I was a “pantry person” long before my children came. Newly married, my husband had the same reaction every time I came home from the super market. “How many people live here??” The idea of going to the super market more than one time per month gave me massive levels of mental anguish. So I purchased as much as we could store, and then some, to avoid having to go back. At least, this is what I told myself. Did it work? Not even close. I would forget items or run out of some things and not others. It was a disaster. I was still forced to go back to the store at least once, sometimes MULTIPLE times per week. It took the move into our current home for me to realize where the errors were in my system and fix them.
PROBLEM #1: YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU HAVE
I bought without a plan and without any clear idea of what I really needed. I never took inventory. You would think that after years of working in retail, I would know that I needed to keep at least a vague idea of my inventory. I bought until I had no space left even though there was only two of us at the time.
Keep a running list of anything that you consider “pantry”. For me, that is anything NOT in the kitchen. I call this my back stock. Usually I have an already open version in use but when that is empty, I head to my back stock for a replacement and update my list.
I keep my list in a simple Google Sheet so that I can access it from my phone as well. I know that there are lots of apps out there that do barcode scanning but I found them to be too cumbersome and not well designed.
PROBLEM #2: YOU ARE NOT SHOPPING YOUR STOCKPILE
Rather then treating my back stock as a resource to cut down on my shopping list, I was ignoring it as if we needed it for an emergency and continuing to buy things that we already had when we went to the store.
Shop your back stock! People generally shop bulk for two reasons, to save money when something is on sale or to save time because it is an item that you go through quickly. I am usually of the second category. With five people in my house we go through things like cereal and sliced bread daily. If I didn’t buy multiples I would have to set up a cot at the supermarket because I would be there daily.
Before food shopping, make yourself a detailed list and stick to ONLY what is on the list. As much as humanly possible of course. If you are like me and meal plan, make a point to see if you can come up with at least two meals based on ingredients that you have in your back stock. It will help use what you already have, and it will cut down on the groceries that you will have to pick up during that trip to the store.
Having a pantry or extra food storage space can be a wonderful money saver if done properly. But "properly" takes planning and maintenance. Do you have a pantry? Which kind of pantry stocker are you, need or deal?