Monday, July 25, 2011

Keeping Up with the Little Things

Lately, one of the hardest things for me to keep up with seems to be the Inventory List.  We've been keeping a list for over a year and you'd think I'd have it down pat by now.  Apparently, that's not the case.  For the third time this year, I did an all out count this afternoon of what we have in storage.  I printed the three page list, went down to storage and physically counted every item on the list.  There are 106 line items on the list (excel spreadsheet) and I had to correct the totals on 18 of them.  That's roughly a B- for accuracy ...totally unacceptable to me for something as important as food storage.  Somehow I need to make the list (and the process of keeping it current and accurate) more user-friendly. 

The current format consists of five columns ...a description of the item including the increments of measure for quantity, the goal amount for one year's supply, the amount currently on hand, the amount needed to meet goal, and the date updated.  I'm not sure the 'date updated' matters since once it's entered on the list, it doesn't tell you if the date refers to when you added to storage or removed from storage ...why does it matter?  It seems to me the amount you have versus the amount you need is what's critical.  I also get hung up on quantities because there are so many ways to measure things ...quarts, pints, gallons, pounds, cans (in varying sizes), etc.  Coffee, for instance, doesn't seem to be packaged in even pound cans anymore.  It's always 2 lbs xx ozs or 3 lbs xx ozs.  If you're OCD about accurate numbers like me, you'll make yourself crazy trying to convert all the odd ounces to figure out exactly how much coffee you have on hand. I  am tempted to change the line item label from 'Coffee (pounds)' to 'Coffee (BIG cans)' and leave it at that.  A 'BIG can' of coffee lasts us almost two months so seven 'BIG cans' is definitely a year's worth or better. 

Do those of you who maintain several months to a year's worth of food storage keep an inventory list?  If so, how is your list organized and how hard is it to keep current?  Do you keep it on computer or hard copy or both and do you keep a duplicate copy as a backup? 

I'm looking for a better way and welcome any suggestions.  

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10 Comments:

Blogger janis said...

I use to keep a great supply in my pantries & freezer of food. Actually, we havent refilled to those quantities for years as with our changing incomes & expenses with both girls at college, I only get what I can afford, never leaving room for extra supply for later. Wish we did & would love to be able to maintain a year even a months worth of food supply. Hopefully again one day...just do not see it near!
Love that you are organized & I too HATE that they no longer have even pounds!

July 26, 2011 at 8:23 AM  
Blogger Stephen said...

Gosh, you have a list....talk about organized.

July 26, 2011 at 9:07 AM  
Blogger Arsenius the Hermit said...

I use Excel to track my storage. Don't feel badly about having to make adjustments. I certainly do. Things get used and not recorded, or you add items and mean to record it but forget to. I do a good inventory at least quarterly and update my spreadsheets.

July 27, 2011 at 11:39 AM  
Blogger HossBoss said...

@Janis...
I know what you mean. I've always kept a little ahead in case I couldn't get to the store for a week or two. But we started stockpiling in earnest in the spring of 2009. We had the space to keep it but times were hard, so accumulating extra was a challenge. We were only a month or two ahead when my husband got laid off. Little did we know at the time it would be sixteen months before he went back to work. That little bit ahead fed us during the leanest of those months. After he had been working again for three months, we bit the bullet and bought enough of everything, including toiletries and nonconsumables, to last twelve months. So far, we've managed to maintain the levels but that's why I want to be organized. It's a big investment.

July 28, 2011 at 5:28 AM  
Blogger HossBoss said...

@Stephen...
We are list people. We have To Do lists, Done lists, Wish lists and, yes, an Inventory list. I'm glad you think that means we're organized ...we tend to think it means we're disorganized and forgetful ...lost without our lists! LOL

July 28, 2011 at 5:33 AM  
Blogger HossBoss said...

@Arsenius...
Yeoldfurt built our list on Excel too. He alphabetized EVERYTHING from applesauce to toothpaste because that's what made sense to him. His idea was that I would print it (three pages!) before I went to the store and pick up one or two extra of whatever we were under goal on each time. I do the shopping and I can tell you right now, grocery store aisles are not organized alphabetically ...they are organized categorically. So I found myself making a ridiculous number of trips up and down the SAME aisles because several items on that aisle were nowhere near each other alphabetically. So I reorganized the list by grocery-store-friendly categories. Items within each category are alphabetized but the list is much more shopper-friendly now.

I guess I will have to live with the periodic adjustments, but it takes me the better part of an hour to do a full physical inventory and I would like to only have to do it once a year. I have some ideas, I just wondered what you all do and if it's working for you.

July 28, 2011 at 5:45 AM  
Blogger Arsenius the Hermit said...

I guess how often you need to inventory depends on 1. how many people are taking things off the shelves in the family.
2. how meticulous everyone is about recording their usage. In my family, people not letting me know about things they use is my main problem.

It works, even though it'll never be perfect any system is better than "by guess and by golly."

July 30, 2011 at 12:12 PM  
Blogger HossBoss said...

I agree, Arsenius, 'by guess and by golly' is rarely a good system. It's only me and Yeoldfurt so you would think it would stay pretty accurate. The problem arises when I'm in the middle of cooking and need something else from the stores. I always THINK that I will remember to subtract it from the spreadsheet later and I have every INTENTION of doing so ...but you know what they say about the Road to Hell. It's paved with good intentions.

I think I may have a plan though. I'm going to print up half sheet forms ...simple fill in the blanks labeled date, item, quantity and checkboxes for whether to add or subtract. I will keep one clipboard of these forms in the storeroom and one on the fridge in the kitchen. If I'm bringing home groceries, I always mark the new purchases with the month/year before taking them to storage. I can fill out a half sheet at that time itemizing what I'm adding to stores. If I remove something from the storeroom and forget to fill out a half sheet before I leave the house, I have half sheets available in the storeroom. I already keep a sharpie and clipboard down there now. I will have a designated spot on my desk for half sheets and can tally it all up once a week when I pay the bills for the week. I'm a list person. I think this will help. I'll know in about three months when I do another full inventory. If it's more accurate than it has been, I'll know it's working.

: )

July 30, 2011 at 12:34 PM  
Blogger Debbie said...

My main problem is rotating things as I buy more, and watching the "use by" dates. I allowed a few things to get out of date and I had to pitch them, I hate throwing anything away.

Debbie
Right Truth
http://www.righttruth.typepad.com

July 30, 2011 at 7:37 PM  
Blogger HossBoss said...

It's tedious, Debbie, but I use a sharpie marker to put the month/year on each item I bring home BEFORE it goes to storage. When I carry the new purchases down to storage, the newer dates are placed behind the older dates of the same items. It's awkward having to shuffle things that I keep a large quantity of like canned fruits and vegetables, but it's worth it in the long run to avoid waste.

When we topped off our storage last December, we were guessing as to how much was a 12-month supply for each item. I know we were way off in some categories and am working on tweaking the goal numbers now. So far, no waste due to spoilage but a few things are very near their expiration dates. I'm old school though ...if it SMELLS okay and it LOOKS okay, I very carefully taste it ...just a tiny bit to detect any 'off' flavor. If it TASTES okay too, it's OKAY. So far, we're still kickin' ...

: )

July 30, 2011 at 9:36 PM  

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