Building a pantry needs to be a priority for all those hoping to increase your food storage to prepare for emergency situations. Whether you’re just trying to make sure you’ve got 3 days worth of food, 3 weeks worth of food or 3 months worth of food, finding the best ways to shop and build your pantry the best way possible is important.
My favorite tool in my arsenal is a Price List. I can hear the collective groans now. And don’t roll your eyes – I saw you do that. We’re not talking about a huge binder full of pages of every single product you’ve ever purchased your whole life and the price at 5 different stores in your area for that product. What I am talking about is a system that you’ve developed yourself to know when you’re getting the best possible price on a deal, and then stocking up on that deal as much as you possibly can because it’s the best price. ever. This does mean that you have to keep track of what the best prices are for the food you purchase. You also don’t have to be a coupon queen to use this method!
How I use a Price List
I do not have a binder full of pages of food products and how much they cost at 5 stores.
I use this inventory sheet to keep track of what I need to stock in my pantry.
I print off the sheet and put it on a clipboard, then walk through my kitchen and pantry and mark off the things I need.
NOTE: In/on each of those areas, I have a version of this that only has one column for the name, and one column for how much I used during the week to make it easier for me to do my list that I just printed out, laminated, and can mark up and wipe off).
NOTE 2: On my permanent version, I keep a price entered on most of the products to give me a sense of what a good stock up price is. Sometimes I have to buy things at full price as I replenish my pantry or refrigerator, but if I notice the price is hovering around my stock up price, I’ll buy more to make sure I have plenty! I didn’t include the prices on the version you’ll download because prices vary wildly monthly to month and region to region.
Here’s an Example
Let’s make an example out of butter, shall we? My stock up price on butter is $1.99/lb. (and no, it’s not organic, sadly…but I’m not there with everything, yet). I have about a six months worth of butter in my freezer right now, plus 2 jars of ghee.
I only buy it in bulk when I can get it at the $1.99/lb price. But now, when I use butter, I purchase a replacement on my next shopping trip. This way, I’m never under the six-month supply.
However, if I find butter at $1.99 again, I will stock up on another six month’s worth of butter to have a year’s worth ready at all times. Yes, I stock in my freezer and I do know the ramifications if the power is gone, but I have a plan in place on making ghee at that point. I’d always love to be able to only purchase it at $1.99/lb, but right now, I know that’s not feasible with the way food prices have gone up, so I don’t want to blow through my stock to save $1 per pound. I’ll keep the status quo.
The same goes for any other products in my pantry. I don’t stick to any particular brand, for the most part, so I don’t feel the need to keep records for every brand at every store. I have a general stock up price on any particular thing I buy, and that’s my goal. If I find a better stock up price, I simply adjust my file, and reprint the page for the next shopping trip. The benefit of this is that I’m not stocking my pantry at full retail. I’m saving money to be able to extend my food budget to allow me to buy more food to put aside for an emergency.
Yes, I still do maintenance shopping at full price if I need to, but I know that if butter is $3.50/lb, I have some in stock that I can use until it comes back to a more reasonable price to continue my maintenance purchasing. But once it hits around the $1.99/lb mark, I stock back up!
Knowing the best buy pricing of food that you purchase from the store can extend your food budget to allow you to increase your food storage.
I can also make notations about whatever coupons I’m going to have to use in the extra white spaces or on the back. To help you out, I’m going to let you download my Excel Shopping List/Price List sheet. This does require Excel (or an equivalent for MAC) to use. You can edit it to fit what you purchase, or rearrange to make sense of your shopping habits. This list is not my entire pantry inventory, but it’s a great start. You may have items you need to add to this list or items you don’t use that you want to remove and don’t forget to make changes to bulk products that your pantry needs. Make it work for you!
I do ask that you don’t share this inventory sheet with others – but send them here to download it directly from me. Thanks!
If you have any questions about this, please put them in the comments so I can answer here!
Emily as an MFA in creative writing and a strong passion for cooking! She started trying out her mother’s recipes from a very young age, turning the time she spent in the kitchen into a career. She will soon publish her very first cookbook, and in her free time, Emily contributes to our blog with resources for all our readers, whether beginners or advanced chefs.