer to the front

Put those ingredients at eye level and keep them unobstructed so that, again, you see them regularly and are more likely to remember to use them. Plus they’ll be easier to get to, making it convenient to use it up.

Consult your inventory before shopping

Before you start tearing up the grocery store aisles, check your pantry inventory to see what you already have, so you can avoid buying stuff that’s already sitting on your shelves.

stocked pantry inventory

Tips for making the best use of your food stock

To make sure you get the max use out of the food inventory you are keeping on hand, follow these tips:

Meal plan, meal plan, meal plan!

If you make it a point to only buy food items that you already have a plan for, that almost guarantees you’ll use the ingredient well before it spoils. In addition, this also helps to ensure that you don’t end up with excess ingredients that you don’t need.

Physically rotate items to the front as you buy new groceries

If you keep shoving things back and put your new groceries in front, you’re likely to just grab whatever is in reach, meaning the back stuff will stay there until it eventually goes bad.

free budget meal planner template printable

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Get your simplified printable:

  • To plan with ingredients you already have on hand
  • Know what you need to buy at-a-glance
  • That's easy reference on a single page

Choose food that has a long shelf life

The longer your food lasts, the more time you have to put it to use in a meal before it spoils and needs to get dumped. We are a fan of dry foods for the shelf (like pastas and legumes), low-sodium canned vegetables or beans, and frozen fruits or veggies.

Store you food smartly to prolong shelf life

Your freezer and refrigerator can totally help your food last longer. For example, freezing sliced bread or putting your rice and dry pasta into the fridge can help prevent mold or weevils from growing.

Try a pantry purge challenge

If you’re trying to save money, it’s hard to beat a grocery bill of $0! Challenge yourself to skip the supermarket for a week and see if you can cook using solely what you already have at home. Purging your pantry is a great way to save money and exercise a little culinary creativity.

Free pantry, fridge, freezer inventory sheet

free kitchen inventory sheet template printable

One of the keys to crushing it on a pantry purge challenge is to know what you have on hand. You’d be surprised how much food you probably have packed away or hidden in the back.

To help you take stock, download our free kitchen inventory printable so you can take stock of what you have on hand the right way. Use this simple one-page worksheet to list exactly what you have in your pantry, fridge, and freezer, and fill in the bubbles so you know what quantity you have.

Then, get cooking!

Please "SAVE" or "SHARE" this free resource so others may benefit:

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Conclusion

Take a food pantry inventory to see what food you already have on hand and minimize food waste. Use our kitchen inventory printable to figure out what you have so you can save on your grocery bill. Our pantry inventory template will help you track exactly what’s on your shelf so you buy only what you need.

TAKE ACTION:

  • Download our fridge, freezer, pantry inventory template (look for green box)
  • Take stock of what you have on hand in your kitchen
  • Follow out tips to make use of everything you have!

LEARN MORE TO EARN MORE:

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AUTHOR BIO

STACY, aka AUNTY CHANG, is a personal finance blogger set on a mission to show people that there's more to money than just the numbers. With two rental properties and a six-figure 401k by her 30's, she's on track to retire early without sacrificing work-life balance to get there. She wants to teach others how to identify their goals and use money to make them happen. Dual income, no kids, based in Hawaii.

Hangs out on Keeping Up with the Changs: Facebook | Twitter