Menu Planning Tutorial Part 2: Taking Inventory

Taking Inventory

Today, you can start by taking stock of what you have on hand. Go through your cupboards, refrigerator, and freezer and throw away anything that has expired and  is spoiled or stale.

Keep a box or bag handy for dry goods that you feel your family won’t eat and donate the items to a local food bank.

After purging, take time to organize the space.

  • Group like foods together; for example, store all canned foods in the same cupboard and all dry goods, such as rice and pasta in the same cupboard.
  • Keep breakfast cereal, poptarts, etc. together for a breakfast area
  • Create a sandwich shelf or drawer – keep cold cuts, condiments, etc. all in one area for easy access when you make sandwiches
  • In the freezer organize by type of meat or product: keep frozen veggies on the door, keep chicken on one shelf, beef on another…
  • Keep regularly used items front and center. You’ll save time by not continuously reaching and bending for these items.

Next, make a list of what you have, and the quantities. You want an inventory of the ingredients you have on hand to refer to when you begin menu planning and creating your grocery shopping list.

I have a simple hand-written list of everything I have in-stock, with little boxes next to each item. The number of boxes corresponds with the number of items I have on hand. So each time I take something out, I put an X through the box. This not only helps me with my menu planning, but assures that I never run out of something!

See you tomorrow for Part 3: The Basic Methods.

Did you miss a lesson?

Looking for the next lesson?




  1. Good list posts!

    I somehow can’t keep up with a cupboard inventory; partly because I get overwhelmed, and partly because my family members don’t remember to mark off things when they use them. So I usually end up doing my inventory informally right before I make my shopping list, but I keep striving for something more organized.

  2. Great tips! I need to get on this and implement them!

  3. I’m so glad that I found you on MM in these wee hours of morning. Menu planning has been one of my biggest time savors for the last 8 years.

    Keeping my pantry organized is one of my biggest problems today, I’ve got to totally rethink it. I have tried so many things and they just aren’t working for the kids, not sure why but its not.

    Now that I’ve found you, I’m sure that you will be getting lots of link love! lol

Speak Your Mind


Find Us On