How to do an Inventory

how to do an inventory

Most good articles that you read about meal planning will tell you that the most successful planners always start with an inventory.

An inventory is a complete list of all the food you have in the house, including the fridge, freezer and pantry/store cupboards.

It’s a resource you will return to time and time again so it’s worth your time to get it right.  The good news is, it’s…

A one-time task

The great thing about starting your planning with an inventory is that you only have to do it once and then you just keep it up to date and refer to it week after week!  Lots of people laminate theirs or frame it and then write on it with a dry-erase marker so it can be altered as you need.

An inventory saves you having to rummage around in your freezer counting frozen chicken breasts; it saves you having to reorganise your fridge so you can see if the cream is near its expiry date, and it saves you returning from the supermarket with an expensive jar of coffee only to find you had three more in the pantry.

Sound familiar?


How to do an Inventory

Decide if you want to list everything by shelf, or by item.  Then, print off the Inventory Template as many times as you need (one each for fridge, freezer and pantry – or whatever your combination is).

Inventory by Shelf                                         Inventory by Item

If you intend to reuse these sheets, then now is a good time to frame/laminate.


Take everything out of your freezer/pantry/fridge, one shelf at a time, and write it down on the worksheet.  Make sure you’re as specific as you can be – if you’ve got three frozen chicken breasts then write ‘3 chicken breasts’ on the freezer inventory.  Don’t just put ‘chicken breasts’ and spend the rest of the evening wondering how many!

Also, make sure you carefully record the location of each item correctly (e.g. under ‘shelf 3’) so you’re not left looking for something you know you have, or perhaps record by type (meat, fish, tins) so you don’t waste valuable time finding things in the first place.


1)    list the type of food as fully as possible;

2)    list the location as fully as possible.

You can use an inventory whether you are a beginner or a seasoned pro!


Keep it Up to Date!

When you use something in the week, make sure you cross it off the list or adjust the quantity accordingly.  Then, when you write your next meal plan, you can refer to your inventory to see what you’ve already got in the house – and you know it’s correct!

When you return from the supermarket, don’t forget to add to your list as you put new things away!


Here are those Inventory Templates again

DOWNLOAD: Inventory by Shelf                                     Inventory by Item


Why not get in touch and let me know how you get on?

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