Simplified Menu Planning: Day 21 – Create and Maintain Inventories

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31 Days to Less Stress in the Kitchen

31 Days to Simplify Your Menu Planning

It’s easy to collect excess stuff and food in the kitchen and pantry, and it’s easy to lose focus and forget how to set up an efficient kitchen or a useful, healthy menu plan. So, during 31 Days to Simplified Menu Planning, we’ll take the necessary steps to simplify and streamline our food-related efforts.

Now that all your lists are in order and you have a plan in place, the next step is to keep track of what you have and what you need so that you don’t buy flour when there’s already twenty pounds in the pantry or forget to buy brown sugar when it’s all gone.

Create and Keep a Pantry Inventory

Because you’re only purchasing and keeping food stuffs from your master pantry list, creating an inventory is simple. It is simply that master list in a different form. Keeping such a list makes creating the grocery list simple and efficient, requiring little to no brain power.

Whether or not a pantry inventory is necessary in your situation is a personal choice. If you don’t keep much extra stocked and have a dedicated pantry space, a glance might be all that is necessary to see your pantry stock. We only need lists to help us track when it is helpful, not simply for the sake of keeping another list.

However, if you prefer to keep a backup supply stock, emergency pantry items, or must find odd pockets of space to keep your stock, then an inventory list might be a helpful thing to keep.

I recommend writing your master pantry list on a white board, slipping a printed list into a plastic page protector or glass frame, or keeping a separate electronic note however you store those. Then, when you add to your supply, add a mark. When you pull something from supply, erase a mark. Clearly, then, this list must be handy and convenient.

Create and Keep a Freezer Inventory

A little more tricky is the freezer inventory. This is more than a matter of keeping tabs on the items only from your master list, but also includes items you’ve prepared and put up for later. The possibilities, then, of what could go in your freezer are vast. Here’s how I keep it simple:

  • List items you buy and freeze like particular meat cuts, bread, frozen vegetables, and such.
  • List items you often make and freeze like bread, meals, desserts, jams and sauces, beans, and such.
  • Leave a blank space to write other items you end up adding to your freezer.

Keep this list electronically, in your home management binder, on a paper list taped to the freezer, or even written directly on your freezer with a wet-erase marker! Make a tally mark when you add an item and erase a tally mark when you remove an item.

Tomorrow, we’ll go over one of my favorite aspects of this method of managing the pantry: the ability to never run out of your pantry staples!


Mystie Winckler began menu planning at 11 years old when her mom delegated one dinner a week to her. Marrying at 19, she’s had a lot of practice over the years. But between growing and homeschooling her family, meal planning often requires brain power that just isn’t there any more. Simplified Dinners is her solution to take the effort and thought out of healthy, frugal cooking. And now it is available for you, too!

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