How To Stock A Pantry

With grocery prices on the rise and the recent spate of bad weather, I have been busy stocking our pantry with nonperishable foods and household items.  Here’s how I stock out pantry and ensure that goods are in-date and readily accessible.

Find a location for pantry items –

Technically, a pantry is a small storeroom for foods, but you can use a large kitchen cabinet, a couple of shelves in the laundry room, or even a hallway closet.  The goal is to find a place where you can store items so that they are accessible, easy to reach, and easy to sort.  If you have a basement or finished attic, you might consider turning a space in one of those rooms into a pantry.

Decide the purpose of the pantry –

Why do you want to stock up the pantry?  Are you preparing for bad weather, or a job loss, or do you just want some place to keep lots of items that you find on sale?  Personally, our pantry serves two purposes.  One, we use it to store items that are purchased on sale and with coupons.  Two, we use it to store emergency supplies, in preparation for bad weather.

Make a list of items that you routinely use –

This list will vary, greatly, depending on your particular situation.  We have a list of food items – canned soups, canned vegetables, rice, beans, grits, oatmeal, etc – that our kids will eat, so we focus on these.  We also stock up on laundry detergent, soap, over-the-counter medications, bandages, batteries, light bulbs, etc.  Again, our goals are storage of goods and storage of emergency supplies.  The contents of our pantry mirrors the content of our kitchen cabinets and medicine cabinet.

Shop sales and shop smart –

I use a grocery store price book to track the prices of groceries at our local store.  When prices hit rock-bottom, I’ll stock up.  By coupling coupons withe the price book, I’m able to really save some money.  Click here to print coupons directly from your computer.  I look to buy items that are nonperishable and easy to store.  More information on using coupons, check out Southern Savers and Krazy Coupon Lady.

Create a system for rotating stored items –

If we stock up on certain items, put them in the pantry, and just forget about them – we’ve wasted money.  Inevitably, food will go out-of-date and we’ll have to start over.  So, we use a marker and write the use-by date on the outside of any item we buy.  Once a quarter, we rotate older stock to the front.  Because we only buy items that we routinely use, we don’t have to worry about items spoiling.  Instead, we use them.

Keep things neat –

This is important for us.  I don’t like clutter, because I think clutter leads to wasteful spending.  We keep cans, boxes, and containers stacked in nice, easy-to-get-to rows.  Right now, we have six bottle of laundry detergent (each bottle cost less than $1, because we bought them during a buy-one-get-one sale, with coupons) and they are in a row, in our pantry.  If laundry detergent is on sale the next time I go to the grocery store, I won’t buy it.  Instead, I’ll use the detergent from the pantry – and the restock when it goes back on sale and I have a coupon.  (That’s where the grocery store price book comes in handy.)  I have friend who keeps his pantry items in five-gallon buckets, with tight-seal lids.  Each bucket is labeled and easy to stack.  I don’t have as much room as he does, so we just use four large shelves in our laundry room, and keep items nice-and-neat there.

Use rewards and discount cards –

Most major grocery stores now offer discount and rewards cards for their customers.  Also, be sure to sign up with Upromise and you’ll earn college savings rewards when you shop for many popular grocery items. (All you have to do is sign up, register your rewards cards, your debit cards, and your credit cards, and you’ll save whenever you buy Upromise-labeled items. Pretty cool.)  Our local grocery store routinely mails store-specific coupons to loyal customers.

We have been stocking our pantry for several years.  There are times when it’s slam-full with cans, boxes, and other containers – and other times when it’s pretty bare.  Using the price book helps me learn the pattern of our local grocery store – and when to stock up.

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