- Bargaineering - http://www.bargaineering.com/articles -

Tips to Organize Your Pantry and Freezer to Avoid Food Waste

One of the best ways to save money on groceries is to have a well-stocked pantry filled with products that you bought at rock bottom prices.  More and more our family is buying fewer convenience items and more fresh fruits and vegetables, but we still preserve them by canning or freezing them or cooking them in meals we freeze for future use.

Of course, you are not saving any money if your food goes bad or expires before you can eat it.  If you have a stocked pantry and/or freezer, here are some ways to organize your stockpile:

Group items by like categories.  In your pantry, put the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, and tomato paste together.  Likewise, put the cold cereal, oatmeal and granola together.  If all the items are placed randomly throughout the pantry, keeping track of what you have will be difficult because you never know where you might find the item you are looking for.

Rotate your stock.  When you purchase new items, make sure to put the older items to the front of the pantry and the newer items behind them so you use up the oldest items first.  I have even taken a permanent marker and written the expiration month and date clearly on the front so I make sure to use the product up before the expiration date.

Shop your pantry first.  Before you go to the store, take stock of your pantry and freezer to see what items you already have.  We often end up with several cans of one item because we forget to see what we have first, before we go to the store.

Make a list of how much you have available.  Amy Dacyczyn, author of The Tightwad Gazette, shared a good system for spreading her stockpile out over the course of a year.  If she picked 30 pounds of blueberries and froze them, she made a chart showing that she and her family could eat 3 to 3.5 pounds per month.  Using this system, she rationed out her food and never neglected a food item or ate too much of one item in any given period.  She could buy seasonal fruits and vegetables at rock bottom prices and make them last throughout the year until they were in season again without running out or having too much leftover.

Make a freezer chart.  If you have a fully stocked freezer chest, it can be difficult to remember what is at the bottom.  To combat this, make a chart that divides the freezer into sections.  In each section of the chart, write down what items you have stored in the freezer.  Then, either tape it to the top of the freezer or use magnets to keep it in place.  At a glance you will know what you have, how much of it you have, and where it is stored in the freezer.

With just a little bit of time and organization, you can make sure your pantry and freezer stays manageable and that you eat up your good bargains before their expiration date.  After all, no matter how cheaply you buy the food, if you don’t eat it, you are wasting money.

(Photo: virtualsugar [3])