Reader Question: How do you Keep Track of your Stockpile

Reader Andrea is having trouble keeping track of the items in her stockpile:


I am having a really hard time trying to keep track of what is in my pantry/stockpile. My pantry is also in different areas throughout the house, which I know makes it even harder, but space is an issue. I am looking for any suggestions on how people keep track of what they have in their pantries..

How do you keep track of the items in your stockpile? Do you have any great tips or suggestions for Andrea?

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  • Scott

    I’d like some ideas too. I started trying to keep track in a spreadsheet but got overwhelmed quickly. (and I use spreadsheets all day at work) Mine is also spread all over the house.

  • Arianna

    I try to keep a list (i use paper now, but would love dry erase) on the inside door of the main stock pile location (my pantry)….that way i dont have to comb the house each time i want to know! 😀

    • amber

      they have dry erase sheets at staples they can b removed and easily almost like a cling on. they r a little pricey but worth the money.i think i paid like $14 or something, they have different sizes and u can put them on the inside of a door or cabinet….hth

  • Judi

    We use a spreadsheet to keep track of what we have in our freezers. You could do the same thing for your pantry. Just list it out in categories and then mark where it is located. You can print it out then cross things off as you use them. Doing it in excel makes it easy to periodically delete and add things to the list and inbetween just write on the paper copy. I hope you can get a handle on your stockpile!

  • elaine rhodes

    may sound a little weird or OCD which yes I have haha but i keep mine like i do my coupons. In ABC order. I put all canned veggies on a shelf and in ABC order so that i can keep track of what i have and how much…Same with boxed food. For now I put shampoos and conditioners etc together in plastic bins next to my shelves in the garage. Go to goodwill or something and find an old bookshelf or something for cheap that you can sand down or stain and keep things on there. If you have the time you can write things down and then put them in a data spread sheet that way you can print it off as its updated and take it with you to the stores. Then you can see what you have and what you could use more of in your stockpile.

  • Linda

    Keeping track of what I stockpile is hard to do, since I have several areas in my home that I have a stockpile. My main rule of thumb is that I notice what I haven’t purchased in 4 months or more. For example I started couponing in April, and I remember Cindy stating that an item may not go on sale again for another 4 to 6 months so it’s best to stockpile that item when it does. I remember Finish detergent being on sale constantly in the spring and coupons were avaialable, so I stocked up. Well, Finish detergent hasn’t been on sale all summer in my area, but I did notice that my local CVS had it on sale this week for $2.99, in addition I had 2 $1 off coupons. This prompted me to check my detergent stockpile under the sink and sure enough it was running low! Cindy was right, it’s been 5 months since it’s been on sale. Time to restock!

  • Cristina

    I discovered my phone actually has an app for shopping that has a “pantry/spice rack” feature. Takes a little time to get everything in there but might be worthwhile.
    Maybe I’m nuts but after much arranging and rearranging my pantry is in a working for me order. I also more or less just remember what’s in there. My biggest issue is remembering to replace what i run out of. Usually in the way of spices. Everything else I usually find a great sale I can’t resist before I run out!

  • I have small tags that I tape onto each item that I stock. It takes longer to put away, but as an item is used the tag gets pulled off. If I was the only one using items out of our stocked items, I would just use a list and write each item down as it is used. But I found my family would use a can of this, a jar of that, a box would be taken and I did not have record of it. So, I devised this system.

    Each item stocked has a tag like this: Veggies: Corn or ‘Cookies’ or ‘ Dressing: Ranch’,’ Cereal: Cheerios’ etc. Then the tag gets tapes to where ever the package is going to be opened or on the directions of how to cook that item. This way our family HAS to remove the tag, when they use it. I have a small jar in our kitchen where they put the tags. I will then use these tags as my ‘inventory control’. I’ll remove those used item tags from my stockpile count (kept on an excel sheet) and shop for more items as needed.

    (I have a formatted file for the tags, if anyone is interested)

    • Brooke

      i am very interested in your file!’

    • Jackie

      That sounds like entirely too much work!

    • Janelle S

      That sounds like a lot of work but for my family a little extra work will mean not running out of things….So I would say this filing tag system is definently something I am going to try

  • Kelly A.

    I sort of had this problem at my old house. I had enough room to bring in a 5-tier shelving unit where I put most of my stockpile. If you have room for just that, I think that would really make things easier. If not, I have heard of people sliding rubbermaid tubs underneath their bed, you can do little things like take the razors out of the pack and put them all in a ziploc, I put my toothbrushes into a large yogurt container so they’re easy for everyone to get a new one.
    If you have to keep foods in different areas, you could keep things that you use for certain meals in the same place; for example, keep pasta with the pasta sauce. For me, I categorize my kitchen by condiments, baking, soda/juice, canned, dry beans/pasta. etc. Everyone has a different approach to this, try different ways to see what works the best for you!

    • Kelly A.

      Just to add, keep a permanent marker handy to write expiration dates larger on the top of cans, side of boxes, frozen meats, etc. I’m not the spreadsheet type, I just keep the same of everything lined up and hope for the best!

  • Colleen

    I have a 2 bedroom apartment with the same problem. I go through once a month and take a general inventory and keep a list. I also seperate things throughout the house. I have a linen closet only for toiletries/ paper products and seperate toothpaste, shave cream ect into bins I got at dollars store with labels on them. I have a 5 tier shelf in a large bathroom closet that I only keep canned good and cereal, then seperated by shelf (one shelf is all tomotoes and sauce!). In my cabinets I have small boxes for packets, ect so they aren’t all over and keep everthing else snack bars, rice ect in my kitchen cabinets seperated by type of item. I also have a small chest freezer but don’t have enough in it too get confused. chicken turkey on the left and all beef on the right.

  • Phil

    I have all my bathroom supplies in a neatly organized cupboard in the bathroom; I have all my cleaning supplies in the laundry; all the kitchen/food in the kitchen; and all the kitchen cleaning supplies under the sink. I don’t have a HUGE stockpile, but I do like to keep it where it’s easy to keep track of, and where I usually would go to find an item, so that I can keep track of it. This system works great while your stockpile is still relatively small. I have been couponing for a few months, but I only stock up on items that are free, or close to free. I am also careful to buy things that I know my family will use.

  • Carla

    I keep personal care items in the linen closet that is in my bathroom and food/cleaning supplies in the pantry in the kitchen. There are only 2 of us now, so I don’t have a large stockpile. A friend of mine has no storage in her small apartment, so she bought 2 plastic storage shelves at Walmart. They were on sale for $9 each. She uses one for personal care item storage and the other for food. She keeps the heaviest items on the bottom because it is plastic, but it has worked out really well for her. I think the most important thing about organized stockpiling is to always store like items together as much as possible. Otherwise, you lose track of how much you have if an item is located in several different locations.

  • Jessica

    I don’t really keep track. I guess mine isn’t big enough yet. I am having a hard time generating a stockpile for food items. I feel like is disappears quickly. I guess I need to get more of each item when it goes on sale.

    • Arianna

      i’m kinda on the same page you are Jessica….i can only amass like, 8 cans of soup, or 4 things of broth. though, i do have 25 cans of gravy thanks to those heinz catalinas! but other than that, mine isnt that expansive yet…i hope it will be though!

  • Excel!

  • Lori

    My bigger issue is knowing how many of each printable coupon to print and even which ones to print at all. Generally, I try to only print the ones that seem to be high value or that I definitely use. However, I’ve been finding that I missed out on some great deals or wish I had more of a certain coupon for “freebies” or almost “freebies” but I didn’t know the deal would get so low that it would be worth stocking up….like Fantastik or scrubbing bubbles or Land o Lakes cinnamon butter, etc. Any thoughts or strategies…..printing quantities of everything becomes times consuming and costly….not to mention confusing BUT then when I find I want something, it is NLA!

  • robin

    I keep HAB items in one area, (laundry room), in bins, on shelves. One bin each for shampoo, conditioner, razors, body wash, deodorant, hair sprays and such, etc. I used to keep shampoo and conditioner together in one bin. I recently went through it and discovered I had only 4 conditioners to about 40 shampoos. So, now they each have their own bin. Condiments are also on their own shelving unit. I bought some large shelves off of Craigslist recently that we use in the office for just about everything else. We don’t purchase much in the way of prepared foods, (other than mac & cheese). Our canned goods are mostly tomato products. I guess, the point for me was to get everything onto open shelves where I could see it. If space is more limited I would keep like things together…for instance: all toilet paper under one of the beds, stacked cases of tomatoes in the top of a closet, clear bins of toiletries stacked in another closet. I would just try to be able to see as much as possible at a glance.

  • Felicia

    I’m so not OCD, I couldn’t even keep up with a speadsheet! I think I take a simple approach to it, and I haven’t had too many issues with my stockpile. I have a shelving unit in the closet in the spare bedroom that I store things like crackers, snacks, rice, hamburger helper, pasta, and then one shelf is for baby food and the bottom is for beverages. When I add to the stockpile I look at the expiration date and organize it so the things expiring soonest are at the front. But I push everything as far back as it will go so I can just glance and see what I need. Some people don’t like to reach for things, but I use every inch of space I have. If I went from having 12 cans of beans and I’m starting to reach for the last 4-5, then I know it’s time to get more.
    Under my staircase is a deep closet for coats. Well, all our suitcases hide in the far back and then I put a shelving unit it sideways so I still have room for a few jackets. It is filled with dishwashing supplies and air freshener, toliet paper, napkins, cleaning supplies, diapers and wipes. I line everything up in “like” rows and push it all the way back so I can glance in and see where my stock pile is at.
    In my garage I have a wall cabinet I keep things we don’t go through as often, condiments, coffee, dental care, ect. When I’m cooking, cleaning, or putting away groceries, I can always see my stockpile levels and I write down items that I’m getting low on and then I keep an eye out for coupons and sales.
    Having a larger set area for your stock pile really helps. If there is any way you can move things around to give yourself a bigger area, like combining 2 closets, I think it’s worth it.

  • Arielle

    I’ve made a Word document of all the items in my stockpile. It’s a simple list organized by expiration date, so I know when I have to use something quickly or it will go bad. I also color-code certain items on the list (yellow = items I’ve already opened but not used all its contents, like pasta; blue = items in the freezer; red = items expiring soon). my pantry is small enough to keep track of everything and have a pretty good idea where everything is. When I come home from shopping I just bring my laptop over to the kitchen shelves and record everything in my document as I put it away.

    I only do this for food items however; I typically don’t care about what I have in health & beauty items, they just all get shoved into my linen closet! lol!

  • jenny

    i dont keep track. i just group all the similar items together. as i pick items out of my storage i notice where the holes are. i keep this in mind as im making my shopping list(s) up for the week!

  • Megan

    I have a pretty good idea of how stocked my stockpile is. I’m having a harder time predicting what we need to get us from the one great deal to another. But try this: I used to work a place that used this method for medications. a tag with the item name written on it gets placed on one if those items where you would think you need to start collecting more of them. Ex: If I keep 20 jars of sauce and I know that when I have 5 jars left that’s low for me then put the tag on jar 5 (counting from the back of pile forward). When you get to that jar put the tag in a box. List all items from the tag box on you shopping list for stockpiling.
    Hope that helps!

  • Sandi

    My biggest problem is my husband not knowing what is in the stockpile. He is always throwing stuff in the shopping cart that we already have. I just check periodically to see what I am running low on. I mark everything that is perishable with a permanent marker. I really hate when we have a bunch that is going to expire at the same time.

    • Tiff

      OMG…my husband does the same thing. He’ll throw something in the cart and if I give him “The look” he’ll ask if we already have 10 of it. lol He is starting to ask if we already have it, if I have a cpn or think I can get a better deal somewhere else.

  • Lisa

    I have a terrible time with rotating my stockpile and freezers. We don’t even really know what’s at the bottom of the chest freezer and I bet there are some items that are going bad. I attempted an “Eat from the Pantry & Freezer” challenge in the spring, but it didn’t really work. I blame my husband 😉 who is more particular about what he wants to eat and cook. I don’t really care and when I was a poor grad student I became a master at putting together whatever I had in the house. He wants long recipes when he cooks. I better get my stockpiles and freezer sorted out soon and now when the weather is getting colder I might be able to take everything out of the freezer to see what’s in there and to organize it. 🙂

  • Andrea

    Thank you for all the info I think I will try the excel sheet.