Preparedness blog

Food Storage Inventory Tactics

By Jeff and Amy Davis
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While stocking up on food storage is essential for emergency preparedness, it is important to keep a detailed, up-to-date inventory list. This will help save time and money since you’ll know exactly when to rotate short-term and long-term food storage. It may even save you time from an emergency to the grocery store for some sugar!

To alleviate some of the stress on your preparedness journey, we will be discussing food storage inventory tactics.

Establish a Method

We recommend planning and organizing a space in your home that is solely dedicated to food storage. Most emergency preparedness folks use a spare room, closet, pantry, basement and/or cellar. If possible, choose an area that is cool and doesn’t go above 75 degrees. This will preserve the lifetime of your food. Once the amount of space has been determined, plan out how many shelves will be needed and where the food will be organized. Make sure to have a family meeting that goes over how the room is set up, tracking food inventory and what foods to use first.

Create a Menu

When it comes to a successful food storage strategy, make sure to choose foods that your family likes and is familiar with. One helpful tip is to create a monthly menu of thirty or thirty-one meals that incorporate ingredients from your short-term food storage. If you want to get even more specific, create a summer and winter menu!

Food Rotation

An immediate benefit of keeping a detailed food storage inventory is you’ll always be aware of what you are stocked up on. If you’re using the menu with short-term food storage regularly and have an inventory marked with the expiration dates, you will be successful at rotating food before it goes bad. Put a date on everything that is in your food storage room. Whether it be the purchase and/or expiration date, always mark your cans. With foods that are rotated frequently, set a reminder of when to purchase more.

Some preppers use inventory services, phone applications, and spreadsheets to keep track of everything. The ReadyStore created their own spreadsheet to keep track of food storage. The spreadsheet allows you to type in the product, calories, amount, date purchased and when to use by. If you would like the printable version, click the image below.


Store Duplicate Items Together

Try to keep your food storage inventory simple and organized. Some preppers will store all of their cooking essentials, dehydrated foods, freeze dried foods, cans and other boxes all on separate shelves. With any duplicates, keep them together. It will be easier for you to spot what needs to be replaced when you do your monthly inventory check.

Quick Tip: Be sure to keep the oldest items in the front and place new items in the back!

Deep, Accessible Shelving

Having shelves that are easy to reach into and grab stuff out of can make food rotation so much easier. Be sure to keep the oldest items in the front and place new items in the back.

"Store food in categories on your shelves, either in boxes of No. 10 cans, cases or even stackable half-case cardboard trays of canned foods, often stocked this way at the grocery store. If shelves are deep, you can keep older boxes or trays in the front, and add new ones to the back of each section. It’s simple to notice when you’ve used a box, case or half-case tray in each food category. You know then that it’s time to replace that food.” – Leslie Probert

In closing, there are many different ways to track your food storage inventory. Choose a system that accommodates to you and your family.

What tips & tricks do you recommend for food storage inventory?

6 years ago
11 years ago at 3:40 PM
Starting out, I have found that obtaining used frosting buckets work well. These are primarily gotten from the neighborhood groceries store for about 50 cts to a dollar a piece O-ring lid included. Cleaned in my dishwasher 2x then a baking soda rinse and air dried 3-4 days. Right now we store mostly dry goods rice, beans, sugar, flour etc, With 3 buckets of 4 days of lunch and dinner items, (working on the breakfast thing). Hope some of this will help someone just starting out being prepping. Donk
Burt Romani
9 years ago at 3:58 PM
Such an excellent write-up!
Kenneth Deshaies
6 years ago at 7:12 AM
We use metal cabinets that are on wheels. They are available at Sam's Club. Being metal, they keep out rodents and their feces and hold electronic items safe from EMP. Each cabinet holds 120 #10 cans plus about 36 pantry cans and storage space for batteries and other (under 3" thick) items. Each cabinet, at present, costs $210. We mark each cabinet with a number and inventory what's on each shelf (3 shelves, 4 spaces). We magic marker the Month and Year on each can.
6 years ago at 2:25 PM
I buy inexpensive pull out drawers that are stackable. They hold about 12 soup cans. They are very easy to move and rearrange. Pork & beans are cheap, and can be eaten hot or cold, plus provide fiber.
Toney Kimble
6 years ago at 1:48 PM
Fitty Smallz