In this post, I will show you how I keep my prepper pantry inventory with a short 9-minute video. This is the food inventory system I use, and by sharing it, I hope to help you decide if it will work for you.
My Prepper Pantry Inventory System – In Plain Sight
Keeping an up-to-date prepper pantry inventory has always been a challenge for me. I’ve tried several inventory apps and a notebook that I spent hours developing, only to allow it to collect dust. Those prepper pantry inventory methods weren’t doing it for me. I needed something much more simple and straightforward.
Finally, after years of buying too many of one item and not enough of others, I found the best way to keep track of our food preps. Something that didn’t require an update every time someone took a can of green beans from our pantry.
I’ve been using metal wire racks in our prepper pantry for years. Once I realized that I didn’t need a database or notebook to keep track with a little organization. I needed to “see” what was missing.
Enter my “In Plain Sight” or “In Plain View” inventory system. Now my prepper pantry inventory takes just seconds – once I do the groundwork, that is.
By the way, if you’re interested in the Plastic Wire Shelf Label Holders(Affiliate link) I use, they work out great. I just cut 1-1/4″ strips off plain white 3″x5″ index cards for the label inserts, and we’re off to the races.
The Prepper Pantry Inventory Groundwork
Want to see my Prepper Pantry Tour Video?
First, we need some racks or shelving that allow all of your food stocks to be seen at a glance.
Next, we need to organize the food in a manner that makes sense. For me, that meant canned vegetables in one area, meats in another, and canned soups in another—the same for condiments, sauces, instant packaged foods, bulk food storage, etc. You get the idea.
Now comes the fun part. Writing the “Best Buy” dates on everything with a Sharpie marker.
First, you don’t HAVE to do this. I’m just making things easier to read for my wife and me. I got this idea from Todd Sepulveda over at The Ready Your Future Podcast.
Second, those best buy dates ARE NOT expiration dates. We don’t use those to get rid of food too old. I use those dates for our food rotation. First in, first out. In other words, the newer foods go behind the older ones.
Here’s where the work comes in with this type of prepper pantry inventory. There are really cool food rotation racks, but I do things manually – by hand every time we go shopping.
This may be a deal-breaker for many preppers, but I actually enjoy it. I come in with our just-purchased foods and lay them out on the table. Then, after turning up a little AC-DC, I take my Sharpie and start writing dates on boxes, bags, and cans of my food preps because I’m that cool.
Then I pull that particular food down from that section, careful not to mix them up, and place the newer foods in the back. Then I replace the older foods with the oldest in the front.
It sounds harder than it really is. I like it because I get time to play with my preps. Just joking. Kind of. 😉
Keeping Up Is Easy
Now that everything is set up, it is all downhill from here. Keeping up with things takes a few minutes each shopping day, and “seeing” what you need is fantastic.
I mentioned in the video that I take a picture of each rack using my phone. Then, when shopping, I look at those photos at the grocery store. I can zoom in and easily see we need three cans of spinach, one ketchup, and two gravy packets, as an example.
What Six Months Of Food Storage “Looks” Like
I wrote a very nice Reddit post comment that will help explain how I store a six-month food supply in my prepper pantry. I’ll paste the meat (get it? Haha) of it below:
I’ll tell you what I did for each 6 month supply.
Since there are 7 days in a week and 26 weeks in each 6 month’s supply, I make 26 servings per person of 7 meals.
It’s just my wife and me, so for a 6 month supply of food, we need 7 types of meat, 7 vegetables, and 7 sides for dinner.
Then we need 7 breakfasts and 7 lunches.
It sounds like a lot, but it is super easy to stick to what you like and rotate everything.
I use an “In Plain Sight” inventory system using racks. I have a video on this, but it makes finding holes in your pantry as easy as looking up.
Start with the meat. For example, we like Keystone meats, so we have 26+ cans, chicken, beef, and pork. Then we have 26 cans of chicken breast, spam, and roast beef. We have 52+ cans of tuna because they’re smaller cans, and there are two of us.
That’s 6 months of meat (with actual full-size servings) for two people eating 7 different dishes each week.
Now we add our veggies and a side dish.
We started out buying cans of vegetables but can now (The same with our meats).
To save on money and space, your rice and beans can be used as a side dish for many meals or lunches. Keystone beef over rice or beans with a side of vegetables makes a great meal at our house.
You get the idea. For less time, replace the 26 servings per person with the appropriate number. So 3 month’s supply would look like 13 servings each.
It’s a simple strategy but pretty much only works for a bug in the scenario. Bugging out with my pantry would involve a large truck or trailer of some kind, along with a crew to load it up. It adds up quickly.
Find What Works Best For You And YOUR Prepper Pantry
As I mentioned, this is the prepper pantry inventory system I use, the plain sight inventory system. (Should I patent that?) LOL
You might prefer an app or plain paper and a pen. Or maybe something entirely different or something in between. What matters is you have a handle on what’s in your pantry and what needs to be replaced.
Hey, if you prefer a database rather than the system I use, can I recommend my friend Chip’s disaster preparedness checklist and inventory management system? That’s not an ad. Just recommending something from someone I know and trust.
Once you know what you have, figuring out what you need and how long things will last becomes much easier. The stress falls away like butter on a hot ear of corn. Did I say something that corny? Get it? HaHa.
I hope I’ve helped in some small way, and I enjoyed doing the video. Let me know how you keep track of your preps and how well it works for you in the comments below.
Are you new to prepping? You might find Becoming A Prepper – Take On A Preparedness Mindset helpful.
Stay safe, aware, and prepared,