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And all that jazz (or food)

So, with the recent grocery challenge throwdown, I thought it would be helpful for myself if I took a really in-depth inventory of all the food in my house.

Holy smokes, what an eye-opening experience!  It took me two hours (including organizing a new shelf we got from Craigslist) to write it all down.  First, I was really proud of the fact that our monthly grocery budget is pretty low, but we’ve managed to accumulate a great stockpile…though it’s small if you’re a prepper (which we’re not).  I found very little “random” food during my inventory; nary a lima bean in sight.  What was so surprising to me was the vast amount of food we have in our house.  It was everywhere and there was so much!

The list doesn’t include condiments or the giant bulk supply I have of oats, evaporated cane juice (organic sugar), and wheat grains (for use in my grain mill).  I have eight plastic food grade five gallon buckets fitted with gamma lids and they hold the “big stuff”.

I started this challenge to save up for a big bulk purchase.  I ended up taking the money I wasn’t spending this month on groceries, and went ahead and already got the stuff I needed (25 lbs organic popcorn, 15 lbs butter, gallon of coconut oil, and a few things I can’t remember).  They are included in the totals below, but we would have made it through the month without them.  I am not including condiments or spices in the totals.

Here is all the food I have in my house (click the link below to open the Word document):

Grocery challenge inventory

Here are a few photos of my basement storage

IMG_2601Loving my new $20 Craigslist wire shelf


Do you buy the fancy expensive nut butters that don’t require you to stir them?  Well, did you know they need a stabilizer to keep the oil from separating from the nut butter?  Oh yeah.  Many people are grossed out by the peanut or almond butter that you have to stir, but all nut butters have that layer of oil in them…stabilizers just keep them already “mixed”.


Troy came up with a great idea about two years ago after I was crazy annoyed with having to stir a giant tub of peanut butter (only ingredients: peanuts and salt).  Now, we store the container upside down so the oil goes to the “top”.  So, when you turn it over to use it for the first time, it is easy to stir without the oil slopping all over the sides.  The man is a genius, I tell yah.

IKEA has these great cloth boxes that are supposed to be for drawer organization.  We had them for Jack’s dresser, but now that homeboy is getting so big, only his socks and underwear are able to fit in the containers, so I repurposed them for the basement to hold fruit leathers, and some bottles of sauce.


Freezer before the challenge


This inventory list has been HUGE for me in planning meals, snacks, etc.  And the sheer amount of food that we have is insane.  Despite the mix of “oh my gosh, why do I have so much” and “hey, we’ve done well without a ton of money”, the overwhelming sense of feeling I get is gratitude that I have the means to stock up.  I recognize that many people in the US don’t have such means, and around the world this would be an unheard of amount of food for billions of people.

How about you?  Did you take a food inventory before starting this challenge?  Do you think it will help you be creative with your meal planning?

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20 comments on “And all that jazz (or food)”

  1. Did you know the fuller your freezer is the more efficient it is? I have bottles of frozen water filling extra space in mine.

    • Yep, in fact I did a blog post on it back in 2012. But my freezer is much fuller than it looks. That whole top shelf is totally full, but all the stuff is white and is obscured by the light. There is homemade bread (wrapped in foil and a big Ziploc), a bucket of almonds, and my Kitchen Aid ice cream freezer bowl.

      Jack didn’t shut the freezer all the way a few weeks ago, so I just had to defrost it again. I tossed a little bit, but I assure you it is still pretty darn full. 😀

  2. lol you DO have a lot of food in your house!
    I’d be lost and forget to eat at least half of it.
    For instance, I have some bags of frozen slices of fruit that we haven’t consumed for 2 years now. Are they safe to eat or should I throw them away already??

  3. I did not take an inventory before starting The March Grocery Challenge as we ate from our pantry and refrigerator during the month od Frebruary and we have no stock left. I will try to stockpile during the Challenge. I hope this will work!

    • If you frozen them yourself I would use them up in crisps and cobblers because you know how fresh they were to begin with. If they are commercial I’d chuck them.

  4. That is an admirable stockpile. It will be interesting to see how much you can get through. I am always torn between getting that “sale” and having too much inventory. I have a different question tho – how do you like that upright freezer? I live with two big chest freezers which I cannot reach to the bottom of. The bottom layer is, literally covered with margarine tubs filled with frozen water just to lift the bottom layer up a little closer to where I can reach it. I am 5′ nothing and often have to use the bbq tongs to reach stuff at the bottom back. So how do you (and your readers) like your uprights?

    • I love my up right! I’m 5’7″ and always had problems getting to the bottom if our chest freezer so when that died I got the stand up and it’s so much more convenient!

    • I had a chest type freezer and did not like the fact that what I wanted was always on the bottom. A few years ago for our wedding anniversary I told my parents that I would like an upright. I love it! I too am on the shorter side and the upright works best for my famlies needs.

    • @Lisa from Iroquois – we have an GE 13.7cu ft upright freezer that we love. We bought it a few years back and can’t think of a single bad thing to say about it. It is Energy Star efficient and has a safety lock on it (our kids are teens so we don’t need it, but nice for people with young kids).
      I didn’t take an inventory before starting the March challenge, but I need to. I think it will help me make sure I am using older items first.
      Our first week of the March challenge was going well until my husband went to Costco hungry. The man who rarely buys anything on impulse went a bit nuts. Oh well.

    • We bought a chest freezer in winter 2009 before Jack was born and I liked having it. But things quickly got lost in the bottom (I’m 6 ft tall so had no trouble reaching anything), and I felt like it was disorganized.

      Two years later, when I got my first ever check from Google (blog ads), I took that and all my birthday money and bought the upright you see in the photo. I LOVE it so much better than the chest freezer. It’s 21.9 (I think) cubic feet and it rocks. I got a screaming deal on it…something like $399. It’s a Kenmore from Sears.

  5. I am doing an inventory this Sunday in our freezer/pantry. I was looking last night and found several items I forgot about. An inventory list is a great idea. I love your blog, I have followed you for a while but rarely comment. 🙂

  6. We will be freezer eating for the next month and a half – with the exception of St Patty’s Day.

    Two reasons, it’s time to clean out the food, and we are picking up our quarter cow in two months!

  7. I had no idea you could get cocoa powder in the 1/2 gallon size! You’ve inspired me to take a real inventory of what we have and utilize it. Thanks Sarah =)

    • Oh, I don’t buy it in a container like that. I utilize the bulk bins religiously and store almost all my dry goods in canning jars. The cocoa powder lives in a huge half-gallon canning jar.

  8. I did inventory our freezer and pantry. We don’t really have a stockpile so it was pretty easy. Building up our pantry is a goal of mine for this year.

  9. I’m not familiar with the “challenge”, but every few months I challenge myself to eat what we have. I make a mini inventory, enough for about a week, Make menu and recipes using what is available. I only purchase fresh produce, milk and such staples, but not if I can get along without them. I always have too much food and feel more efficient when I do this.

  10. We don’t have a large stock pile, mostly makings for chili, two or three boxes of gluten free noodles, some canned fruit, a bunch of frozen veggies and a freezer full of beef and lamb. We don’t have a lot except for pasta sauce- we have something like 10 jars of the stuff. The hubby noticed in was on sale one day and bought a bunch of it.

    The kiddo and I tried to go the week without groceries and we made it to Thursday before I realized that not doing groceries during the week meant going on Saturday or Sunday. Babysitting 60 hours a week makes me not want to do anything responsible on the weekends, so we opted to do groceries on Thursday. I blew my goal, but I was also out of a lot of staples (nuts, olive oil and almond butter being the big three). That being said, we should be able to skip groceries till after the hubby get’s home (on the 14th).

    I think I have a fear of stockpiling food thanks to my in-laws. Every time we go visit, I rummage through their pantry and find food that expired when the hubby was in high school (um, he graduated in 1998). If you don’t eat it, at least give it to someone who will!

  11. This is such a good idea! While I live in an apartment and don’t have the space to stock pile food, I am guilty of forgetting about food that is in the back of the cupboard, or on the highest shelf of the cupboard (since I can barely even reach that shelf to begin with). Definitely know what I’ll be doing later tonight — gotta keep these Saturday nights exciting!

    Also, I’ve been a lurker for awhile now, and just want to say that I love your blog! 🙂