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Running a Frugal Household, Part 2: inventory and label

Posted on: October 13, 2010

A frugal household is an efficient household, right? Misplacing and needlessly replacing items leads to waste, and we’re all trying to reduce that.

In part one of Running a Frugal Household I shared the system we’ve developed for keeping tabs on items in our freezer. We also looked at ways the laundry process runs more smoothly.

Today I’ll show you what works for us in terms for knowing what surplus food and non-food kitchen items we have. Take a look:

Our house is small, and we do not have the luxury of a pantry in the kitchen. We do, however, have some great storage in the unfinished side of our basement. Therefore I have turned a section of these shelves into our “basement pantry storage”.

  • Surplus food and non-food kitchen items (such as dish soap and plastic bags) are kept here.
  • The cereals and most other dry goods are in the large clear container at the bottom.
  • Containers with several items are labeled (ie, “party supplies”)

This wouldn’t do us much good, however, if we didn’t keep track of what we had down there! And so we came up with this solution:

A simple list! It is labeled “Basement Pantry Inventory”.

  • The columns, from left to right, are for number of items (with room to mark changes), space to indicate if an item is open or in a larger storage container, general name of item (ie, cereal), specific name of item (ie, Cheerios), and type of container (ie, box, can or bottle)
  • This is taped to the inside of one of our kitchen cabinets.
  • When I make a shopping list, it’s easy to consult this list to discover what I’ve got on hand.
  • Clearly, it’s imperative that this list be kept up-to-date. Otherwise it is useless.
  • Every few months I take down the list and update it in the computer so I’ve got a clean list, in alphabetical order, to hang.
  • I do not have included any expiration dates, which would be fantastic info to know. For me that’s just getting a wee bit too organized, however. My solution to this is to simply try to put newer cans/bottles/etc toward the back and move the older things forward.

The system we’ve found that works for keeping track of extra non-food kitchen items, such as dish or dishwasher soaps, foils and wraps, and the like, is very much the same:

This is hanging inside a different cabinet door in the kitchen and is labeled “Basement Pantry Non-Food Inventory”. It includes columns for:

  • Number of the item we have on hand
  • (A column we don’t actually use)
  • General description
  • More detail, if needed
  • Container type (ie, box)

And not that it really has much to do with running a frugal household, but here’s what’s inside the cabinet door over our large toaster oven:

Detailed instructions for using the (somewhat confusing) toaster oven! Oh, and a meat temperature chart too. As far as the oven instructions go, though, I posted them when my in-laws were going to spend the weekend at our home with our son. Did they use the instructions? I have no idea, but at least I felt much better having tried! 🙂

What about you? What systems have you developed for keeping tabs on the items in your household?

Coming next Thursday: Managing Shopping Lists!

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2 Responses to "Running a Frugal Household, Part 2: inventory and label"

[…] In part one of this series we talked about some laundry tips and keeping tabs on freezer contents. Part two covered an inventory of the pantry, both for food and non-food […]

[…] far we’ve looked into laundry issues and inventorying our freezers, then moved to keeping an inventory of the pantry. In last week’s post I shared how I keep track of our shopping […]

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