Money Saving Strategies, Where My Money Goes

Taking (grocery) inventory …

As an avid MSN reader (regular readers will know this is one of my weird Internet addictions …), one of my favorite columns is by Donna Friedman who wrote most of last year about living on $12,000 a year. Friedman has a great writing voice and she has some pretty sound advice.

The other thing that I like about Friedman is that she regularly solicits her readers for input on how they live frugally. The column also has regular challenges for readers to take on to live more frugally – the recent “Brown Bag Challenge” has readers packing lunch for a month to see how much in savings they realize. (Given my recent addiction to Jimmy John’s, I can attest that saving about $16 a week on two servings of the Vito, chips and soda would retire my credit card debt sooner and give the waistline of my work pants a break.)

Friedman gave me a pretty good idea one recent morning when I was browsing through her column. At this point in my life, I’m a relatively decent cook but one of my biggest problems is that I’ll have a ton of one product (ask Future Husband about the Great Canned Pumpkin Project of 2008) and will be out of diced tomatoes when I need them.

One of Friedman’s readers recommended building a spreadsheet to keep track of pantry and freezer items. This kind of intrigued me because my organization skills leave much to be desired and it would be nice to see how much money this could potentially save me. I mean, if I buy one more can of cream of mushrooms soup on top of the six cans that are already in my pantry, I’m still going to use it. But it’s taking up space and I could have spent my money on something else that I needed … or not spend it at all and trim off some money on my weekly grocery bill.

I’ve started building a spreadsheet – I frequently use Google Documents because I used to not have Excel on my home computer. It’s free and it’s pretty user-friendly. My idea with this is to keep it updated and then I can print it out when I need to go grocery shopping.

Keep in mind, I’m building this from the cab company and this is just a starting draft. My pantry is much more horrible than this … I’ll keep you posted on this experiment.

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6 thoughts on “Taking (grocery) inventory …

  1. If I might make a suggestion?

    I’d list them like this for ease in finding what you’re looking for in the future as the list builds:

    Soup, cream of mushroom
    Soup, tomato
    Rice, jasmine
    Rice, wild
    Pudding, chocolate
    Mustard, Poupon
    Mustard, German Brown Ground
    Mustard, Dijon
    Pasta, Spaghetti
    Pasta, Rotini

    etc., etc.

  2. Hey … very good idea! Thanks! I cleaned out my cupboards shortly after writing this entry and discovered that I’m in desperate need of better organization. 🙂 You rock! Thanks!

  3. Sometimes when I’m “poor” I have this little internal experiment called….eat what’s in the pantry and see how long you can last. It’s fun and it uses up stuff that’s been there for 2 years but not expired. Love this BLOG Shelley!

  4. I love a good spreadsheet, but for groceries we keep a dry erase board in the kitchen. Anytime I use something up, I write it on the board. Shopping time? Write the board list onto my paper and head out. I also came across a weekly menu planning sheet (that i printed out and laminated so I can reuse it with vis-a-vis markers) once upon a time. I’m not interested in dedicating time to it while working, but in the summer it’s nice to plan ahead a bit.

  5. I have no clue why I keep brown rice in the freezer – I think I read somewhere that it would last longer that way. Sometimes that isn’t a problem – we’ll go through rice quickly, othertimes I’m too lazy to cook it. Hence … freezer!

    And Steph … I hear ya! 🙂

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